The Raven (1963)
Director: Roger Corman
Screenplay: Richard Matheson based on “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Stars: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Jack Nicholson and Leo Gordon (voice uncredited)
Tagline: Wits and wizardry run a-fowl!
A talking raven shows up at the castle of Dr. Erasmus Craven (Price). It turns out the raven is actually Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (Lorre)! Bedlo was transformed into a raven by Dr. Scarabus (Karloff) when the two had a duel of magic. Craven is able to restore Bedlo to human form. They decide to go to Scarabus’ castle for a confrontation. Bedlo wants revenge for being turned into a bird. Craven is on a mission to find his missing wife Lenore.
Before it is over Bedlo, Craven and Scarabus will be in a battle of magic with the losers facing certain death!
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…
The Raven is very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem. Director, Roger Corman, and writer, Richard Matheson wanted more humor and less terror for this film. It was shot in just 15 days and Corman allowed the actors to play loose with their dialogue. This suited Peter Lorre, who improvised many of his lines. Boris Karloff didn’t enjoy this method, while Vincent Price caught on quickly. It’s interesting to note that Peter Lore and Jack Nicholson reportedly didn’t get along when the cameras weren’t rolling.
The highlight is the duel between Price and Karloff. It’s an extended sequence that kids of all ages will enjoy.
The Raven earns 3 of 5 stars.