It’s October, and that means it’s time for the annual Bruner horror movie festival! Our first movie this year is The Raven, the second Roger Corman-directed Edgar Allan Poe movie we’ve watched (last year I reviewed Tales of Terror).
The Raven is a horror-comedy, starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff (!), and a very young Jack Nicholson (!!). The main character is Dr. Erasmus Craven, a magician of some power who lives a quiet life of drinking warm milk before bed and worrying over his teenage daughter, Estelle. He also mourns his late wife (Estelle’s stepmother), Lenore. One evening, a raven taps on the window to his study, and when Dr. Craven lets it in, is surprised to find the raven speaking to him.
The raven is actually Dr. Bedlow, who was transformed into the raven in a wizard’s duel with the evil Dr. Scarabus, and has come to Craven for help because they met at a wizard’s convention some years back. The restored Dr. Bedlow sees a picture of the late Lenore and tells Dr. Craven he saw her at Scarabus’s house that very evening. Bedlow and Craven decide to pay Scarabus a visit–Bedlow wanting revenge for losing the duel, and Craven to find out if Scarabus has somehow imprisoned the spirit of his beloved Lenore. What they find at Scarabus’s castle will surprise them both, and viewer as well.
This movie was fun from start to finish, well-paced and never flagging in interest. I can’t say the humor was hilarious or the scares were very frightening, but the various wizards’ duels, unexpected magical transformations, and double crosses kept my interest and my childrens’ as well. We’ll rate this at the high end of Okay on the rating scale.
The Raven (1963)
Story/Plot/Characters–Fine acting by a cast loaded with great horror actors and a well-paced script with extra points for originality. Characters were somewhat stereotyped, but overall well-done. (3 points)
Special Effects— Dated, although they must have been something in 1963. (1 point)
Scariness–Well, zero. Not scary at all. As a horror-comedy, maybe I should be rating this on humor, then. A nice jovial atmosphere, but specific jokes were pretty lame too–this was no Young Frankenstein. (.5 points)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–Scarabus’s castle was pretty cool, with its elaborate, floating fire braziers. (1 point)
Total=5.5 points (Okay)
A solid but not outstanding entry in Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe cycle.
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