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Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Olive Sturgess ... see more see more... , Jack Nicholson , Connie Wallace , William Baskin , Aaron Saxon , Jim McCullough Jr.

Although Roger Corman narrowly managed to avoid self-mockery in his pulpy, flamboyant adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe tales, it appears that the director chose this opportunity to let loose with outrig... read more read parody; the result is a wonderfully entertaining romp with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The first screen teaming of legendary horror stars Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre -- later billed as "The Triumvirate of Terror" -- this so-called "adaptation" uses Poe's most famous poem as a springboard for Grand Guignol comedy from scriptwriter Richard Matheson. Melancholy magician Erasmus Craven (Price), having recently relinquished his membership in the Brotherhood of Sorcerers after the apparent death of his wife Lenore (Hazel Court), is paid a visit by a foul-mouthed talking raven, claiming to be small-time wizard Adolphus Bedlo (Lorre). After some persuasion, Craven returns Bedlo to human form, reversing a spell placed by the evil Dr. Scarabus (Karloff), Craven's chief rival. After learning that a woman bearing a strong likeness to Lenore was seen in the Doctor's company, Craven accompanies Bedlo to Scarabus' castle, where the resulting battle of wills escalates into all-out magical warfare between the two embittered sorcerers. Corman and company relished the opportunity to poke fun at the staid Poe series, and the distinguished leads contribute to the spirit of fun by lampooning their own cinematic reputations. Fans of Jack Nicholson (who cut his acting teeth on this and other AIP productions) should enjoy his melodramatic performance here as Bedlo's straight-arrow son; Nicholson would later co-star with Karloff in Corman's The Terror, which was shot in two days using the same sets! ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

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65% liked it

4,495 ratings


91% liked it

11 critics

G, 1 hr. 26 min.

Directed by: Roger Corman

Release Date: January 25, 1963

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Stats: 256 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (256)

  • February 17, 2014
    A few films with this title now, which is the better you may ask, well it certainly isn't the one with John Cusack. An intriguing Corman take on the classic Poe poem, a horror comedy with his typical B-movie visuals and cheesy dialog. Of course this being a horror his style works... read more and adds huge amounts of ghoulish charm to the proceedings.

    The fifth film Corman adapted from Poe's classic works and probably one of the best (and more well known). The cast is of course the main factor here, Vincent Price who stars in all but one of Corman's adaptations. Peter Lorre who stars in one other Corman/Poe adaptation, Boris Karloff and of course Jack Nicholson.

    The plot is based around the Poe poem but of course is very very loose. Obviously most of it has been made up to fill out an entire film and frankly its pretty hokey and childish. Basically Price's character (a good sorcerer) is mourning the loss of his 'Lenore', a talking raven comes into his life which turns out to be Lorre who was turned into the raven by an evil sorcerer (Karloff). Lorre explains that he has seen Lenore at Karloff's castle so off they go to find her. Turns out Lenore faked her death and ran off to the evil 'Dr. Scarabus' (Karloff) to lure 'Dr. Erasmus Craven' (Price) to the castle so they can take his powers.

    The plot is thinner than a supermodels waistline and merely serves to offer up some Price vs Karloff sorcery towards the end. Nothing really happens throughout the entire film other than a lot of silly dialog and some rather poor attempts at comedy, its very dated. Nicholson plays the part of a young lad and son of Lorre's character, who also falls for 'Dr. Erasmus Craven's' daughter (she accompanies them all on their adventure to Karloff's castle). No real reason for him to be in this really, he does nothing other than serve up wooden deliveries.

    The visuals in the film are nice with that musky old haunted castle type atmosphere, plenty of old leather bound armchairs and dusty bookcases. Price fits the scene like a glove of course, Karloff seems a bit out of place being slightly too serious but he looks good, while Lorre's character is a real misery and quite unlikable, but its all about his voice isn't it. Some nice matte painting work on the outside castle shots, totally fake looking of course haha but I love that kinda stuff, nice cheesy storm too.

    Overall its rather lame really, yes I know its a cult classic with an ultra classic legendary cast but the film is pretty dull and uneventful. The highlight is easily the sorcery battle between Price and Karloff in the finale. A great fun and quite long continuous sequence with some nice ideas and nice effects too. The ending is very soft but what do you expect? this is soft core 1960's horror here, back in the day I'm sure it was deemed quite thrilling.

    I'm sure the hardcore fanboys of these silver screen stars will love this, I enjoyed it but must admit I was bored. The finale is cool but the rest is merely filler, still worth your time though purely for the cast.

    'Quoth the raven, Nevermore.'
  • June 16, 2012
    Corman left completely aside Poe's ghoulish tone to make this tongue-in-cheek "adaptation" of his most famous poem. For this reason, it is not efficient as a horror story but amusing as a light comedy, co-starring Price, Lorre and Karloff in hilarious performances.
  • April 27, 2012
    A movie that features Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and a young Jack Nicholson. Need I say more?
  • November 24, 2010
    This movie is kind of silly, and the special effects are goofy looking, but it's nice to see these great horror actors goofing around in a movie. It's an enjoyable movie, and I like it.
  • March 12, 2010
    Price, Lorre and Karloff, what a wonderful triad. Although it has little or almost nothing about Poe's story, Matheson's screenplay is conspicuos and charming. Pure camp fun.
  • January 14, 2010
    Price. Lorre. Karloff.

  • April 15, 2009
    Pulpy, flamboyant, outright parody, wonderfully entertaining, the culminating battle of wills escalates into an all-out magical war between the stars Boris Karloff and Vincent Price, with Peter Lorre and a young Jack Nicholson.
  • March 4, 2008
    Pretty amusing.
  • September 18, 2012
    Pretty goofy but you can't wrong with a movie starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Jack Nicholson.
  • June 21, 2012
    What a cast! It was a film not to be taken seriously, but worth it just to experience this gem of rated G terror. Also a great wizard's duel to rival that of Sword in the Stone and Willow.

Critic Reviews

Tim Brayton
October 24, 2011
Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Indisputably the odd duck among the AIP Poe movies, although it is also one of the very best. Full Review

Mark Bourne
April 5, 2006
Mark Bourne,

The Raven takes Poe's most famous poem and doesn't so much adapt it as dress it up in a clown nose and silly hat.... it's hard to shake the cognitive dissonance of Jack Nicholson posing like Burt Ward... Full Review

Dennis Schwartz
February 23, 2006
Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Anything to do with Poe other than hearing The Raven poem read aloud is non-existent. Full Review

Rob Vaux
August 29, 2005
Rob Vaux, Flipside Movie Emporium

Gimmicky drive-in fare, though nobody can deliver that poem like Price.

Ken Hanke
February 2, 2003
Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Amusing horror parody notable mostly for its stars.

Bob Bloom
August 15, 2002
Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

A classic AIP horror-comedy; Lorre is priceless; Price has tongue firmly in cheek. And a young Jack Nicholson to boot!

March 26, 2009

Click to read the article Full Review

Geoff Andrew
February 9, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Click to read the article Full Review

J. Hoberman
August 19, 2005
J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Click to read the article Full Review

Emanuel Levy
August 9, 2005
Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com

No review available.

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