“I will not be tortured… I tear torture out of myself by torturing you!“
A psychotic, Poe-obsessed surgeon (Bela Lugosi) saves the life of a beautiful young dancer (Irene Ware), then falls obsessively in love with her. When her father (Samuel S. Hinds) ridicules his request for her hand in marriage, Lugosi blackmails a fugitive criminal (Boris Karloff) into torturing Ware, her fiance (Lester Matthews), and Hinds.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Dubbed “a fatal mistake from beginning to end” by the New York Times upon its release, this Poe-inspired Universal horror flick has since gained a latter day cult following, with Peary himself referring to it as “great fun”, and accurately noting that Lugosi seems to be having “a field day” playing the “fiendish surgeon” with a penchant for everything-Poe. Equally effective — and surprisingly sympathetic — is top-billed Karloff as a tortured criminal whose perceived ugliness has prevented him from becoming the “good man” he longs to be; his intentionally botched facial surgery at the hands of evil Lugosi is tragic to behold. While not quite as stylistically innovative as its more celebrated precursor (The Black Cat), The Raven nonetheless offers plenty of unintentional camp, and some genuinely frightening moments; hearing Lugosi rant and rave about how he can only purge his own insanity by torturing others ranks among the great horror chills of all time.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bela Lugosi as Dr. Vollin: “After your torture, I’ll be the sanest man in the world!”
- Boris Karloff as Bateman: “If a man looks ugly, he does ugly things…”
- Karloff shooting at himself in multiple mirrors after seeing his newly disfigured face
- A freaky tale of demented, obsessive love
- Creepy set designs
- Atmospheric cinematography
Yes, for its status as a latter-day cult favorite.