User Reviews (87)

Add a Review

  • Karloff gets the top billing in this second feature pairing both horror stars, but it is Bela Lugosi all the way who steals each and every scene he is in. Lugosi is incredible in his over-the-top performance of a morbid, obsessed doctor and Poe aficionado. Each line he utters with flair and gusto, each movement an outrageous, maniacal gesture. He is truly a ham, and an enjoyable one at that. Karloff is quite good as a killer, and the only compassionate character in the story. He is disfigured by Lugosi, so he will kill for the mad doctor. One of the best scenes is Lugosi leaving his patient to see his handiwork. Karloff shoots through several mirrors after realizing the atrocities committed on him, and from a door in the roof of the room.....Lugosi peers through and laughs...laughs with coldness, cruelty, and hysteria. The rest of the film is devoted to Lugosi utilizing his Poe recreations of torture...and I must confess as an earlier reviewer noted that you really feel little sympathy for the other characters involved...and at one point I wanted the pendulum to win. You must see this film as it is the second best of the Karloff/Lugosi pairings...but it really is a Lugosi film.
  • 'The Raven' seems like it was trying to recreate the success (artistically) of Edward G. Ulmer's 'The Black Cat' released the previous year. Once again horror legends Karloff and Lugosi are teamed up in a movie supposedly inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. Of course it has nothing much to do with Poe apart from Lugosi reciting Poe's poem once or twice and having his own private version of 'The Pit And The Pendulum' in his basement. 'The Raven' isn't as inspired and as downright strange as 'The Black Cat' but it's still very good. Karloff receives top billing but this is Lugosi's movie all the way. He plays a brilliant surgeon and Poe buff who is talked into saving the life of a beautiful young girl (Irene Ware). He then becomes obsessed by her and when he can't get what he wants decides to punish her, her fiance (Lester Matthews) and her father (Samuel S. Hinds). Along the way he has turned criminal Karloff into a disfigured monster and forces him to help. Lugosi is really terrific as the mad surgeon and his performance will delight his fans. Recommended.
  • Bela Lugosi will always be remembered for Dracula -- but his biggest and wildest role was the Raven. He and Boris Karloff are co-stars but Bela steals the show as the mad surgeon, Dr. Vollin, who sees himself as a "god with the taint of human emotion." He has a Poe fetish and loves to torture as he has been tortured so he can clear his head and be, "the sanest man who ever lived."

    This has one of the most horrific scenes ever filmed. After Dr. Vollin has disfigured the criminal (Boris Karloff) the criminal awakes in a room of mirrors and must stare at his hideous face--while Vollin laughs hysterically!

    This is one of the few classic Universal horror films that actually gives genuine chills!
  • 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
  • This is the Boris & Bela show all the way. Like its sort-of companion piece "The Black Cat," THE RAVEN involves young lovers held captive by a madman with an odd hobby, in a large house which is elaborately tricked-out with amenities not usually found in even the most exclusive residences. This time out, Boris is the nominal "hero" (as with "The Black Cat," the male half of the young couple proves remarkably useless) and Bela the nut-case: Richard Vollin; doctor, Poe aficionado and do-it-yourself-er without peer. Summoned from retirement to perform life-saving surgery on Jean Thatcher, a lovely young dancer, he subsequently falls head-over-heels for her, and the trouble starts.

    Lugosi was a better actor than he usually gets credit for being; his downfall seemed to stem from a lack of selectivity about what projects he accepted, frequently landing him in dreck. THE RAVEN gives him ample opportunities to shine, and he makes the most of them. Some consider his work here over-the-top, but scenery-chewing is entirely appropriate to the character, who is written as an arrogant egomaniac - he refers to himself as "a law unto myself" and even "a god" - and probably the only out-and-out lunatic Lugosi ever played. The desires or welfare of others simply don't enter into the equation for Vollin. After repeated refusals to perform Jean's operation, only an appeal to his ego ("So, they DO say I am the only one!") can induce him; that the object of his affection makes no secret of her love for someone else is of no consequence to him, and for the one "nice" deed he does for someone else - making Jean's fiancé his research assistant - he flatters himself that he's being magnanimous, though his true motivation, keeping the young rival too busy to interfere with his pursuit of Jean, is nonetheless self-serving.

    The gloriously unrestrained nature of his performance notwithstanding, he gives us some of his best moments here: when he finds himself in Karloff's clutches, totally helpless and at Boris' mercy, the panic beneath his thin veneer of casual bravado is palpable. Likewise the barely-controlled fury and pain when, ostensibly speaking about Poe, he tells of the madness that grips "a man of genius denied of his great love," and how that madness can drive him to conceive of "torture....torture for those who have tortured him." His perverse glee in inflicting that torture is chilling, and he even displays some unexpectedly dry wit. When Vollin demands of Jean's father, Judge Thatcher, "There are no two ways; send her to me," the Judge gasps an incredulous "Do you know what you're saying?" Lugosi, in a deliberate monotone, answers the question literally; repeating, "There - are - no - two - ways - send - her - to - me!"

