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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Raven (1935)

A genius medical surgeon (Bela Lugosi), who is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe, has sadistic tendencies and has a collection of torture devices in a secret chamber. When he is spurned by the woman (Irene Ware) he loves, his plots a diabolical revenge. Although Edgar Allan Poe is given credit as the source material, other than the title of his most famous poem, there's really nothing of Poe in the movie. Directed by Lew Landers, this is still a fun horror movie though it's more kitsch than genuinely scary. As the mad doctor, Lugosi can't resist hamming it up shamelessly but Boris Karloff as the poor deformed wretch blackmailed by Lugosi gives a sympathetic and subtle performance. Surprisingly, the film's torture and mutilation proved too gruesome for 1935 audiences and the film was not a success. It is a rather sick and twisted tale and even some 80 years later, it remains quite unpleasant in its sadism. But there's no denying how skillful Landers is at creating a creepy ambiance. Compared to Karloff and Lugosi, the rest of the cast are a dull lot. With Lester Matthews, Inez Courtney, Ian Wolfe and Samuel S. Hinds whose pompous judge may be even more unsympathetic than Lugosi.

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