Director: Lew Landers
Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews, Irene Ware, Samuel S. Hinde
Dr. Richard Vollin is a famous surgeon who is called upon when the young Jean gets seriously injured in a car accident. After he saves her life, he starts to develop feelings for her and also reveals his obsession with Edgar Allan Poe to her.
Jean’s father reacts badly to Dr. Vollins feelings for his daughter and stops the possible affair from happening, so the good doctor comes up with a plan to take revenge upon them. He destroys the face of a poor criminal that seeks his help and uses him as a henchman in his evil plans. He invites Jean and her close ones to a dinner party and sets his evil plans in motion.
The Raven is one of three Universal Picture movies of the time that put the legendary Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi together. Lugosi has the leading role here, playing the sinister Dr. Vollin. Logusi has such a big presence here and seems to be very into his part as the evil doctor, almost overplaying it a bit. Karloff doesn’t get that much to do with his supporting role, but does make the most out of it. Yet again he plays a big monster, but who can really complain when it does it so well. The rest of the cast is outshined by these two and I can’t say that I noticed anything particularly great about any of them.
The poem of Edgar Allan Poe and the author himself is frequently mentioned and quoted during this film. Poe’s stories are clearly a big influence on the film, but it is fun to see that it is not a direct adaption of any of his work, but rather a story that flows around Poe’s work.
The film runs for a little over 60 minutes and that was enough for me. There isn’t much else to enjoy here than watching two of the biggest stars from the horror genre display their talent, especially Lugosi. Director Lew Landers seemed to go through the motions with this shoot, making it lack the creativity and innovation that the classics of that time period did.
The Raven ends up being entertaining, mainly because of Bela Lugosi. Other than him, there isn’t much else to enjoy on this film and if someone was going to try out the Universal horror movies of the 30’s, then there are better stuff out there than this film.