    If I've put the emphasis here on Lugosi, it's because he truly dominates all around him, including Karloff. That's no reflection on Boris; he just plays a mostly passive character: Edmond Bateman, bank robber and escaped con, who seeks Vollin out for an operation to make him "look different." Given the shady-looking hood who passes Vollin's name and address to Bateman, and the seedy surroundings in which the meeting takes place, one can't help but wonder at Vollin's social contacts, and the kind of services he's previously solicited (or performed). The unfortunate Bateman soon finds himself in over his head, the victim of Vollin's particularly sadistic blackmail.

    As with Frankenstein's creation, Boris suffuses Bateman with pathos. "I don't want to do them things no more," he pleads, when Lugosi sets out to enlist his help for some dastardly deeds. Because of his predicament, we can feel sympathy for Bateman, even as he does more of "them things" at Vollin's behest. Under heavy and restricting makeup, as was often the case, Boris is able to communicate a great deal with his eyes (or, in this case, eye). Watch the excitement in them (it?) as Lugosi removes the post-op bandages; your heart fairly breaks because you know the shock that's in store for him.

    The supporting cast is filled out with familiar and capable players such as Inez Courtney and Ian Wolfe (who has one of the film's best lines when, as Bela goes on his torture rampage, protests with an oh-so-civilized, "See here, Vollin, things like this can't be done!").

    The ever-dependable and versatile Samuel S. Hinds provides us with one of his delightfully stodgy curmudgeons as Judge Thatcher, and he deserves a special nod on general principle. Hinds was one of those "oh, I've seen him a hundred times before" actors (whose face is probably known by far more people than his name) who, during the '30's and '40's, seemed to pop up in every third film released. His persona varied little (and he seemed doomed to rarely being cast as anything besides judge, doctor or lawyer), but he was able to bend it in whatever direction a role required, enabling him to move with ease from the tight-ass Thatcher to Slade, the corrupt, tobacco-spittin' judge in "Destry Rides Again," to the sage and kindly family physician in "The Boy With Green Hair." Too bad he never did a "Huck Finn;" he'd have been great as The King.

    Despite the improbability (oh, all right; absurdity) of the plot, the script provides some wonderful dialogue. Hinds has the great good fortune of uttering the catchy phrase, "stark-staring mad" on more than one occasion. But the delivery of even the pithiest exchanges, such as "'You monster, you like to torture.' 'Yes, I like to torture.'" gives them a vitality far beyond what is on the page. When all is said and done, though, THE RAVEN is, above all, B & B's show. Each is at the top of his game, and together, they own it.
  • BELA LUGOSI never had a role that made better use of his stylized ham emoting than his mad surgeon here. The camera holds him in close-ups that emphasize the penetrating gaze and knitted eyebrows as he obsesses about an attractive woman he wishes to marry.

    He steals every scene he's in with his heavy emphasis on certain words and his inflection that has menace in every syllable. By comparison, Boris Karloff (top-billed) has a cameo role that he plays with his usual skill, managing to get some sympathy for a basically unsympathetic character--a man who served time as a killer. Between the two of them, they create a minor thriller that is the kind of horror film Universal was famous for in the '30s.

    Lugosi being a man obsessed by Edgar Allen Poe's torture devices in stories like 'The Pit and the Pendulum', approaches every scene with relish, obviously delighted with his role as a surgeon who declares: "I love torture!" The plot, of course, is outrageously preposterous but just try to turn away as he puts into place his plan for the girl, her father and her fiance--as well as his servant Karloff.

    None of it is believable, but it's all great fun in the tradition of Universal thrillers. Perfect for Halloween!!
  • This solid little horror feature offers Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff together again, plus an interesting (if completely implausible) story. There are a fair number of Edgar Allan Poe references, but no real connections - none of the material bears any real resemblance to Poe, and the references are meant to be atmospheric at the most.

    Lugosi's role in this one is much larger than Karloff's, and Bela carries most of the story. His theatrical style is quite appropriate in the role of Dr. Vollin, making for an entertaining yet genuinely dangerous foe. When Lugosi is in good form, he can make the most ridiculous dialogue come out right. Both the story and dialogue here would indeed collapse under the most basic logical analysis, and Lugosi's showmanship is one of the reasons why much of it works anyway.

    While Karloff has a smaller role, he also does a good job, and indeed the movie would not have worked very well without Karloff's efforts in making Bateman pathetic and unheroic, yet human and understandable. The rest of the cast have fewer opportunities, yet the roles are filled by good character players who all do their jobs well.

    The consensus, namely that "The Raven" is a cut below the previous year's Boris/Bela collaboration "The Black Cat", seems accurate. Yet "The Raven" in itself is a solid and usually entertaining feature.
  • Dr. Vollin (Lugosi) who's a Neurosurgeon with a large interest in Poe inspired torture comes out of retirement for a wealthy judge to save his daughter that was seriously injured in a auto wreck. During the recovery state the doctor falls for the girl and wants to marry her. Though, the doctor has a plan to torture his guests and with help from an unwillingly on the run murderer Bateman (Karloff) who's face was disfigured by the doctor when he wanted his face changed. So now he must do his biding or the doctor won't restore his face.

