A former sorcerer is forced into a battle of wills with a powerful wizard
after he is approached by a man whose been turned into a raven.
The Raven (1963)
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff,
Olive Sturgess, Jack Nicholson, Hazel Court
Based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven is such a strange film, but something about Vincent Price's unmatched charisma keeps it from completely falling apart. Somehow from Poe's epic poem, Corman and Matheson constructed a comedic fantasy about a sorcerer who's given up the life, only to be forced back into it when a raven approaches him, claiming he's really a man. On top of that, you've got cinematic legends Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff in their twilight years. How could this not be incredible? Well, because it's just plain ridiculous.
Price plays Dr. Erasmus Craven (every character is a doctor, for some reason), who is sitting at home reciting Poe's poem to himself, when a raven enters his home claiming to be Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre), who lost a battle with a powerful sorcerer. Craven restores him, then goes to confront Dr. Scarabus (Karloff) because he believes he may hold captive the spirit of his wife, Lenore (Hazel Court). I figured this would have no connection to the poem, because how could it? But the film is so incredibly corny and nonsensical at times that it's almost laughable. But as I said before, there's something that Vincent Price brings to his performances that keep you engaged. He's mesmerizing. Plus, you've got a very young Jack Nicholson in one of his earliest roles. How could you not love that?
The Raven has a truly bizarre premise and a story that goes virtually nowhere, but the performances are so delightfully over the top that you just end up enjoying what you can about it. Vincent Price became a film icon thanks to his eccentric personality and flawless screen presence. This film is no exception to the rule.