Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Raven, The (1963)

Directed by:
Roger Corman

A bona fide schlock horror spoof, set in the 15th Century, finds rival sorcerers Vincent Price and Boris Karloff (both great in their roles, naturally) caught up in a delightful battle-of-powers on their quest for supremacy, which culminates in an exciting sorcerers duel; a classic fusing of comedy and fantasy with some dated, but still fun, special effects. Co-star Peter Lorre has a field day, gets many of the funniest lines and pretty much steals the entire film as a fellow sorcerer who is cursed to occasionally transform into a raven, Hazel Court is asked to do little but stand around looking ravishing in some provocative gowns (though it is to her credit that she generates laughs and great sex appeal when given little to work with) and Jack Nicholson delivers what must be the worst performance of his entire career (rivaling his work in THE TERROR) as Lorre's daffy son. Special effects are imaginative for the time and the screenplay by Richard Matheson (who knows this territory quite well, having adapted HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and others for Corman) has very little, if anything, to do with the Poe poem, but is instead a playful send-up of the entire cycle of films. Corman later claimed that some of the dialogue was ad-libbed and this was one of his all-time favorite movie shoots. Cinematographer Floyd Crosby, composer Les Baxter and others capture the appropriate mood in this fun B flick. Also with Olive Sturgess and John Dierkes.


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