    "The Raven" is a pretty good BW horror film that truly delivers the goods even though it's not particularly grand or inventive. It holds a fairly entertaining if rather routine narrative of clichés (stormy night in strange house). Though, you can't go wrong with a stormy night in a horror film. Saying that, it's the evoking presence of Karloff and Lugosi when on screen that makes it a great spectacle as there performances overshadow the rather foreseeable material or plot. For a mostly talkative film it doesn't have a sluggish feel and it moves at a rather brisk pace.

    It had a ludicrous plot with some far-fetched scenario's (A quick recovery after surgery) and unintentionally humorous moments. After a real talkative first half about these amusing Poe torture designs we get to see them finally in use. It's too bad he used them towards the end, as not much torturing did happen, but mostly talk of these devices. Though, when it did happen there was a lot of imagination and interesting ideas. This is when the sudden thrills pick up in the last 20-mintues and it suddenly gets quite claustrophobic further along the film goes. In which Dr. Vollin really tightens the screws in some energetic and upbeat scenes. These scenes aren't terribly suspenseful, but the confrontations between Bateman and Vollin are vibrantly compelling and the devices achieve such a horrific mood. The climax is rather grand too. The ending was rather sudden and you can say lame for my liking. Dialogue was a mix bad with some engaging dialogue from the leads coming across as poetic and other times it was rather stilted or just plain corny.

    A rather enforcing and roaring music score surrounds and captures the terror superbly. The film is well shot and is very atmospheric indeed. There is such great use of shadow and lighting composition in the mansion and a superb layout of the dungeon with its torture devices. The storm helps the atmosphere to be effective too. Karloff's character with the disfiguring is treated with decent make-up effects and it really does keep you glued at staring at it.

    Rather mundane performances from the cast except for the two strong central leads and maybe with the exception of Samuel S. Hinds as Judge Thatcher. It's definitely one of Lugosi's best performances as the sadistic Dr. Vollin. Lugosi gives us his usual evil grimaces and at times goes over-the-top in delivering the dialogue. While Borris Karloff gives a solid performance, but I wouldn't class it as one of his greatest. He shines as the demented criminal Edmond Bateman who's lurking around the house with great effect.

    For me it was a competent shocker that holds some unforgettable scenes and performances.
  • There are many reasons to see The Raven, namely Edgar Allan Poe, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. And it delivers on all the potential it promised, with only its, to me, too short length being any kind of a problem. The production values are striking with a nice Gothic atmosphere, while the score has a haunting sense of dread to it without making things too obvious. The way The Raven is written is remarkable, there are many Poe references that anybody will enjoy and Poe's poetic prose is captured perfectly in an affecting way. The atmosphere will send the hairs on your neck raising, and the film's horror elements are unusually sadistic. The acting doesn't undermine anything either, the supporting cast are solid, with Samuel H Hinds coming off best, but none really are in the same league as the two stars, both of whom are among the giants of the horror genre. Boris Karloff is both creepy and compassionate in his role as the scarred criminal, but it is Bela Lugosi's chillingly twisted performance that carries The Raven.

    All in all, apart from the length, The Raven is a great film and well worth checking out. 9/10 Bethany Cox
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Because this is really Lugosi's film.

    Lugosi plays a surgeon named Dr. Vollin, who falls in love with a dancer whose life he saved. Which would normally be fine, except that the dancer is engaged to someone else and the Doctor is crazier than bat guano. His other hobbies include Edgar Allen Poe and building torture devices in his basement, so you can really see where this is going.

    Not surprisingly, when he doesn't get his way on the girl, he decides the best solution is to invite everyone over to his house for a night of murder and torture.

    Karloff has kind of a minor role as a criminal who becomes the unwitting dupe of Lugosi's mad doctor. It was really interesting because at this point in their careers, Karloff was the bigger star (hence, why he got top billing.) Karloff would state later that Lugosi boxed himself in by never learning to speak English proficiently, and that was probably true to a degree, but this film along with the Black Cat showed he had some range as an actor.
  • bkoganbing14 March 2012
    The Raven casts Bela Lugosi as a doctor who has retired into research into the medical field and into the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Bela has painstakingly recreated the torture devices that Poe had written about in his stories and has decided it's time for some live experimentation.

    What has brought that about was Judge Samuel S. Hinds who has begged and persuaded Bela Lugosi to come out of research and do a delicate bit of neurosurgery to save daughter Irene Ware's life. Not only does he save her life, but she's back and better than ever at her modern dance gig.

    Irene Ware was a beautiful girl, in real life a beauty contest winner. No wonder Dr. Lugosi starts confusing her with the famous Lenore in Poe's The Raven. But she doesn't want anything to do with him. Never mind that, Lugosi invites several people over including Hinds and Ware and he's going to settle accounts with all of them Edgar Allan Poe style.

    To help him Lugosi has Boris Karloff who is a criminal on the run who has been made truly hideous by some of Bela's surgery. Bela keeps Boris on a short lease saying he'll fix him if he'll aid and abet his mad scheme.

    The Raven is strictly an actor's vehicle and if it weren't for the presence of those masters of Gothic horror Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in the cast, this film would not fly. But with them leading the cast The Raven moves up a few notches in ratings. The two of them work hard to sell this film and they succeed admirably.

