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The Raven(1963)

Fifty-five years ago, Roger Corman traded horror for humor with his fifth Edgar Allan Poe adaptation. It was also his fourth and final collaboration with writer Richard Matheson. The two had tried going for laughs in “The Black Cat,” the second story in their previous film Tales of Terror (1962). They were both so pleased with the results they decided to reteam that segment’s stars, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. This time they threw Boris Karloff into the mix as an evil magician trying to steal rival Price’s magic. Rounding out the cast are horror staple Hazel Court as Price’s wife, Lenore, and a very young Jack Nicholson as Lorre’s son. Lorre and Nicholson added to the fun of the script by ad-libbing comedic retorts throughout. That threw Price and Karloff but Price’s skill in improvisation helped him go with whatever the actors came up with. Karloff was less happy and he wasn’t pleased with the heavy cloak he had to walk around in. Of course, he was too professional to let it show on screen. What did show was a trio of expert performances turning this satire of supernatural horror into a comedy classic. (d. Roger Corman, 86m, 35mm)

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