Film / The Raven (1963)

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The Raven is a 1963 Horror-Comedy film directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. It is the fifth film in Corman's "Poe Cycle." It tells the story of 16th Century sorcerer Dr. Erasmus Craven (Price) who gets visited by the title bird, who is actually another sorcerer, Dr. Bedlo (Lorre), due to Dr. Scarabus (Karloff) transforming him. After Craven restores Bedlo to himself, he, his daughter Estelle, Bedlo and Bedlo's son Rexford (Jack Nicholson) go after Scarabus for revenge.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki and at IMDB.


"The Macabre Masterpiece of Tropes!":

  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie accurate adapts the first verses of the poem, but resolutely goes in a completely different way as soon as the Raven is introduced, which puts the amount of screentime based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem a whooping seven minutes opening credits included. The rest of the film is not only unrelated to the novel, but generally doesn't have much in common with Poe's work in general.
  • Altum Videtur: While casting his spells, Bedlo says "Veni vidi vici", "De mortuis nil nisi bonum", "Cave canem" (beware of the dog), "Si vis pacem parabellum" ("If you want peace, prepare for war") and "Ceterum censio Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.")
  • Anything but That!: Dr Bedlo convinces Scarabus to turn him back into a bird rather than have to face torture.
  • Beneath the Mask: A recurring theme in the film.
    • Dr. Erasmus Craven first comes across as an innocent, yet inept wizard, only to reveal that he is the most powerful sorcerer in the film.
    • Dr. Bedlo acts as a drunken fool of a wizard with a grudge against Dr. Scarabus for beating him in an "unfair" duel, only to reveal that he was working for Dr. Scarabus the whole time under the promise that he teaches him secret magic.
    • Dr. Scarabus presents himself as a kind and humble host that does not provoke easily only to have masterminded the entire night's events, has taken Craven's wife willingly for himself and would even torture his daughter so that he would give up the secrets of his family's magic.
    • Lenore is believed to be dead only to not only be alive, but she is willingly with Scarabus for his wealth and power. She tries to win Craven back when the castle burns, but he won't have it.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Dr. Scarabus has one, which collapses at the end as a result of Craven deflecting fireballs at the walls.
  • The Ditz: Rexford.
  • Dr. Genericius: Dr. Erasmus Craven and Dr. Scarabus, obviously. Dr. Bedlo's name does not end in -us, but is still a Latin-sounding name, as well.
  • Faking the Dead: Craven has been mourning his late wife Lenore, who, it turns out, is alive and well, having left him for Scarabus.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Lorre and Nicholson liked improvising their lines, which frustrated Karloff (who was a strictly-by-the-script type).
  • Implacable Man: Scarabus survives his castle crumbling on top of him, although the magical effort needed to protect himself strains him so much that he loses control of his powers in the ordeal.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: All the wizards in the film are called 'Doctor', which may imply graduation from some sort of Magic School it's never explained.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: None of the cast liked working with the actual bird, since it would defecate on everyone.
  • Sadistic Choice: Scarabus forces Craven to choose between Estelle getting tortured and giving up the secrets of his "hand magic".
  • Talking Animal: The title bird (though only because it's really Bedlo turned into a bird by Scarabus).
  • The Archmage: Dr. Scarabus, the frighteningly powerful (and extremely wealthy) Grandmaster of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers. Complete with Big Fancy Castle and oddly pope-like clothing.
  • Wizard Duel: Between Craven and Scarabus. Hilariously, their magic being the only factor at play, they're not even doing anything during the duel other than wave their hands, and go through the whole thing comfortably sitting in armchairs.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheRaven1963