    Bela and Boris, Forevermore.
  • While I had watched them in The Body Snatcher years back, this is the first time I've seen Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff together as equals in one of their Universal features. In this one, Lugosi plays Dr. Richard Vollin who gets called out of retirement by one Judge Thatcher (Samuel S. Hinds) to heal his daughter Jean (Irene Ware) from a car accident. He does and instantly becomes smitten with her which becomes obvious to her father when he looks at them together. When Vollin admits to it, the judge forbids him from seeing her again especially since she's engaged to Dr. Jerry Halden (Lester Matthews). That doesn't sit well with the doctor who cured her so when escaped convict Edmond Bateman (Karloff) drops in, Vollin offers a quid-pro-quo...This was quite thrilling from beginning to end especially with all the references to many Edgar Allan Poe works and contraptions especially the one depicted in "The Pit and the Pendulum". Director Louis Friedlander really puts the stops that truly had me riveted the whole way through. And the score is just what one would expect from these melodramatic old school horror movies of this period. As old-fashioned as this movie may seem to some modern viewers, to me this was still an edge-of-your-seat thriller that holds up today. So on that note, I very highly recommend this version of The Raven.
  • "The Raven" of 1935 is arguably the second to greatest pairing of Horror icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (the most memorable being "The Black Cat" of 1934). While both men are doubtlessly immortal deities of Horror cinema that most true Horror lovers would name as personal favorites, "The Raven" is primarily a Lugosi film. Karloff is also brilliant (as always) in his role, but his role in this film is not as significant as that of Lugosi, who dominates the screen with genius and insanity throughout the film. Comparable only to "White Zombie" of 1932 (still my choice for the greatest Lugosi film) and "Dracula" of 1931, this film proves what a unique screen presence Lugosi had. The great Bela plays Dr. Richard Vollin, an ingenious and eccentric doctor who is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. When a wealthy judge sees no other way to save his daughter (Irene Ware), a beautiful young dancer, he approaches Vollin for help, unaware that Poe is not the only obsession of the brilliant physician...

    Bela Lugosi owns the film from the first second of his appearance. Lugosi's Dr. Vollin is, simply put, one of the most ingenious portrayals of diabolical insanity ever given, and that makes the film an absolute must-see for every Horror fan. Karloff is an additional reason to see this film, and even though his role could have been a bit bigger, he is masterly in the role of the sidekick. The rest of the performances are good as well, but, of course, they pale beside the greatness of the film's two stars. The cinematography is another great aspect about "The Raven". The film, which comes along with a brilliantly eerie classical score, is shot in a wonderfully eerie tone, which accentuates the film's genuine creepiness and brilliantly insane atmosphere. The most memorable aspect, however, remains the brilliant performance of Bela Lugosi. Roles like this one make Lugosi and immortal icon of cinema, and "The Raven" a must-see for every lover of film. Highly recommended!
  • Followers of horror melodrama will get a full evening's entertainment out of THE RAVEN... it has some hair-raising situations.. All that has been left of the famous...Poe poem is the title. A statuette of a raven, which Lugosi kept on his desk was the excuse for the use of the title. A situation that will give shudders is when Lugosi removes bandages from Karloff's face, which he had disfigured horribly. Director Friedlander has kept the pace at a nice pitch, stripping it down to its fundamentals and letting the shock troupers, Karloff and Lugosi do their worst. Universal's high batting average for year 1935 with the shockers, only this one looks the least costly of 'em, without any obvious cheating. However, this film is a classic and worth viewing if you are lovers of Lugosi and Karloff...
  • Nice horror film suggested by Poe's immortal stories , thanks mainly to fortuitous teaming of terror kings as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi . A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her . But while this lunatic surgical genius chanted "The Raven," horrible screams rose up from his torture chamber below . The gloomy surgeon (Bela Lugosi) has a dungeon full of torture gadgets inspired by Edgar Allen Poe stories , then he is begged by a judge (Samuel Hinds) to save his daughter's life . The eccentric neurological surgeon does and then falls in love for the beautiful girl (Irene Ware) but she's already engaged . The nutty doctor recruits a wanted criminal (Boris Karloff), and turns him into a hideous monster . Meanwhile , the dull doctor invites a group of guests (Lester Matthews , Charters, Courtney , and eternal secondary Ian Wolfe) at his dismal mansion

    The script has very little to do with Edgar Allen Poes's tales , though the screen-writers do manage to squeeze in his pendulum torture from : The pit and the pendulum and Poe's Raven . This is a quickie professionally realized by Lew Landers , an expert in rapid pictures that rarely ran longer than 70 minutes ; although here he stands out and it is among his most forceful and fastest works. Lew Landers began directing features in the mid-'30s under his real name of Louis Friedlander, but changed it to Lew Landers after several films , his first effort, The Raven , was probably his best. The movie belongs to a group of a few of the bargain-basement horrors that Lew Landers directed for Universal Pictures , including production designer Albert D'Agostino , all of them in low-budget , starred by terror stars and have a certain hypnotic fascination such as ¨Return of the vampire¨ , ¨The ghost that walks alone¨ ,¨The mask of Diijon¨ and of course this ¨The raven¨. Bela Lugosi is at his prime in this character as a mad doctor who when is rejected he plans vendetta in his chamber of horror and good acting by terror master Karloff as a criminal who winds up ruining the mad doctor's schemes . Several inconsistencies in the somewhat twisted screenplay can be overlooked because of their chilling acting by the classic horror duo , Lugosi and Karloff .

