Take 3: The Raven (1963) Review

April Fool’s Day; a time for jokes, pranks, and laughter. On such a day, a comedic film would be most appropriate. Therefore, it’s time to introduce my selection for The ‘Favorite Stars in B movies’ Blogathon: 1963’s The Raven! Recommended by the late Patricia from Caftan Woman, I discovered this particular title was considered a “B movie” while searching for the perfect movie to write about. It just so happens to star an actor that is no stranger to 18 Cinema Lane; Vincent Price! The Raven is the tenth film of Vincent’s I have seen and reviewed. Most of his projects I have enjoyed to various degrees. But how will the 1963 title turn out? Don’t fly away from this review, as the review is about to begin!

The Raven (1963) poster created by Alta Vista Productions and American International Pictures

Things I liked about the film:

Interactions between characters: When creating a movie, it’s important to cast actors and actresses who not only perform well individually, but also within a group. If the quality among the cast is strong, the interactions between their characters will appear realistic to the audience. This is the impression I received as I watched The Raven. Scenes shared by Vincent Price and Peter Lorre serve as one great example. In one scene, Vincent’s character, Dr. Erasmus Craven, has attempted to reverse the spell placed on Dr. Adolphus Bedlo, Peter Lorre’s character. Unfortunately, Craven’s attempt doesn’t go according to plan. Bedlo is distraught at having wings for arms. His face bears a frown, eyes filled with a sad look. With disdain and concern is his voice, Bedlo is afraid the spell’s effects will be permanent. Meanwhile, Craven bears a look of concern on his face. But with a worried look in his eyes, Craven appears to care about the well-being of his friend. Through interactions like the one I described, Craven and Bedlo’s friendship felt believable. That was made possible with a combination of screen-writing and the performances of Vincent and Peter!

The humor: I knew The Raven was classified as a “horror-comedy” before I watched it. However, I was surprised by how the comedy was incorporated into the story! The humor in The Raven was mostly found within the dialogue. But the movie’s climax is where the humor really shines! In this scene, Craven and Dr. Scarabus, portrayed by Boris Karloff, participate in a magical duel. When it was Craven’s turn to use his magic, his responses to Scarabus became sillier as the duel continued. I won’t spoil this part of the story, for readers who haven’t seen this movie yet. All I will say is the humor was so well executed, I burst out laughing on numerous occasions.

Following the characters’ journey: The Raven is about Craven and his friend, Bedlo, traveling to Scarabus’ castle to reclaim Bedlo’s magic and save the spirit of Craven’s late wife, Lenore. As the story unfolds, the audience witnesses the steps Bedlo and Craven take in order to make the trip a reality. Seeing this step-by-step process allows viewers to feel like they are traveling alongside the characters. That creative decision adds interactivity to the story!

The ‘Favorite Stars in B movies’ Blogathon banner created by Brian from The Films from Beyond the Time Barrier

What I didn’t like about the film:

Inconsistent parts of the story: Within the The Raven, there were times when parts of the story were inconsistent. In one example, Craven and Bedlo need hair from a dead man. So, they take some hair from Craven’s deceased father. In order to open the casket of Craven’s father, Craven uses a knife to pry open the casket’s lid. A few scenes later, when Bedlo and Craven want to open Lenore’s casket, they are easily able to lift the lid. While these inconsistencies were not a common flaw, I believe this issue could have been avoided.

A drawn-out first half: As I already mentioned in this review, I liked how the characters’ journey allowed the audience to feel like they were traveling alongside the characters. But because of the movie’s hour and twenty-six-minute run-time, this journey was drawn out. Within the story’s first half, the sense of urgency was limited. There was also a small conflict that prolonged the journey. With those flaws addressed, it makes me wonder if this story would have worked better as a short film?

A random plot twist: For this part of my review, I will spoil a plot twist in The Raven. If you are interested in watching this movie, but have not seen it yet, please skip ahead to the section titled ‘My overall impression’.

While spending the night at Scarabus’ castle, Bedlo helps Scarabus trap Craven, his daughter, Estelle, and Bedlo’s son, Rexford. After Scarabus and Bedlo succeed, Bedlo confesses he tricked Craven into coming to Scarabus’ castle, in order to gain more magic from Scarabus. While this plot twist was unexpected, it felt random. There was no indication Bedlo would be that under-handed. Plus, this plot twist came right after another plot twist had been revealed. In my opinion, the plot twist involving Bedlo felt like it was included in the story just for the sake of it.

Image of crow at sunset created by Rayudu NVS at freeimages.com. Photo by <a href=”/photographer/rayudu238-57835″>rayudu NVS</a> from <a href=”https://freeimages.com/”>FreeImages</a&gt;. Image found at freeimages.com.

