One of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems is The Raven. I first heard about it as a segment on the very first Simpsons Halloween Special. Then shortly after I discovered that back in the 60s there was a full-length movie about The Raven based on that old poem, but with many new additions.
Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is a sorcerer mourning the loss of his wife Lenore (Hazel Court). Then it’s revealed that Dr. Craven has a daughter, Estelle (Olive Sturgess), and that’s just the first of many added elements to the movie that were not in the original poem.
The raven that comes to Dr. Craven through his window is actually another sorcerer under an enchantment and can say a lot more than just “nevermore”.
This sorcerer is Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre). He loves wine and has hilarious antics. The chemistry between Peter Lorre and Vincent Price is so great that I can always tell that whenever they team up, it’s easy to see that the movie will be a hilarious horror feature.
Dr. Beldo also has a son named Rexford (Jack Nicholson). Even though The Raven was one of Jack Nicholson’s earlier films, I can’t get over how amazing it is to see how young he looked back then.
The main villain is master sorcerer Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). It was he who transformed Dr. Bedlo in an unfair duel and took his magic equipment. Now Dr. Bedlo wants revenge. Dr. Craven joins him after realizing how powerful Dr. Scarabus has become and that Lenore’s spirit is also involved.
First when Dr. Bedlo takes him on, Dr. Scarabus stops him easily. He actually melts Dr. Bedlo’s wand by blowing on it. That’s a funny highlight when Dr. Beldo reacts to it by saying, “You dirty old man.”
The real display of power is shown when Dr. Craven and Dr. Scarabus battle in a magic duel to the death. The effects may appear cartoonish compared to today’s standards, but are still just as exciting.
This is a real horror classic and it’s so poetic how Vincent Price narrates as he recites part of the original poem. He’s such an amazing actor. In fact it was this movie, The Raven, that first got me interested in other Vincent Price horror films of that era. I’ll be blogging about some of those in the future.