    The motion picture was well directed by Lew Landers , rivaling Sam Newfield and William Beaudine as one of the American film industry's most prolific directors, The Raven was his first feature made under his real name . Landers galloped his way around 130 movies , called quickfire and almost none of them exceeding 80 minutes , they have nearly all vanished into the mists of time now . It would be nice to record that Lew's output as one of the most prolific filmmakers in the field is studded with undiscovered treasures . Lew Landers got into filming serials with Universal , the first of them ¨Tailspin Tommy¨ and ¨Parole¨ , then the studio moved him on to features and he began his long career . Landers spent a lot of time at RKO and Columbia turning out low-budget adventure epics, thrillers and westerns . Towards the final of his shooting days , Landers became involved with all types of frivolities in a variety of strange color process as SuperCinecolor , filming several adventure films such as ¨Last of the Bucaneers , Blue blood , Captain Kidd and the slave girl , Captain John Smith and Pochahontas¨ and his most important ¨California conquest¨ . In the 1950s he turned to series television, as many of his fellow B directors did, and alternated between that and features for the remainder of his career , for that reason Landers was extremely busy in TV episodes until his early death at 60 years old .
  • utgard1420 February 2014
    Third and final movie in the trilogy of Edgar Allan Poe-themed horror films Bela Lugosi did for Universal in the 1930s. Also the second movie in which Lugosi and Karloff appear together. Lugosi plays a Poe-obsessed surgeon named Dr. Vollin, who is begged by a judge (Samuel S. Hinds) to save the life of the judge's daughter (Irene Ware), a dancer who suffered brain damage in a car accident. Vollin agrees and manages to perform the surgery successfully. Then he becomes fixated with the girl but her father steps in and tells him that's not going to happen. Vollin crafts a vicious revenge plan on the father, daughter, and her fiancé (Lester Matthews). To this end he forces wanted criminal Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff) to help him, by disfiguring his face and refusing to fix it unless he assists in helping Vollin torture his victims!

    Tour-de-force performance from Bela Lugosi in this one. A rare case of Lugosi outperforming Karloff. Lugosi's wild, over-the-top Dr. Vollin is so much fun to watch. Karloff is good, too, but Lugosi's part is much juicier. He's just off-the-rails here, laughing like a lunatic over the thought of torturing people! The highlight in all of the insanity is seeing Lugosi shout "Poe, you are avenged!" What exactly Poe is avenged of, I'm not sure, but I was loving every minute of it! I actually found myself rooting for this madman to win. That's how good Lugosi is in this. The rest of the cast is fine, with no one hitting a false note. But it's really a one-man show. Boris does good with what screen time he has, his face partially obscured by first a beard then some Jack Pierce makeup to show his disfigurement. He lets out a Frankenstein grunt at one point that I found amusing.

    If you're a Lugosi fan, this is for you. He's clearly having a great time with the role, especially the parts where he gets to taunt Karloff. You just know Bela loved that. For everybody else, don't go into this expecting something like The Black Cat. That film was more artistic. This is just sheer popcorn fun with one of the greatest personalities in horror films showing off in grand style.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the regrettably few horror films centred around the 'double act' of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

    Lugosi gets the main role on this occasion, playing Doctor Vollin, a brilliant surgeon. He has little interest in his work, however, as we quickly learn early on in the film when he is called on to save the life of a woman seriously injured in a car crash. Vollin, it seems, would rather stay at home and discuss his one true passion, nay obsession: the dark world of Edgar Allan Poe.

    Ultimately Vollin is talked around and does indeed perform life-saving surgery on the girl, the beautiful dancer Jean Thatcher. Vollin finds himself attracted to her and keeps in touch. As a 'thank you' to him Jean bases her next stage performance around Edgar Allan Poe's work "The Raven". At this point, Vollin's attraction for her reaches the point of total infatuation. Unfortunately Jean is already engaged to another, Jerry Halden, and her father is also wary of Vollin's fascination and warns him off.

    Enter Karloff as on-the-run robber/killer Edmond Bateman. Bateman wants to turn his back on crime but needs a new face so that he will not have to spend the remainder of his life in hiding. He asks Vollin if he can perform facial surgery but Vollin tricks him and gives him a hideous new look. Blackmailing Bateman by promising to restore his looks if he agrees to help him, Vollin now has the means to carry out his macabre plan of revenge upon Jean Thatcher and those around her...

    Lugosi is given plenty to get his teeth into in this entertaining film and carries the proceedings very well with a convincing portrayal of a man gradually losing touch more and more with reality and sanity, giving in to his most sordid fantasies. As the tragic Bateman, Karloff is more low key and has considerably less dialogue but still puts in a good performance through his body language and use of his eyes, skills he had already put to good use more famously in "Frankenstein".

