Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Raven (1963)

























A few films with this title now, which is the better you may ask, well it certainly isn't the one with John Cusack. An intriguing Corman take on the classic Poe poem, a horror comedy with his typical B-movie visuals and cheesy dialog. Of course this being a horror his style works and adds huge amounts of ghoulish charm to the proceedings.

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.'

6/10