The Raven (1963)
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As the king of "b" horror movies, Corman knew had to make the most out of a tight budget. His stylish films consistently used good source material, well written screenplays, lavish set designs, locations, props, costumes and great horror stars. "The Raven" boasts no less a cast than Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Jack Nicholson, and 60's scream queen Helen Court a mind boggling cast given that this is a low budget film.
Pairing horror legends Price, Lorre, and Karloff was indeed a momentous occasion and the stars make the most of it. Any semblance to Poe's Gothic poem pretty much ends after Vincent Price reads the first few lines (brilliantly recited despite its brevity) at the intro of the movie. Afterwards, screenplay writer Richard Matheson takes the sombre mood of the original poem and turns it on its ear with his original comic screenplay.
At the outset of the film, we learn that Price's character (Dr.Craven a wizard) has lost his wife Lenore (Helen Court) and has long mourned her loss. He's interrupted in the midst of his grief by "a tapping at his door." Price opens the door to find himself confronted by a raven (Peter Lorre). The raven, it turns out, can talk and is actually a rascally wizard named Dr Bedlo who has been enchanted by the evil wizard Dr Scarabus (Boris Karloff). He entreats the amazed doctor to help him become a man again.
Richard Matheson's screenplay provides the actors with some wonderful comedy dialog with which to work. Price and Lorre had been previous teamed in Tales of Terror, and their styles blend beautifully together they are a scream! They set about concocting a potion in set designer Daniel's Haller's creepily atmospheric dungeon. After much fumbling, Price finally manages to restore Lorre's human head, but his body remains that of a giant human sized raven. Seeing Lorre strut his stuff in the Big Bird raven costume is almost worth the DVD price by itself! Once restored, Lorre swears revenge on Dr Scarabus. He asks for Price's help. But the doctor refuses until Lorre's character spots a portrait of Price's long lost wife and remarks that he's seen the woman at Scarabus' castle. The two set off for the castle along with Price's daughter (Olive Sturgess) and Bedlo's son (played by a young delightfully hammy Jack Nicholson).
When Lorre and Price reach the castle, the fireworks begin figuratively and literally. It's clear these three horror icons are having the time of their lives, hilariously spoofing their monster screen personas. Dated special effects (though fine for their day) detract little from the final magical showdown between Karloff and Price.
I never get sick of seeing this movie and happily give it a rave review! Grab the popcorn and enjoy.
Rob Rheubottom Winnipeg, MB Canada
"The Raven" is a delightful movie about ambition, treachery and magic, with a wonderful duel of magicians and lots of humor. The raven is hilarious and it is impressive his training with participation in many scenes. The special effects are simple but impressive for a 1963 movie. The cast is excellent with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff and it is curious to see Jack Nicholson in the beginning of his career. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Corvo" ("the Raven")
This is not an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe poem (which would be impossible) but rather a spoof of the various movies adapted from Poe's stories that were so popular at the time it came out, featuring many of the same cast members! As such, the movie needs to be seen in this context or else it will make no sense.
Vincent Price, a good magician, helps Peter Lorre turn from raven back to human form, then journeys to the castle of bad magician Boris Karloff, who was responsible for changing Lorre into a bird, to engage in a battle of sorcerer's tricks. Jack Nicholson is on hand as Lorre's son, and the two have some funny scenes together. There's not much story here, but the look and feel of the film are what make it work, to the extent that it does, as it's really a showcase for the actors and set designers more than anything else. It's a lighthearted film from the start, with nary a frightening moment. Everyone's dressed up as if at a Halloween party, and the festive tone is sustained throughout.
The magician's duel may lack 'modern effects' but for their day they were pretty impressive. And the warmth and humour shines out in all the characters.
And yes, Peter Lorre dressed up as a Raven IS hilarious.
poem and his wife being named Lenore, any other connections are coincidental. Yet, I'm sure you will find this movie entertaining and funny. An all star cast of Vincent Price,( the kind but powerful
hero), Peter Lorre, (a sniveling, shifty, weasel), and Karloff
at his diabolical best as the evil magician. It is sort of a
D&D version of the Good, Bad & the Ugly. Great special
effects for its time. A young ,soon to be Superstar Jack
Nicholson playing Peter Lorre's noble son does not really
add to the story, but it's fun to see him in his fledging days.
Peter Lorre and Vincent Price make a delicious comedy pairing; their two unique personalities blend together brilliantly and it's great to see these two legends on screen together. As mentioned, these two are joined by fellow legend; Boris Karloff. Karloff is a vastly underrated actor that has played lots of important characters and turned his hand to many different aspects of horror; comedy being one that he does well at also. Like the rest of the cast, he delivers his one-liners with the utmost skill and has many fine comedy moments. Not all of the jokes in the film work, but some parts of the film are laugh-out loud funny. Seeing Jack Nicholson in a film like this is rather bizarre when you consider what he has gone on to achieve, but his presence serves in giving it even more cult appeal. Although if you'd heard someone say that he would go on to achieve these things after only seeing him here, you'd probably think whoever told you was having a laugh...
