The Raven (1935)

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7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some clever death scenes, Karloff and Lugosi

The story takes forever to get direction

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Raven

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  July 8, 1935

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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It’s my eye isn’t it…you’re looking at my eye…

Dr. Richard Vollin (Béla Lugosi) is a skilled doctor.  When he is called upon to save the life of Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) he finds himself infatuated with her despite the objections of her father (Samuel S. Hinds).  Obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe and his stories, Vollin hosts a dinner party intent on revenge.  Not only is Vollin using a large collection of traps to maim and kill his victims, but Vollin has blackmailed a man named Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff) to do his bidding…in exchange for fixing a face too horrid to look at.  Vollin has planned his revenge to the last detail…but when involving murder, plans can change!

Directed by Lew Landers, The Raven takes its name from the 1845 Edgar Allan Poe classic poem “The Raven”.  The movie was criticized for its violence and featured the second pairing of horror actors Lugosi and Karloff (who first teamed up in The Black Cat in 1934).  The movie is often included with other horror films from the period in collections.

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This is the slowest pendulum ever!

I always feel that horror films “based” off of Edgar Allan Poe stories are quite weak in that they aren’t really adaptations and generally just using Poe to try to get more attention.  That isn’t always a bad thing and the fact that Poe is essentially used the as a motivator for the crimes is a bit different than other horror films which simply stole titles.

The movie’s plot really however is distracted.  I like the Poe inspired killings and I like the idea of Lugosi’s character disfiguring Karloff to force him to commit crimes for him…I just wish that they had been separate movies.  The movie has a lot of great little traps and moments with the Poe stories and could even have more if there was more time devoted to it.  Instead, it switches to the Boris Karloff storyline as the primary story for the second half of the film with the Poe deaths becoming secondary.  Either story was sufficient enough to make a full film but instead you get two films that feel like half-films.

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I like to laugh!

The movie is another great pairing for Karloff and Lugosi.  Both actor eat up their scenes and really seem to enjoy the movie.  Be it Lugosi’s leering smile or Karloff’s tragic and somewhat surprisingly sad portrayal of Bateman, the movie features both actors at their peak and before they were completely typecast as horror actors.

The visuals for the movie aren’t the best.  The film often looks set based and frequently looks rather cheap.  It is a bit more intense and violent than some films from this period.  I can forgive the film because the horror was rather low budget, but when compared to other great horror films from the period, The Raven just doesn’t stack-up.

The Raven is a decent movie that has problems.  The plot of the film needed to be ironed out and streamlined, but still is enjoyable since it is a quick, fast watch.  I love Lugosi and Karloff and it is always fun to see them join forces.  Fans of classic horror should seek this one out, and if you love a little more shock and gore, it is interesting to see how horror evolved over the years.  A Roger Corman film took the title in 1963, and in 2012, another horror film entitled The Raven did feature another killer using Poe stories as the basis for crimes.

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Related Links:

The Raven (2012)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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