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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12%
Worth A Look: 16%
Just Average: 12%
Pretty Crappy: 0%

2 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Raven, The (1963)
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by Jay Seaver

"Everyone does their worst work at once."
1 stars

Look at the credits for this. Price, Lorre, and Karloff. Jack Nicholson before he was JACK NICHOLSON. Richard Matheson writing what amounts to an original story, and Roger Corman directing. All of those people have done some shoddy movies in their time, sure, but they've all done impressive enough work that you'd think someone would be on their game. That's not the case, though, and the result is almost no fun at all.

Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is a sorcerer, though he mostly keeps his sorcery to himself. One night, though, a raven flies in through his window and starts talking to him. It turns out to be Adolphus Bedlo (Peter Lorre), transmogrified by another magician, Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). Craven wants no part of these wizard turf wars, though his mind changes when Bedlo claims to have seen Craven's late wife Lenore (Hazel Court) at Scarabus's castle. So, with Craven's daughter Estelle (Olive Sturgess) and Bedlo's son Rexford (Nicholson) in tow, they head out to confront Scarabus.

Deliberate camp is almost always always painful, and that's not just a recent phenomenon. Still, though everything in The Raven is done with a wink and a nudge, I'm not sure this film is really in the camp mode. Camp requires a certain amount of effort from the participants, and while the intent here is for the audience to laugh, the majority of the cast and crew appear to be mailing it in. Scenes which could be dry or limp almost invariably end up as the latter. Plot twists occur without thrilling or exciting; it's just something else that has happened as the film drunk-walks to the hour and a half mark.

By far the most obvious lack of effort comes from Peter Lorre. He quite frankly seems annoyed to be there, and I don't think he shows an actual emotion other than irritation throughout the film. He can't even muster the effort to be a sniveling coward, and if you can't get that from Peter Lorre, what's the point? Hazel Court and Olive Sturgess are unimpressive, respectively chewing scenery and being blandly winsome, and Karloff seems to be trying to be charming when he'd be much better off with intimidating. Jack Nicholson actually fares rather well as the square-jawed hero of the piece - oddly, the performance made me think it was a shame that he didn't do westerns in his early career. Price's light touch comes out looking the best.

Still not good, unfortunately - he doesn't have much in the way of quality material to work with. Matheson's story gives the feeling of being made up as he went along, with no goal other than ending on "quoth the Raven nevermore". Corman doesn't do much to help; like the rest of the cast and crew, he seems to be coasting along, unable to help his cast find the right rhythm for Matheson's words, which perhaps might have been fun with snappy delivery. It's as if all the money was spent on animation effects (which, for an enterprise this side, aren't that bad), leaving no margin for error with the rest.

I suppose movies like "The Raven" do the rest of moviekind a sort of service: It's better if everybody involved has their worst work in one place, rather than having the substandard work strewn over a half-dozen films.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4182&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/20/09 23:22:15
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User Comments

2/02/14 Kingneutron Wow u guys evidently have no taste for the classics. This brought back some great memories. 4 stars
3/09/10 Richard Brandt Starts off with one of the biggest laughs in cinema history; all downhil from there 3 stars
3/02/08 art THIS MOVIE SUCK'S IT HAS 3 HAM'S IN It 1 stars
5/26/06 Mac McLeod The greatest comedy horror film of all times. 5 stars
9/03/04 T.B. This is the funnies! 3 stars
5/24/04 Alexander Gonzalez This`film is a classic, with past and future award winners! 4 stars
1/20/04 Tom Davis Are you folks kidding? This movie was fun! 4 stars
11/21/03 Charles Tatum HUGE disappointment 1 stars
8/13/03 Jeannie Karlsen I LOVE Corman's Edgar Allen Poe adaptations they are all awesome!!! 5 stars
4/30/03 Nelson Hemphill Fun and Campy. Lorre is a hoot. 4 stars
11/04/02 Deanna Camp, weird effects, funny as hell. 5 stars
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  02-Aug-1963 (NR)
  DVD: 26-Aug-2003



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