    The rest of the cast are functionary, performing their roles quite adequately but not memorably. As always with films from this cycle of horrors from the Universal studios, excellent use is made of lighting, and there are some fine sets on display. It all holds up fairly well today, and is a well-paced entertaining yarn, let down only by occasionally flat dialogue, some humorous characters added inappropriately to the mix and, worst of all, a plot 'twist' at the climax that is so blatantly signposted well in advance that the gradual build up of tension in the latter third of the film is greatly diluted and Bateman's ultimate change of allegiance comes as no surprise at all.

    Overall The Raven is above average but with a few too many weaknesses to be deemed a classic.
  • This is a film that has no real relation to the Poe story but the film is inspired by it. The main character in the film is obsessed by Poe and has built torture devices in his home. The film starts out with a young pretty socialite named Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) who is involved in a car crash and the doctors at the hospital are not sure what to do so Jeans father (Samuel Hinds) who is a prominent judge calls a retired doctor named Richard Vollin (Bela Lugosi) and begs him to help. At first Vollin says no, but Judge Thatcher tells him that the other doctors all admitted he was the best and Vollin reconsiders. He saves her and while she is on the mend Vollin falls in love with her. But Jean is engaged to another doctor named Jerry Halden (Lester Matthews) and Judge Thatcher notices Vollin's attraction to his daughter. One day Judge Thatcher stops in at Vollin's and has a heart to heart talk. He tells him to forget his affection for Jean and this enrages Vollin! Meanwhile, an escaped criminal named Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff) comes over and begs for Vollin to give him plastic surgery and Vollin agrees only if Bateman will do some dirty work for him. Vollin conducts surgery on him and when its over Bateman is horribly disfigured. Vollin tells him he will fix his face later if he helps him. Vollin invites Jean, Jerry, Judge Thatcher and some others over to his home for a weekend of fun and games but he really has other things in store for them! This is a horror film classic that reteams two of the all time greats. The title of this film is not about the Poe story, but many references are made to him and Lugosi's character is a Poe fanatic who often recites lines from the poem. After Karloff wakes up and see's his new face and shoots all the mirrors with his gun he gives his Frankenstein growl. I'm not sure if its Karloffs voice or the studio dubbing it in. I'm assuming its Karloff. Lugosi plays a real nut here and its so much fun to see him using all of his devices like the pendulum and the room where the walls start closing in. I found it interesting that some of the characters in this film treated Karloff so badly because he was ugly and disfigured. It seems cruel but it plays well because Jean later would apologize and acts kind to him which will ultimately be an important factor in their survival. Matthews was not the most masculine guy and in one scene he is knocked cold by Karloff with one punch. In a supporting role Ian Wolfe plays Colonel Bertram Grant and in the hospital scene Jonathan Hale is a doctor. Hale played Mr. Dithers in the "Blondie" films. Great film to watch and Lugosi once again shows us those piercing eyes that can hypnotize you. He had such tremendous screen presence and he steals every scene in the film. Even the ones with Karloff! Great fun, great atmosphere and a must see for all! Horror film fans already know what a classic this is.
  • Obsessed by THE RAVEN and other works of Edgar Allan Poe, a deranged doctor forces a disfigured killer into carrying out his nefarious schemes.

    Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi team up again in another Universal shocker. Although Karloff gets top billing, this is Bela's film, giving him the chance to pull out all the stops menacing the fair maiden, while threatening death & dismemberment to her father, fiancé and friends with invitations to visit his basement torture chamber.

    As a contrast, Karloff wisely underplays his role, letting the despair of the doomed eloquently play across his ravaged features. The Boys' best scene together comes when Karloff gets his first horrified look at his new face, savagely shooting the mirrors in the doctor's operating chamber, while Lugosi, watching through a grill in the ceiling, laughs maniacally.

    Good support is offered from Samuel S. Hinds as a sturdy judge; Irene Ware as his lovely daughter (her interpretive dance based on The Raven is most intriguing); and Ian Wolfe & Spencer Charters as Lugosi's house guests.

    Although obviously made rather cheaply, it is still good to see Karloff & Lugosi in a film in which style and imagination are allowed to help create the appropriate mood.
  • MORD39 RATING: *** out of ****

    I have always loved this strange little film, even as a kid. Bela Lugosi has one of his greatest roles as the insane Dr. Vollin, a part which ranks right up there with Dracula and Ygor. It's also one of those rare times where he actually upstages Boris Karloff.

    At only 60 or so minutes, the 1935 version of THE RAVEN is brisk entertainment with all the golden elements of a fine horror movie: a crazed doctor, his misshapen assistant (Karloff), secret rooms and lots of thunder and lightning. There are trap doors, a creepy dungeon, and a torture chamber. This film doesn't pretend to be profound or a literary rendition of Poe's works... it's just Bela and Boris - the two greatest horror stars of all time - doing what they do best.

    The comedy in the film is rare, and doesn't detract from it. The main issue at hand is Dr. Vollin's jealous need for revenge to satisfy his own tortured soul...by inflicting horror on those he feels have caused his misery. The moment where Bela blackmails Karloff and cackles maniacally has no equal.

