20 September 2014

The Raven (1935)
61 min.
Directed by Lew Landers.
With Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Irene Ware, Lester Matthews, Samuel S. Hinds, Ian Wolfe.
Bela Lugosi is deliciously evil in this well paced '30s horror gem.

After a car accident puts lovely dancer Jean Thatcher (Ware) in critical condition, renowned surgeon Dr. Richard Vollin (Lugosi) agrees to save her life - and he succeeds.

But when it appears Vollin and Jean may be falling in love, the latter's father (Hinds) puts an abrupt end to the budding romance.

Heartbroken and emotionally crushed, the eccentric Vollin spirals into total madness.

He mutilates poor criminal Bateman (Karloff) and enlists him as helpless assistant.

Then he invites the Thatchers and their friends to his home for an entertainment-filled weekend.

Little do they know Vollin's idea of fun is subjecting his guests to a varied collection of Edgar Allan Poe-inspired torture devices...including a razor-sharp pendulum and a collapsible room. Party!

Short and sweet - but lean and mean - The Raven eschews the smooth stylings of Black Cat (1934) in favor of a down 'n dirty approach throughout, as well as an enjoyable madcap ending.

Karloff is a bit underused (although the scene with the wall of mirrors is sheer perfection).

But really it's all about Lugosi here, and his Vollin never disappoints. His grinning, cackling mad doctor remains the horror genre's archetype of revenge and pathos.

copyright 1998-present | The Terror Trap; www.terrortrap.com | all rights reserved