Whether or not Corman should have turned 'The Raven' into a comedy is debatable. On one hand, I love the film, but I'm not sure if a serious version better would have been better. Still, the debate is irrelevant because he did and this is the result. The film is loyal to the poem in some ways (including the lovely wrap up), but basically; this is completely different. But pay the similarities and differences no mind, as 'enjoy!' is my advice.
Price plays one of his rare good guy roles as Craven, a good warlock living in his castle in England (where else?). Lorre is Bedlo, a coward who was turned into a raven by the evil sorcerer Scarabus (Karloff). Craven changes him back and Bedlo tells the good warlock/magician that his thought to be dead wife is shacking up with Scarabus. This sets up the final 20 minutes of the film, a hilarious showdown between Craven and Scarabus involving lasers and cheesy red arrows that only make the viewer laugh even more than he/she was doing before.
The great castle designed by Daniel Haller was reused famously in "The Terror" shot two days after this wrapped by Corman. Unless you're a film buff, you probably won't notice, but it adds a comic touch to an already hilarious film. The best comic moments belong to Lorre and Jack Nicholson (as Lorre's son). These two are nuts! Floyd Crosby's photography (in Panavision and Pathecolor) is solid as usual (although the castle isn't; he,he) and Richard Matheson's script (with bits added by Price, Karloff, Lorre and Nicholson) is one of the best comedy scripts ever written. Why wasn't "The Raven" on the AFI Top 100 Comedies List? It's as good as anything in the Top 10 (better than the second ranked Tootsie, that's for sure). The probable answer: they don't know great comedy even if it bit them in the butt.
**** out of 4 stars
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Panavision)
Sound format: Mono
During the 15th century, an evil sorcerer (Boris Karloff) lures his arch rival (Vincent Price) to a lonely castle where they fight a magical duel to the death.
Handsomely mounted on some of the most lavish sets ever created for AIP's Poe series, THE RAVEN toplines Price, Karloff and Peter Lorre for the first time in their careers, alongside a very young Jack Nicholson (making the most of a juvenile supporting role). Richard Matheson's clever script turns the faux seriousness of earlier Poe pictures on its head, countering Price's overwrought histrionics with a series of rude rejoinders from Lorre, who relishes his role as a cowardly magician whose divided loyalties place everyone around him in danger. Price and Karloff are worthy adversaries, and their climactic duel is one of the most celebrated set-pieces in horror movie history, despite some fairly obvious trick-work. Floyd Crosby's expansive cinematography and Daniel Haller's 'olde worlde' art direction conspire to render a suitably Gothic atmosphere, though the movie derives most of its strength from the quality of its dialogue and performances. Directed by Roger Corman.
This is more of a satire than a true terror movie , it is immaculately staged , stylishly realized , very literate , confidently made and plenty of eye-popping scenes . Terror has strangely been more skillfully spoofed than in this agreeable horror/comedy Corman directed . The picture packs usual Corman's striking scenarios including mists rise the ground , lugubrious castle , shrieks come from gloomy coffins , waves pound open the shore and vague shapes move behind the dismal mansions gone to the bad . Despite the original and incredible X certificate , most children will like this enormously fun film . Colorful cinematography by the series usual , Floyd Crosby . Frightening and atmospheric musical score by Les Baxter .
The motion picture is well directed by Roger Corman and based on Richard Matheson's screenplay . It belongs the successful adaptation Edgar Allen Poe series . After his poverty-budget horror stories deemed many of them minor cult , Corman made the cycle of ¨Tales of Terror¨ which gave huge profits from minimal budgets . This Corman terror period during the 60s with classical horror adaptations also includes writer as H.P. Lovecraft with ¨The haunted palace¨ and result to be the following : ¨Tales of terror¨ , ¨The premature burial¨ , ¨Pit and pendulum¨ , ¨House of Usher¨ and on the sets and leftover from ¨The raven¨ was directed ¨The Terror¨ also with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson . All of them with a great sense of characterization and period , eerily staged , specially in the scenes where heroes and heroines are lured by spirits , spectres or black cats . In these movies repeat the same technicians , assistants as Monte Hellman , musician composers as Ronald Stein and Les Baxter , Daniel Haller as production designer , cameraman as Floyd Crosby , among others . They were realized as vehicles for Vincent Price with the exception of ¨The premature burial¨ with Ray Milland and Hazel Court which was less successful . The last two pictures in the series , ¨The masque of death red¨ and ¨The tomb of Ligeia¨ were filmed in England to combat rising costs . Corman shot some exciting movies after these , but nothing remotely as interesting .