    A perfect companion to THE BLACK CAT, it's not cinematically as good, but I have always had much more fun with it. Highly recommended for fans of "classic" horror!
  • This was the first feature length version of this story, based on a poem by Edgar Allen Poe.

    A young woman has her life saved by a mad doctor who has an obsession for Edgar Allen Poe. He falls in love with her and invites her, her dad and her lover along with some other people to stay at his home for a weekend and would turn out to be the weekend from hell. They arrive and the doctor's servant is an escaped prisoner who wanted a new face but instead, the doctor turned him into a mutant. He would have his new face when his work was completed for the doctor. What these visitors don't know is that the doctor intends to use them, especially the woman and her dad for torture and the first victim, the dad is taken to the torture chamber in the basement and he is strapped down and a pendulum gradually moves on to him but he is rescued at the end. The woman and her lover are put in a room where the walls close in but the mutant turns the power off and they escape and the doctor is put in that room and crushed to death just as the police arrive.

    The Raven has a lot of the things you would expect in this sort of movie: hidden doorways, secret passages and a thunderstorm.

    Now to the cast: Excellent performances from Bela Lugosi as the doctor and Boris Karloff as the prisoner turned mutant. I'm not too familiar with the rest of the cast.

    This movie is a must for all horror fans, especially if you like Boris and Bela. Excellent.

    Rating: 4 stars out of five.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The reason this is so effective. In one of his finest roles as the mad Doctor Richard Vollin, the icon steals every moment of the show. Black Hearted, obsessed, demanding; Bela opens the flood gates and out comes a very memorable character that fully succeeds with a sickness. A key scene where he really displays the skills with Vollin is when Judge Thatcher tells him he musn't see his daughter ever again, and the mad Doc's eyes wince sharply together while he starts demanding to the Judge to bring him Joan.

    Unfortunately, Karloff shows up twenty minutes into the story, which is a considerably long wait when the film just an hour. As the murderous Bateman, he's not given a whole lot of character, other than he's violent, angry and probably just as mad as Vollin. After his operation, he's turned into a wretched, two-faced freak. More uglier than ever before. This brings on one of the most involving moments for the two horror legends. After seeing his appearance through several mirrors, he jolts into a spastic rage, and all the mirrors are shattered from his gun a-blazin'. Boris still does a fine job with the more or less supporting role, but a little more would've been nice.

    The movie spends so much time focusing on Bela and letting him work the magic, that everybody else is pretty lacking during many scenes. Even Irene Ware as Joan is pretty transparent, and so much more is expected from the character of the woman Vollin is obsessed with. Other than having the rage for Poe (though, not nearly on the level of the Doctor), her ability to dance and her hidden devotion towards the Doc, not much else is given about her. The segments with her and Dr. Jerry Holdon (Lester Matthews), her fiancé, are wasted by no real display of affection. The dialog seems false and forced, aside from a scant few genuine moments of Matthews making it believable. Samuel S Hinds as Joans' Father gives the secondary role all it needs. He's protective, doesn't trust Vollin for a second and never backs down from him. In character, Hinds shows more concern for his daughter's safety than her own husband. Disappointing.

    The settings and environments are brilliant, especially Vollin's mansion of trap doors, secret rooms behind bookcases, rooms where the walls come together and some that descend into a lair where Doc keeps all kinds of demented torture devices; most importantly the massive swaying blade that slowly lowers itself down into a hapless victim from The Pit and the Pendulum. Several good scenes of eye candy here.

    Not really as effective as The Black Cat, IMO. Karloff and Lugosi didn't have the chemistry, Lugosi was his own chemistry. The Raven sometimes just seems like it's living in the shadow of the Black Cat. Both movies are merely just respects to the Poe stories, and stray from following in their footsteps; though, The Raven definitely gives more nods. Not perfect, but it's still a very entertaining Uni/Bela/Boris outing.
  • When originally released it was described as hideous, guilty of gore and down right vulgar with its presentation of torture. This is a full fledged classic horror flick. The torturous intent still makes this movie scary. And I absolutely love the obligatory thunder and lightning storm. It makes for a true creepy atmosphere. Two major stars that had a legendary loathing of each other; all the part of right ingredients for pleasurable schlock shock.

    Bela Lugosi is Dr. Richard Vollin, who is a notable plastic surgeon that is obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe and loves building torture devices. Boris Karloff plays a criminal that comes to Dr. Vollin for a change of appearance. Vollin disfigures him in order to blackmail him into helping torture another doctor.

    This is arguably Lugosi's greatest performance. He steals the movie from Karloff, who always seems to get top billing and the higher salary. Also in the cast are Irene Ware, Samuel S. Hinds and Lester Matthews. Hot buttered popcorn and a big mug of cocoa will ease the chills.
  • There are weaknesses in THE RAVEN. Introduction is somewhat slow; Lugosi's delivery of Edgar A. Poe's poem, The Raven, is hindered by his Hungarian accent; photography has ups and downs, suffering from poor focus in parts; Karloff's makeup, especially the dead eye, is unconvincing; and the female lead and her love interest come across as rather limited actors.

