Saturday, February 12, 2011

THE RAVEN - Les Baxter - "Nevermore" (1963)

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door"- Edgar Allen Poe (Not Kanye West or 50 Cent!)

Actually more sinful than shocking, "THE RAVEN" was another film that was on our impossible to find list until I recently discovered that it at least could be found streaming on Netflix! As far as I have been able to discern, it is still not available on DVD, welcome to the future! "The Raven" has one of the classiest casts of actors ever assembled, and is a whole lot of fun to watch, so, without further delay, let's get this barrel of drunk monkeys rolling!

Just to get started, here's "The Last Man On Earth" Vincent Price again as the sorcerer, Dr. Erasmus Craven, and his first encounter with that raven that was "tap, tap, tapping" on his window! The screenplay for "The Raven" was written by the same cat that wrote "The Last Man On Earth," Richard Matheson, and was based loosely on the original Poe poem!!

The raven in question, turned back into a man, is Peter Lorre in one of the last of his amazing 113 appearances, as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo, a magician who got on the wrong side of somebody with a little bit more power than he himself possessed!

The very cool music for "The Raven" was composed by Dungeon All-Star Les Baxter, who was up to his ears in cool movies for most of his stellar career! Pianist at 5, singer in his 20's, radio show music conductor for Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello, Les scored scores of scores for the movies with classic titles like "Bop Girl Goes Calypso," "The Invisible Boy," "The Fiend Who Walked The West," and 111 more!! He gets co-credits on 8 film scores with the other prolific AIP composer, Ronald Stein, but said when interviewed that he never met him!

Peter Lorre tells Vincent that the evil sorcerer who turned him into a raven, is also in possession of an item dear to Vincent's heart, his dead wife! This shot freaked me out when I first saw it in FM!

Vinnie gets a chance to spread his comedic wings, like in this bit where he gets bonked in the head Stooges style!! The buxom blonde is Dr. Craven's daughter Estelle, played by Olive Sturgess, who was in almost every TV western made in the 50's and the 60's, "Cheyenne," "Sugarfoot," "Rawhide," "Have Gun-Will Travel," "Lawman," "Buckskin," "The Texan," "Laramie," "Wagon Train," "The Rebel," "The Tall Man," "Whispering Smith," "Maverick," "Outlaws," "The Wide Country," "Destry," "The Virginian," and "Bonanza!" Whew!!


Next up is Jack Nicholson as Dr. Bedlos's son, Rexford Bedlo! You probably remember Jack from his role as the masochist dental patient in another Corman classic, "The Little Shop Of Horrors!" IMDB trivia states that Jack didn't like the actual raven used in the movie because it crapped all over the place, and especially on him a lot!

Sometime after that wild coach ride, the whole gang ends up at the beautifully hand painted castle of the evil Dr. Scarabus! It seems like almost everybody's a Doctor in this film!

Here's a couple of nice group shots before the viewer is introduced to the very scary Dr. Scarabus!

So what could make this film even greater? Here's the man, Boris Karloff, as the guy in charge of all the mischief, Dr. Scarabus himself!

Now who's at the window, it's not Melissa Etheridge, no, it's the beyond stunning Hazel Court, as Dr. Craven's dead wife, Lenore! Just in case you've been in suspended animation or prison for the last 40 or 50 years, Hazel is one of the Dungeon Queens of Horror, for her roles in other classics besides this one, like "Devil Girl From Mars," "The Curse Of Frankenstein," "The Man Who Could Cheat Death," "Dr. Blood's Coffin," and "Premature Burial!"

Lenore looks pretty dang healthy for being a dead woman!!

The battle of the mighty sorcerers is about to begin!

And so it goes, back and forth for hours, curse after curse, spell after spell.......

.....until the final showdown that fate knows can only leave one great man standing!

"Prophet!' said I,`thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore - Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, it shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore - Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore!"


Christopher said...

Hugely entertaining movie!..yikes..the Midnight Movies disc must be out of circulation..Thirty nine bucks??I don't think so...

TABONGA! said...

We saw this one when it came out!

Douglas McEwan said...

It's on a lovely DVD with COMEDY OF TERRORS. It sits on my shelf in my living room. Love these two movies.

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