What makes this movie work so well is that nobody takes themselves too seriously. In fact, you can tell from the outset that everyone in the cast is in on the joke. I would caution those who are expecting a great performance from Jack Nickleson to be prepared to be disappointed. However, it is plainly evident that he is an excellent actor just waiting to happen.
Is this movie perfect, hardly, but it is definitely worth seeing. If for no other reason than to see the climatic head to head dual of magic between Price and Karlof.
As others have noted, the only commonality with Poe's work is that there is a raven in the movie (I guess it could be a crow, who can tell the difference). There are enough shock scenes to keep a 10 year old on the edge of his seat and enough cheesy comic relief to keep him from getting creeped out.
By far the best part of the film comes with the lead actors who manage to blend the sinister with the silly in just the right balance to make the whole thing enjoyable.
Very dated by today's standards, most kids wouldn't be impressed by the scares or the laughs. But for old folks who once spent a lot of Saturday afternoons at the local theater it's a wonderful visit to the past.
I forgot just how cute this film is until I watched it again! Quite a funny horror-fantasy film. Where else can we see Price dropping eggs on Karloff's head lol. Three legendary stars Lorre, Price and Karloff and an up and coming Jack Nicholson that show us their humorous side.
Yes this is worth watching - if you like a good comedy-horror and fantasy film classic! 8.5/10
If you aren't familiar with Roger Corman, he is one of the most prolific and entertaining "B" movie makers of all time. His writer here, Mr. Matheson, is best known for his work on numerous episodes of "The Twilight Zone". Poe - Matheson - Corman would be enough, but we also get Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court and Jack Nicholson. Price is always a treat to watch (especially in horror films), Lorre appeared in 3 of the greatest movies of all-time (M, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca), Karloff is the master of monster, Ms Court was one of the first stars of Hammer Films, and of course, Nicholson (fresh-faced here) went on to become one of the most successful actors in movie history.
Price, Karloff, Lorre and Nicholson offer up four of the most unique voices ever heard in movies, and they each partake in the fun provided by Corman here. Yes, I said fun. This is almost slapstick comedy, and at a minimum, it's a parody of the much darker series of Poe films. If you consider it as an influence of the 1960's "Batman" TV series, you wouldn't be wrong. Even the music (heavy on the tuba) has an air of comedy.
Watching Peter Lorre as a matador is pretty funny, and some of the back-and-forth with he and Nicholson as father and son is clearly ad-libbed, but the classic comedic sequence occurs when Price and Karloff take their wizardry duel to the death and turn it into a special effects highlight reel.
This may be the only time you hear the phrase "precious viper" used to describe a woman, and if that, combined with all of the above reasons, isn't enough to motivate you to seek this one out, then maybe you will never discover why so many adore the films of Roger Corman. Compared with films of today, this style is nevermore.
Not much of a plot--but with Lorre, Price and Karloff do you need one? Not a great movie by any means--it got more than a little silly at times,the score was dreadful and the special effects are terrible (even by 1963 standards) but I enjoyed this. Some of the lines are fun and the sets look great but it's the acting that puts this over. Price overacts (as always) but in a fun way; Lorre deadpans most of his dialogue and it works; Karloff looks great--relaxed and just having a great time in his role. Also a very young Jack Nicholson is in this--he's terrible and he later admitted that he hated this film. Also Hazel Court (looking stunning) is great in a small role. The script is good but, purportedly, Lorre ad-libbed most of his lines (I did see Price fighting not to laugh a few times). The climatic duel is a definite highlight. Worth catching.
See a letter-boxed print. I saw it on a full frame print on TV with washed-out color. Half the time I couldn't tell what was going on because of the absence of the wide screen.
The three old pros who star here--Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre--all do competent enough jobs but there's not much they can do with this material and it doesn't look like anyone's heart was particularly in it. Jack Nicholson is also in the film but he doesn't add anything special, as he would soon be doing in other films. Of the supporting cast I liked Hazel Court the best. She plays a pretty sexy Lenore. She and Olive Sturgess as Price's daughter were all that really caught my attention in this movie.
A great supporting cast such as Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and a young Jack Nicolson do little to enliven this and even at 80 minutes it outstays its welcome. This is more like a forgotten Disney flick, hoping to prompt an indulgent chuckle, and it unfolds very predictably. Rubbish special effects too, even for the time.
