Film / The Raven (1963)

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!":

  • 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!: 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.

  • The Ditz: Rexford
  • 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).
    • One scene can be summed up as "Price and Lorre Do Something Funny With a Box of Hats."
  • Implacable Man: Scarabus survives his castle crumbling on top of him, only losing his magical powers.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Of course. It is sort-of based on Poe, after all.
  • 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.
  • Wizard Duel: Between Craven and Scarabus.