I started watching the Corman-Poe cycle of films last year. In case you don’t know these, they are 8 films made in the 60’s by Roger Corman which are loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe poems. They would be Corman’s greatest claim to fame and so far, I’ve actually enjoyed them.
This one, The Raven, is very, very loosely based on the Poe poem of the same name. Actually the only real tether the film has to the poem is a few passages that are read aloud from the poem both at the opening and close.
The story is of a magician who is turned into a raven by another magician, the former seeking transformational assistance from yet a third magician. There are a number of subplots, particularly Price’s characters lamenting over his late wife but these are not compelling nor do they follow the intent of Poe’s poems. What is compelling is that the Holy Trinity of old school horror anchor this film – Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Despite the Poe roots and the presence of horror-masters, this is not a horror film, its a comedy, albeit a bit on the dark side.
While the production quality is definitely B, the props are ridiculous and the acting is quirky, I still recommend it for several reasons.
- I don’t think there is another film with the Trinity of Horror starring in a comedy
- This was one of Peter Lorre’s last films
- This was one of Jack Nicholson’s first films (then a mere 25)
- Nicholson displays the “Here’s Johnny” grin which would become legendary later in The Shinning.