Your first thought about a movie called "The Raven" (and that stars Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, along with Karloff) is that you're going to find a horror movie, or at least a decent mystery or suspense thriller. Those expectations are dashed quickly. This is, after all, directed by Roger Corman. There's nothing frightening or mysterious about this. Instead the movie goes for laughs, as two rival sorcerors/wizards/magicians (Price and Karloff) go head to head with each other, with Lorre stuck in the middle - sometimes a raven, sometimes a man, sometimes a bit of both. Yes, it's a rather silly movie, which unfortunately creates expectations by being named after Poe's poem. From time to time it works in that it brings forth a few chuckles - but it doesn't accomplish much else.
To give them credit, the cast seemed to take this seriously enough and played their parts well, although I understand from what I've read that the three leads did recognize the sheer silliness of it all and had their share of fun while making it. But a few chuckles and a decent cast aside, this just isn't a particularly good movie. In the end, what's most interesting about it is probably an appearance by a very young Jack Nicholson as the Lorre character's son. In terms of quality, his performance wasn't notable, and to be honest I didn't even recognize him until I saw his name in the closing credits. That, along with the team of Price, Lorre and Karloff) makes this movie a curiosity, but it doesn't make it good. (3/10)
Its clear that everyone on screen is having a good time and its hard not to share in the mirth. Made as part of the "Poe" series that AIP was churning out this film takes its name from the classic poem which Price recites at the opening as Lorre shows up in the form of a raven. Any notion of this being a scary film is quickly done away with when Lorre begins cracking wise. So much for another scare film like The House of Usher or The Masque of the Red Death. Its a welcome breath of fresh air from the Poe series and a great deal of fun.
Wile not a truly great film it is one that is a full of a great deal of fun as the actors who scared you as a child instead make you laugh. I don't know what else to say other than just see this film if you want to have a good time.
Peter Lorre as Dr. Bedlo is all but wasted before turning into a raven. Also in the cast are the eye opening Hazel Court, Connie Wallace and an awkward Jack Nicholson. I would not doubt that Price, Karloff and Lorre took the money and ran. By all means this is no career enhancer, but fun to watch during a late night party.
Anyway, I don't have the energy or imagination to even write a more descriptively bad review right now since I've been struck dumb by this mind-numbingly boring and painful to watch movie. Not scary, not funny, not interesting, not anything other than a colossal waste of time.
Oh, and Jack Nicholson was rather wooden I thought.
The fifth film Corman adapted from Poe's classic works and probably one of the best (and more well known). The cast is of course the main factor here, Vincent Price who stars in all but one of Corman's adaptations. Peter Lorre who stars in one other Corman/Poe adaptation, Boris Karloff and of course Jack Nicholson.
The plot is based around the Poe poem but of course is very very loose. Obviously most of it has been made up to fill out an entire film and frankly its pretty hokey and childish. Basically Price's character (a good sorcerer) is mourning the loss of his 'Lenore', a talking raven comes into his life which turns out to be Lorre who was turned into the raven by an evil sorcerer (Karloff). Lorre explains that he has seen Lenore at Karloff's castle so off they go to find her. Turns out Lenore faked her death and ran off to the evil 'Dr. Scarabus' (Karloff) to lure 'Dr. Erasmus Craven' (Price) to the castle so they can take his powers.
The plot is thinner than a supermodels waistline and merely serves to offer up some Price vs Karloff sorcery towards the end. Nothing really happens throughout the entire film other than a lot of silly dialog and some rather poor attempts at comedy, its very dated. Nicholson plays the part of a young lad and son of Lorre's character, who also falls for Dr. Erasmus Craven's daughter (she accompanies them all on their adventure to Karloff's castle). No real reason for him to be in this really, he does nothing other than serve up wooden deliveries.
The visuals in the film are nice with that musky old haunted castle type atmosphere, plenty of old leather bound armchairs and dusty bookcases. Price fits the scene like a glove of course, Karloff seems a bit out of place being slightly too serious but he looks good, while Lorre's character is a real misery and quite unlikable, but its all about his voice isn't it. Some nice matte painting work on the outside castle shots, totally fake looking of course but I love that kinda stuff, nice cheesy storm too.
Overall its rather lame really, yes I know its a cult classic with an ultra classic legendary cast but the film is pretty dull and uneventful. The highlight is easily the sorcery battle between Price and Karloff in the finale. A great fun and quite long continuous sequence with some nice ideas and nice effects too. The ending is very soft but what do you expect? this is soft core 1960's horror here, back in the day I'm sure it was deemed quite thrilling.
I'm sure the hardcore fanboys of these silver screen stars will love this, I enjoyed it but must admit I was bored. The finale is cool but the rest is merely filler, still worth your time though purely for the cast.
'Quoth the raven, Nevermore.'