THE RAVEN

(1935)
With Bela Lugois, Boris Karloff
Directed by Louis Friedlander (Lew Landers)
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Most mad doctors agree: Laughter IS the best medicine      A mad doctor in love with a woman who won't give him the time of day hires an escape murderer to do his bidding.  Or something like that.

     If you are ever in the mood to see Bela Lugosi as the maddest of all movie mad doctors, check out this minor classic of the Universal Horror Cycle.  As someone on the Internet Movie Database put it: "It is 60 minutes of nothing but great lines."  The key is not that the lines are all that cleverly written, but that Lugosi spits them out in so many little unexpected ways that his speech patterns actually become the rhythm of this film.  Other characters speak, and then classic after classic comes out of Lugosi's mouth.  For instance, take a line like "A humble home - but your love will make it beautiful." Could be a generic line from any love story.  But here's is an approximation of how Lugosi says it:  "A humble place - but your luuvvvv will make it beyooteeful!".  That cannot even begin to describe the amount of venom Bela squeezes into the word "love", or the sheer delight he has in uttering that sentence while ushering the film's bland young lovers into a room where the moving walls will crush them to death.  Sometimes the lines themselves are just badly written.  Surely there are better ways to express the idea in the line "You are saying something profound."  Yet Lugosi takes this line and speaks it as if it were the most profound sentence ever written.  Again, nearly impossible to decribe, but it is genius!  Mad genius to boot!

     I could go on, but it is difficult to describe the effect Lugosi has on words without letting you hear them, and this site does not have the capacity to do that (yet).  The movie is slowly paced and sometimes creaky, but it's worth tracking down to delight in Lugosi's deliciously loopy performance as Dr. Richard Vollin, Edgar Allan Poe Enthusiast, Torture Devices a Specialty.  - JB

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ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON:

"What torture! What a delicious torture, Bateman!  Greater than Poe!  Poe only conceived it; I have done it, Bateman.  Poe, you are.. A-VENGED!" (Maniacal laughter follows)

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