My overall impression:

As of early April, 2023, I have seen two Corman productions based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe; The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven. A sense of wonder exudes from these two movies. What I mean by this is, I am amazed by how these creative teams were able to take simple stories and turn them into feature films! While I liked The Raven, I still prefer The Pit and the Pendulum. This is because of the movie’s flaws, such as the drawn-out first half and the random plot twist. However, there were strengths in The Raven, like the interactions between characters and the humor. I’m aware of Vincent Price’s other movies based on Edgar’s work. I’ll have to check those out another day!

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

Have you seen or read The Raven? Are there any adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s work you’d like me to review? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun on April Fool’s Day!

Sally Silverscreen

18 thoughts on “Take 3: The Raven (1963) Review

  1. I too, remember dear Paddy telling me about this once, and it sounds like her kinda film for sure—though I’m wondering how they depicted Peter Lorre with wings for arms…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mercurie80

    I recently saw The Raven again on Svengoolie and I do have to agree with your assessment. The first half is definitely far too drawn out. Still, it is fun seeing Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre interact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out my review, Mercurie80! Boris, Peter, and Vincent also starred together in the 1963 film, ‘The Comedy of Terrors’. Since this movie has been recommended to me, I’ll have to write about it in a future review!


  3. You make an excellent point about the importance of casting in B films. The premise may be a little out there, but if the cast seems cohesive it helps us go along with it.

    Thanks for presenting an objective review, as is your way. You highlighted some really interesting aspects, and I’m going to see if I can find this film. Thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brian Schuck

    Thank you so much for this contribution to the blogathon! While I share your preference for The Pit and the Pendulum, it’s hard not to like The Raven, with the soulfully comic Peter Lorre serving as the foil for the adversarial wizards played by horror icons Price and Karloff. And then there’s the presence of Jack Nicholson, who has a penchant for black comedy. I can imagine someone unfamiliar with his early career being startled to see young Jack in this comedy-horror-fantasy.

    Of all of the Corman Poe adaptations, Masque of the Red Death gives me the greatest sense of wonder (and dread — but a good kind of dread.) 🙂 I highly recommend it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome and thanks for checking out my review! Thanks also for your film recommendation! Will definitely add ‘Masque of the Red Death’ to my movie suggestion board on Pinterest!


  5. I think you’ve really caught the strengths and weaknesses about this Corman film, which is still one of his best (yeah, the Bedlo plot twist doesn’t quite fit in). I really do enjoy The Raven overall, particularly the interactions between the stars Price, Lorre, and Karloff–you sense how much they enjoy working with each other. I also always get a kick out of seeing the very young Jack Nicholson here, who plays it so goofy (so different from his later, starring roles!). The movie is one I can re-watch and still find new things to enjoy each time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading my review, Grand Old Movies! I’ve been recommended several films starring Vincent Price, including 1963’s ‘The Comedy of Terrors’. I will have to write about those movies in future reviews!


      1. One of my favorite Vincent Price-Roger Corman films is The Masque of the Red Death – very well done and creepy, and well-acted by Price and the cast. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend that one!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. John L. Harmon

    Good review of the raven!
    I only saw it for the first time earlier this year and was delighted by the fun craziness. I didn’t catch some of the flaws you mentioned, so maybe my second viewing will be with a more critical eye.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent review! I like this film, mainly because of the iconic horror stars and for seeing Jack Nicholson in his early days. What has always bothered me is the way the posters for the film are promising a serious horror film, and what viewers get instead is mostly comedy. Considering how dark and serious the original version of The Raven was, with Karloff going up against Bela Lugosi, this adaptation is kind of disappointing. Still, you can’t argue with all that star power. I recommend Masque of the Red Death and House of Usher. Both are visually gorgeous and deeply serious in tone, just as The Pit and the Pendulum is. However, don’t overlook The Premature Burial and Tomb of Ligeia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out my review, Michael! I can see why you’d feel the poster for ‘The Raven’ is misleading. I experienced this deception when I reviewed ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter’. Based on that film’s poster, I thought the movie would be humorous in a “so bad it’s good” way. But the film’s creative team took their project a little too seriously.

      By the way, thanks for the film recommendations! Will add those titles to my movie suggestion board on Pinterest!


  8. Michael

    Price and Lorre were good friends and I think that relationship comes through when they worked together in comedic roles. They always seem to be having a lot of fun together which is fun to watch. Others have already mentioned The Comedy of Terrors which is great and adds the wonderful Basil Rathbone to the mix. Another Corman film with Rathbone, Price, and Lorre is Tales of Terror (1962). The film is not a comedy per se, but, the second story in particular, is fun as Price and Lorre portray two very different types of heavy drinkers in a wine tasting contest.

    Liked by 1 person

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