Spirits of the Dead (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes

Spirits of the Dead (1969)




Critic Consensus: Three auteurs descend on the works of Poe, each putting on a ghoulish show -- adapting The Tomahawk Man's tales of dreams and fright, with Fellini's segment particularly out of sight.

Spirits of the Dead Photos

Movie Info

This film features adaptations of three short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. In "Metzengerstein," a woman believes a horse possesses her dead cousin's spirit; "William Wilson" focuses on an Army officer who murders his double; and "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" tells a tale of a jaded movie star.


Jane Fonda
as Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein
Peter Fonda
as Baron Wilhelm Berlifitzing
Brigitte Bardot
as Giuseppina
Alain Delon
as William Wilson and his double
Francoise Prévost
as Friend of Countess
James Robertson Justice
as Countess' Advisor
Anny Duperey
as 1st Guest
Georges Douking
as du Lissier
Katia Christine
as Young Girl
Daniele Vargas
as Professor
Terence Stamp
as Toby Dammit
Fabrizio Angeli
as 1st Director
Ernesto Colli
as 2nd Director
Anne Tonietti
as Television Commentator
Vincent Price
as Narrator
Alcardo Ward
as 1st Interviewer
Marco Stefanelli
as Wilson as a child
Paul Cooper
as 2nd Interviewer
Antonia Pietrosi
as Actress (segment "Toby Dammit")
Rick Boyd
as [Never Bet The Devil Your Head]
Jérôme Polidor
as [Never Bet The Devil Your Head]
View All

Critic Reviews for Spirits of the Dead

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4)

Intriguing and mostly successful.

September 25, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Only Fellini (Toby Dammit) really manages to make much of his source.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[Toby Dammit] is marvelous: a short movie but a major one. The Vadim is as overdecorated and shrill as a drag ball, but still quite fun, and the Malle, based on one of Poe's best stories, is simply tedious.

May 9, 2005 | Full Review…

It offers pleasures above and beyond its status as a relic of a groovier and exponentially more swinging era.

March 19, 2003 | Full Review…
Top Critic

All the directors are competent. Poe was a genius. The program looks promising. But it fails.

January 7, 2021 | Full Review…

Out of the three episodes based on the macabre tales by Edgar Allan Poe, the third -- the only modern-day one, directed by Federico Fellini -- is far and away the best.

October 18, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Spirits of the Dead


This movie features three stories directed by three great foreign directors, and the cast features some of the best foreign actors at the time too. I really liked the stories and seeing all the different directing styles is so cool. I highly recommend this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Poe's macabre tales are re-envisioned by three auteurs: Vadim, Malle, and Fellini. Vadim's 'Metzemgerstein' is reinterpreted in the form of a debauched, depraved, decadent countess -- Jane Fonda. Her nature is aptly described as a 'petty Caligula.' Orgies, bisexuality, and hedonism abound. Her costumes were late 60's outrageousness. Falling in love with her cousin, played by her brother, Peter, just added to the creepiness factor. Eventually, she and her spirited black stallion are literally consumed by flames. Malle's vision of 'William Wilson' was my personal favorite. Alain Delon is perfectly cast as a sadist, haunted by his conscience, which is manifested as his doppelganger. Malle's jumpy camera perfectly translates the terror and anxiety experienced by Delon after murdering his doppelganger. By eliminating his superego, he has essentially murdered himself. Fellini's loose adaptation of Poe's story is replete with surrealistic trademarks. This heightens the absurdity of the story. Terrence Stamp is well cast as an amoralist, tormented actor. His joyride to hell is the most shocking scene in the trilogy. The combination of the tales is quite moralistic: the devil will always get his due.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer


the 3rd segment by Fellini, "Toby Dammit", is amazingly kinetic, and Malle's has some disturbing touches

Adam Mahler
Adam Mahler

Super Reviewer

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