Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Raven (1935)

Director: Lew Landers

Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews, Irene Ware, Samuel S. Hinds, Spencer Charles, Inez Courtney, Ian Wolfe, Maidel Turner

More info: IMDb

Tagline: While this mad surgical genius chanted "The Raven," horrible screams rose up from his torture chamber below!

Plot: A wealthy judge coaxes the brilliant but eccentric neurological surgeon Dr. Vollin (Lugosi), who also has an obsessive penchant for Edgar Allen Poe, out of retirement to save the life of his daughter, a dancer crippled and brain damaged in an auto wreck. Vollin restores her completely, but also envisions her as his "Lenore," and cooks up a scheme to kidnap the woman and torture and kill her fiance' and father in his Poe-inspired dungeon. To do his dirty work, Vollin recruits a wanted criminal (Karloff), and turns him into a hideous monster to guarantee his subservience.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

NICE! Don't get all shocked when you find that this has very little to do with Poe's poem. That doesn't mean you won't be surprised as hell that it's fucking great, though! While I liked THE BLACK CAT (1934), this one is much, much better. For starters moves faster; there's more going on. It's also got one hell of a final act. The last 15 minutes (out of a total of 61) is balls out insane for a movie of this time. Man, what I'd give to sit in a darkened theater in 1935. That would have been electric.

Karloff gets top billing but it's Lugosi's show all the way. Lugosi's persona is so cliched at this point it's sometimes tough to take. I prefer Lugosi when he's not being his slow-talking Lugosi self and when he's either really acting or he's just being a regular guy. He does a little of both in this picture. Shit, I wish you could see the last 15 minutes; it's off the charts.

Karloff is great as a Frankenstein-ish monster of a man that Lugosi fucks with which is really sad. They did some great makeup effects on him. His right eye is stationary. looking to the right while his other eye is free to move. It makes for some really cool and creepy moments. It ends as you would expect from a flick of this period which is more satisfying than a lot in this genre back then. I can't say enough about this movie. Find it anyway you can. Fans of Lugosi & Karloff are going to walk away from this one with a huge grin.

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