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Scary Movies: The Raven

It’s October, and time for the annual Bruner horror movie festival! Our first movie this year is The Raven, the third Roger Corman-directed Edgar Allan Poe movie we’ve watched (last year I reviewed Tales of Terror and somehow neglected to review The Pit and the Pendulum). It will also probably be the last for a while, because we’ve now exhausted the Poe movies on our DVD collection.

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 and a great 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–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)

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Here’s the master list of horror movies I’ve rated so far. (Click the title for a link to a review of the movie.)

Excellent
Alien (1979)=10 points
Day of the Dead (1978)=9.5 points
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)=8.5 points
A Quiet Place (2018)=8.5 points
Frankenstein (1931)=8 points
King Kong (1933)=8 points
Village of the Damned (1960)=8 points
Night of the Living Dead (1968)=7.5 points
Carrie (1976)=7.5 points
Jaws (1975)=7 points
Pretty Good
Witch: A New England Folktale (2015)=6.5 points
Aliens (1986)=6.5 points
The Birds (1963)=6.5 points
Carnival of Souls (1962)=6.5 points
Night Creatures (1962)=6.5 points
Phantom of the Opera (1962)=6.5 points
The Thing (1982)=6 points
Tales of Terror (1962)=6 points
Okay
The Raven (1963)=5.5 points
The House on Haunted Hill (1959)=5 points
Gremlins (1984)=5 points
Lady Frankenstein (1971)=4.5 points
Man-Thing (2005)=4 points
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)=3.5 points
Avoid
Alien 3 (1992)=3 points
The Wolf Man (1941)=3 points
The Last Man on Earth (1964)=2 points

One Comment on “Scary Movies: The Raven

  1. Pingback: Scary Movies: Tomb of Ligeia – Nicholas Bruner

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