“Here’s some nice hot milk.” “Milk! How vomitable.”
Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is a sorcerer. He has been mourning the death of his wife Lenore (Hazel Court) for two years. One night a raven shows up. He is in reality Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (Peter Lorre), a wizard that has had a spell cast on him. He wants Craven’s help to change him back. Craven prepares a potion based on Bedlo’s instructions. Bedlo explains that he was transformed by Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff) in a sorcerer’s duel.
Bedlo sees a picture of Craven’s wife and says he saw her at Scarabus’ castle. Craven thinks that maybe Scarabus stole her soul. They both decide to go to Scarabus’ castle. One to extract revenge and the other to look for his wife’s soul. Bedlo’s son Rexford (Jack Nicholson) shows up. He insists on going with them. Craven’s daughter Estelle (Olive Sturgess) also insists on going with them.
When they get to the castle Scarabus welcomes them. At least that’s how it appears. Bedlo is trying to conger up a storm but Scarabus sneaks in some magic and has lightning zap Bedlo. He disappears in pool of raspberry jelly. With the storm outside Scarabus insists the others stay the night. Rexford is suspicious of Scarabus. And with good reason. Lenore visits Craven in the night to torment him. Now he realizes she is still alive. She left him for Scarabus. Rexford finds his father alive and hiding in the house. He tells Rexford to flee. Scarabus stops them, and they are imprisoned. Scarabus has arranged all this as a trap. He is after Craven’s magic. Craven is forced to choose between his daughter and his magic. Either give Scarabus his secrets to hand magic or see his daughter tortured.
“The Raven” was released in 1963. It was the fifth in the collaborative Corman/Poe/AIP production series. Although it is suppose to be based on the Poe poem “The Raven”, it really has almost nothing to do with it. Roger also directed the movie and the screenplay was done by Richard Matheson. The movie is a comedy/horror film. This is the second movie titled “The Raven” that Karloff was in. The first was in 1935 with Bela Lugosi.
The movie has quite a few stars to its credit; Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court and Jack Nicholson. The highest reported cost to make the movie was $350,000. It grossed over $1.5 million. The fire footage is stock footage from “The Fall of the House of Usher”.
Richard Matheson wrote Latin phrases in his screenplay for Dr. Adolphus Bedlo to say in casting his spells: Veni vidi vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. De mortuis nil nisi bonum: Do not speak ill of the dead. Cave canem: Beware of the dog. Si vis pacem parabellum: If you want peace, prepare for war. Ceterum censio Carthaginem esse delendam: Furthermore, I believe that Carthage must be destroyed.
I’m not big on comedies so I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to give the movie its due. It’s got a lot of great stars in it. Some of my favorites in fact. Vincent Price looks like he’s having a blast. The acting is good. The special effects are well done. The sets are lavish. I personally just didn’t think it was funny, or even amusing. But don’t go by me. Lots of people loved it. It’s a good movie for the whole family. There’s no smut or swearing. Just, thanks to Hazel Court, a little cleavage and any blue humor jokes are so subtle that you wonder if it’s really a Roger Corman movie.