    And, yet, despite those unquestionable weaknesses, the film is atmospheric and boasts a pace that holds your interest, especially from the moment the infamous Dr Vollin (Lugosi) starts exacting torture on his hostages in his house of horrors. The scenes of the pendulum with a sharp edge hanging over the judge (the female lead's father) clearly inspired THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), with Vincent Price - but Lugosi's pervasive and suave evil in THE RAVEN is far more memorable. Ultimately, it is Lugosi who carries this film with his accent-tilted, insane eyes, and consistently exacerbated, but stylish, delivery.

    Director Friedlander also deserves plaudits, in spite of the above mentioned flaws.
  • lugonian19 October 2001
    "The Raven" (Universal, 1935), directed by Louis Friedlander (later Lew Landers), became the second official KARLOFF and LUGOSI teaming, and a worthy following at that. Although this production is a notch below their initial thriller, "The Black Cat" (Universal, 1934), in which both movies are suggested on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, none actually have story lines from either Poe's stories or poems. While Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were evenly matched in "The Black Cat," Lugosi dominates the story in "The Raven," and he is in rare form here.

    Like a "B" movie, for which is what this neat little thriller is, it gets right down to business and seldom slows down in its tight 60 minutes. Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) has an auto accident that sends her to the hospital. Only one doctor can operate on her and save her life. His name is Doctor Richard Vollin (Bela Lugosi), a plastic surgeon and skilled surgeon, now retired. Judge Thatcher (Samuel S. Hinds), Jean's father, locates Vollin and pleads for his daughter's life. He agrees and performs a successful operation. Jean, a dancer by profession, learns that Vollin is a great admirer of Edgar Allan Poe, and to reward this great doctor, she arranges to have him attend her theatrical comeback in which she performs a dance to the narration of Poe's THE RAVEN, much to Vollin's delight. Vollin admits his love for Jean, but informs him that although she is grateful to him for her life, she is engaged to marry Jerry Halden (Lester Matthews). Even Judge Thatcher notices Vollin to not be in his right mind, and decides to pay him a visit to his home to advise him to stay away from Jean, and leaves. But Vollin doesn't take warnings too lightly. Quite conveniently, that very night, Edmond Bateman (KARLOFF), a bearded murderer who has recently escaped prison, pays Vollin a visit in hope that the famous plastic surgeon could perform an operation to change his face. Vollin at first refuses until Bateman tells him something quite profound: "Ever since I was born, everybody looks at me and says, 'You're ugly.' Makes me feel mean ... Maybe if a man looks ugly, he does ugly things." These words convince the doctor to go on with the operation and walking him through a secret panel that leads him to an operating room downstairs. Following the surgery, Bateman is changed into a hideous creature, and in order for him to have his face restored, Bateman finds he must do Vollin's evil bidding by becoming his servant, or better known as his "live-in slave." (One scene finds Bateman getting hit with Vollin's little whip when Vollin feels his orders are being disobeyed). Vollin then arranges to have Jean, Jerry, Judge Thatcher and some other guests to spend the weekend in his home, unaware that they are to become victims of his torture devices in his chambers, all inspired by Poe. Because Vollin cannot have Jean as his wife, he has Bateman place her and Jerry in a room, closing the door where the couple are standing in the center as the walls are slowly closing in on them. Then the suspense really builds up to a nail biting conclusion.

    "The Raven," may not be first-rate horror to some viewers, but it does offer Bela Lugosi's finest hour on film, a hammy performance to say the least. Possibly under the direction of either Tod Browning or James Whale, the premise would have been the same but their styles of strangeness and/or humor would have been more evident, giving the movie a different feel. In spite of his top-billing with surname only, KARLOFF's character arrives some 15 minutes from the start of the story. Although he, too, plays a villain, he becomes very much a victim as do Vollin's "house guests." One particular memorable moment occurs after the operation in which Bateman's bandages are removed from his face by Vollin. The mad doctor then leaves Bateman in the operating room alone. Vollin, in the room above, opens the curtains that had covered a series of full-length mirrors set into the wall. Bateman, to his horror, seeing the final results of his face, rushes from mirror to mirror. Furious, he takes out his gun and shoots each mirror one at a time as Vollin looks on and laughs sadistically. By the time the gun is aimed at Vollin, the gun is empty, leaving Bateman to shake his fist and make a growling sound like Karloff's Frankenstein's Monster from "Frankenstein" (1931).

    In the supporting cast are Inez Courtney, Spencer Charters, Maidel Turner and Ian Wolfe as the other weekend guests of Vollin's home, adding some "comedy relief," with Arthur Hoyt as Mr. Chapman; Walter Miller as Vollin's butler; and Jonathan Hale briefly seen as the medical doctor in the hospital scenes.

    "The Raven" is sure to delight horror fans, especially those who really don't take this type of horror stuff seriously and sit back and enjoy watching Karloff and Lugosi, two horror movie greats from the golden age of Hollywood. Once presented on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s, and on American Movie Classics (1991 to 2001), it premiered on Turner Classic Movies May 18, 2003. "The Raven" is available on video cassette in two formats: One as a double featured package along with "The Black Cat," the other as a single. Both "The Black Cat" and "The Raven" include the same underscoring during its closing casting credits. (***, never more)
An error has occured. Please try again.