Raven, The (1963): Roger Corman’s Horror Movie, Starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff

One of Roger Corman’s better horror films, The Raven benefits from a bigger budget than the usual, and a stellar cast of iconic actors, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers.

The supporting cast features includes Jack Nicholson, in a supporting role as Lorre’s character’s son, would at the end of the decade would emerge as a major talent and leading man (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces)

It was the fifth in the Corman-Poe cycle of eight films adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories produced (or directed) by Corman and released by American International Pictures (AIP).

Scripted by Richard Matheson, The Raven is inspired by Poe’s famous 1845 poem of the same title.

Karloff had appeared in another film with the same title, Lew Landers’s 1935 horror, The Raven with Bela Lugosi.

Set during the fifteenth century, the story begins with Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) mourning the death of his longtime wife Lenore (Hazel Court), much to the chagrin of his daughter Estelle (Olive Sturgess).

In a final scene, Bedlo tries to convince Craven to again restore his human form, but Craven commands him to shut his beak, “Quoth the raven–nevermore.”

The movie takes the approach of a comic-book, based on Richard Metheson’s belief that comedy was the only viable way to adapt a poem.  He and Corman had  previously made the comic “The Black Cat” episode of Tales of Terror.

Shot in 15 days, the film is based on improvisation, a strategy that paid off in the scenes involving Peter Lorre, who ad-libbed lines that later on became famous.

Cast
Vincent Price as Dr. Erasmus Craven
Peter Lorre as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo
Boris Karloff as Dr. Scarabus
Hazel Court as Lenore Craven
Olive Sturgess as Estelle Craven
Jack Nicholson as Rexford Bedlo
Connie Wallace as Maid
William Baskin as Grimes
Aaron Saxon as Gort

Credits:

Directed, produced by Roger Corman
Written by Richard Matheson, based on “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Ronald Sinclair
Distributed by American International Pictures

Release date: January 25, 1963

Running time: 86 minutes
Budget $350,000
Box office $1,499,275