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on 25 October 2008
This film is something of a triumph for Bela Lugosi, who steals the plaudits for his maniacal depiction of love crazed ,Poe obsessed surgeon Dr Vollin. After saving the life of a 'beautiful' young lady, Jean Thatcher, following a road accident, he falls in love only to be spurned by her and reprimanded by her father ( the canny Judge Thatcher. Did the scriptwriter like Mark Twain or something?). He decides to exact revenge using Poe derived torture devices with the help of escaped convict Edmond Bateman(Karloff), who comes to him seeking face altering surgery but is deliberately disfigured in a ploy to enlist his assistance.
Ignoring some absurdities, for example, Jean Thatcher's frankly crap ballet dancing show, lauded as 'brilliant', or the inept notion that the Lenore of Poe's 'Raven' was real and that Poe went mad through unrequited love, the film is something of a classic. Karloff's Bateman is a highly sympathetic character, and his restrained performance contrasts nicely with Lugosi's (quite suitably) neurotic, mad Dr Vollin. The other performances are quite pedestrian, but there are some classic horror scenes that remain etched in my memory. The scene where Lugosi lets Karloff see his disfigurement for the first time in a room full of mirrors,and laughs maniacally from above, is definitely one of the best scenes in horror history. And there are quite a few others.The film has similarities with its predecessor, 'the Black Cat,' where the goodie/ baddie roles are reversed between Karloff and Lugosi, but it's a classic in its own right. Check it out- Karloff got top billing but Lugosi definitely steals the show in what is arguably his strongest career performance after Dracula.
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Madness begets madness.

Horror legends Karloff and Lugosi return after the success of The Black Cat the previous year in this deliciously warped slice of horror. Lugosi is sublime as the unhinged Dr Vollin who is coaxed out of retirement to save the life of a pretty dancer {Irene Ware as Jean Thatcher}. He does but in the process becomes infatuated with her and sets about having her all to himself. This spells bad news for her father, Judge Thatcher {Samuel S. Hinds} and her fiancé, Dr. Jerry Holden {Lester Matthews}. Enlisting the help of wanted criminal Edmond Bateman {Karloff} whom has been disfigured by Vollin with the promise of restoring his face, he plots to do away with the men in Jean's life down in his Edgar Allen Poe inspired torture chamber basement.

Running at just over one hour, The Raven simmers nicely as the characters form, and then boils to the surface for the furious last quarter. In the build up we have been royally treated to some truly excellent scenes as Vollin steadily grows more deranged. The unmasking of Bateman post surgery is unnerving, and thanks to Karloff's ability at making a criminal sympathetic, heartfelt. This is followed by a mirror sequence that is a horror highlight of the 30s and puts us in no doubt that Vollin is a terrifying creation. The creepy house setting is naturally a horror staple but one can't help wondering what a better director than Lew Landers could have made with the simple but effective premise? It's solid enough from Landers, some nice shadow play etc, but what stops it breaking out into genre classic status is its lack of a creeping menace type atmosphere. Which is a shame as it has a potent score from Clifford Vaughan. Still, The Raven is a fine genre piece showcasing two genuine icons, and in spite of its obvious simplicity and little flaws, ends triumphantly in a blaze of insanity and ironic cruelty. 8/10
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 August 2011
Eminent surgeon Dr Richard Vollin (Bela Lugosi) saves the life of a beautiful young dancer, after which the unhinged doctor remains unsatisfied by the young lady's words of gratitude, instead he becomes obsessed with winning her at any cost, which includes plans to imprison her fiancee and father in a chamber equiped with instruments of torture, which are straight out of the imagination of classic horror writer Edgar Allan Poe, (shades of "The Pit And The Pendulum").

The cruelly scheming Dr Vollin manipulates on-the run murderer Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff) into helping him by deliberately disfiguring the man, while promising to repair the damage once his evil plans have been carried out. Lugosi and Karloff are again teamed to good effect, (following the earlier "Black Cat"). Lugosi may not be the most natural of actors, but his performance here is one of his best, an unsettling presence, with those famous piercing eyes. Karloff also puts in another good performance, his unsavoury but unfortunate character appears to invite our sympathy, (but does he deserve it - can he redeem himself?).

