The Raven (1963)

THE RAVEN (1963)
Article #627 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 12/2/2002
Posting date: 4/27/2003

A meek magician finds himself drawn into a battle with an evil sorcerer.

This is the third movie I’ve covered supposedly based on this Edgar Allan Poe poem. Three more different movies you couldn’t find; the first was a partial biography of Poe himself, the second a nasty horror movie with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and this one, a fantasy/comedy (with horror elements) with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and (again) Boris Karloff. This is one of Corman’s Poe movies that I quite like; not only is it great to see three masters at work together like this, but by being more of a work of fantasy than one of horror, it doesn’t borrow overly much from Corman’s other Poe movies (there’s not a single premature burial subplot to be found). The nice thing is that all three stars have roles of equal weight and interest, and they are all excellent. In fact, it’s hard to pick a favorite; I lean towards Karloff, but Lorre is great, too, and Price (in the atypical role of the hero) equally so. The special effects aren’t quite up to the ambitions of the story, especially during the final sorcerer’s duel sequence (though a sequence involving a spear is quite effective), and the comedy isn’t quite as funny as it could have been, but the charm of the movie overrides these problems. Hazel Court also looks quite stunning here, and Jack Nicholson is also here, giving a much better performance than he would in THE TERROR. If this movie were in public domain and in release by cheapie video companies, I’ll leave it to you to guess who would be given top billing on the package.

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