Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre would star in a 1963 adaptation by Roger Corman and Richard Matheson of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven that would end up being far more comedic than it was frightening and while most might have expected these titans of horror to deliver just that, they instead would provide a few laughs throughout.
It is always a lot of fun to see an actor or actress step out of their comfort zone or at least the genre they are most known for and try a little something different, in this case, comedy. It is always unexpected and makes for a complete surprise when it happens that for most, they will either end up loving it or hating it. As it is, Lorre is the funniest of the bunch, the man playing the victim of all things when he is in fact a powerful sorcerer himself in the film and he does it perfectly. Best of all is that the man has a comeback for everything, if not a quip or an aside to whatever is happening around him. Karloff is the heavy of the piece and he manages to create a couple of smirks in the audience but his comedic skills pale in comparison to Lorre and Price, the latter of which is the protagonist of the piece. Together, they make for a great cast, each one playing off of each other, sometimes going off-script at least in Lorre’s case as he would famously ad-lib some lines and despite not being overly funny nor scary in the slightest, it was somehow a pure joy to watch.
Overall, there was a bit of atmosphere to be had to make it all seem a little gloomy, setting the stage for a battle between sorcerers but the horror in this horror-comedy was non-existent. No scares, no frights and no blood or murder to be found aside from the villain’s defeat at the end and whether he perished from the battle that took place is debatable. Not having horror present did not detract from anything that took place on-screen but having these three men in a film together at the same time was a recipe for success, which the movie found, though it could have been so much more had they decided to play to the strengths of each man. Still, for what it was, one cannot say that there was not a good time to be had.
In addition to the main players of this film, Hazel Court would star as the long-thought dead but still alive Lenore while a young Jack Nicholson would portray Lorre’s son with Olive Sturgess playing Price’s daughter. All would complement the venerable actors who would take top billing and inject just a bit of youth to the proceedings, not that it was necessarily needed. Ultimately, one might not bust a gut as they say during the proceedings but a smile will most likely cross the face of any who choose to venture down this path.
3 out of 5