With Lugosi and Karloff playing two nasty pieces of work, in a well-paced and atmospheric 59-minute little chiller, a classic of the genre, what more could a vintage horror fan ask for?
The picture and sound quality are good (considering this is a 1935 release). There are no extras or subtitles.
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on 1 June 2000
Karloff and Lugosi were paired several times, but this particular Universal classic has always been my favourite of them all. Lugosi really shines as the mad doctor who loves to torture, and Karloff is pitiful as the unfortunate criminal Bateman. There are too many delightful scenes to mention, but if you like old-time horror and haven't seen this one yet; get it, you'll love it !.
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on 4 January 2010
Very atmospheric chiller this. Good transfer in sound and vision to DVD with two of the genres greatest stars. Karloff and Lugosi (together) in an excellent story. No other company did these sort of films better than Universal so this is a worthy addition to other films in the collection.
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on 10 November 2009
Good 30's thriller.

Here Bela Lugosi (Dracula 1931) does a fine job of the 'maniacal' surgeon asked to save a judge's daughter.
He falls in love with the girl and Lugosi twists Boris Karloff, (Frankenstein 1931) into helping accomplish his evil plan to get her.

Karloff is not given as much to do here as in the 'Monster role'.
He plays second fiddle well, But I felt with a meatier role the film would have been better.

The 'Poe' connection is tenious, but welcome and for the most part handled well (Except the melodrama of a dance, set to the wonderful poem; 'The Raven').

But if all you know of Lugosi is Dracula, then you should see him here!

By no means an exceptional film, but 'all in all' a nice dark thriller for a winters night.
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on 27 September 2014
Though The Raven quotes Edgar Allen Poe's poem throughout, the movie is more based on Poe's other work The Pit and the Pendulum. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi head the cast with roles switched. Lugosi plays the mad doctor out for revenge and Karloff plays a petty criminal on the run, who wants his face changed. I should note that Karloff comes across as a petty criminal, though off screen kills a few people to escape. But his character is no more than a slave to Lugosi, and redeems himself somewhat come the films end. The make up applied to Karloff and the way he acts through it are very good.

Bela Lugosi really dives into this one and probably gives one of his best performances as the mad Dr Viollin. He gets better and better as the movie rolls on. The first 40 minutes are fantastic, but the film can't quite keep up the pace, and the final third feels a little static (though stacked with action). It's as if the rest of the story was being written frame by frame and the actors are hanging around to find out what happens. The Raven was directed by Lew Landers, though he uses his real name here- Louis Friedlander.

This film with its violence (considered tame of course by today's standards) led to a ban on horror films in England for a short period.
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on 14 June 2013
This film was originally released in 1935 and was the second Universal horror film in which Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff starred together. It is supposed to be based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, which is completely inaccurate, because everyone knows that The Raven was a poem and not a story! It has little else to do with Poe, apart from elements from The Pit And The Pendulum story and the fact that Lugosi's character has a stuffed raven in his study. This film is rated 15, the same as The Black Cat and it is a little strange how such an old film can still be judged worthy of a 15 certificate now. There is very little in the film to justify this rating, apart from references to torture, some very mild violence and some borderline sadism, particularly from Lugosi's character. Despite that, this is still a classic film and one of the best of Universal's 1930s ouput and so is well worth seeing to fans of that era or that genre. I give it five stars, because it is easily as good as The Black Cat, in my opinion. One of the best Lugosi/Karloff films ever made.
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on 3 September 2013
Another Small Black & White Universal film from Carl Laemmle
This time with Lugosi as the mad surgeon and Karloff as the
disfigured gangster. This is a lovely macabre horror classic
inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Some very good inventive
instruments of torture and set pieces. And great revenge
scenes at the finale.
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on 5 June 2013
This is a great companion piece to Dracula with Bela more menacing than ever.Plus with "Karloff",as they say in the credits,you get undertones of frankenstein,GREAT.The picture & sound are good but no extras (.
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