Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Raven (1935)

3.5 / 5 Mar '01
Tagline: While this mad surgical genius chanted "The Raven," horrible screams rose up from his torture chamber below!
Directed by: Lew Landers
Written by: David Boehm, Edgar Allan Poe
Actors include: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews
Genre: Horror
Length: 61 minutes
Banned: Nope

I think that calling this film "The Raven" was perhaps not the wisest choice as having read the poem I wasn't sure what they'd make a movie about. Having now seen the movie I know it has little to do with the poem aside from the fact that our lead character is obsessed with Poe and has a statue of a Raven. If anything it shares a lot more in common with The Pit and the Pendulum and various other mad scientist plots. At the time this really freaked out audiences because it does have a lot of disturbing material (if you aren't used to that sort of thing). The plot is about Dr. Vollin (Bela Lugosi) a brilliant yet sadistic scientist who loves Poe so very very much. After he's begged to help out a Dame who was in a car accident (silly women can't drive) and of course he ends up falling in love with her. She's got a fiancee and her Father disapproves of the idea of her being with Vollin. For some odd reason they (along with several others) accept an invitation to Vollin's house for a party sleepover. What they don't know is that Mr. Bateman (Boris Karloff) came to Vollin earlier to ask for a facial reconstruction (because he feels ugly) but instead to blackmail him into doing what he wants he disfigures him. Oh and did I mention that Dr. Vollin has a torture chamber and a house full of amazing technology? It's interesting, it definitely has some evil ideas and I like that, Bela is great as an evil madman and Karloff as the sympathetic monster (hmmm where have I seen that before?). The Women in this film are seriously annoying, I know the whole equality thing didn't come until much later but wowsa...dumb. Still worth watching but just don't expect much to do with The Raven. Oh and I should mention that the '50s film of the same name is completely unrelated to this film.

Availability:  On DVD as part of the Bela Lugosi Collection

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