A young woman by the name of Jean Thatcher is involved in a tragic accident as her car falls off a cliff. Jean’s survival will require a skilled surgeon. Jean’s family have no choice but to approach Dr Vollin (Bela Lugosi), a highly skilled surgeon who lives in a very large, dark castle. At first the Dr refuses to assist but shortly after has a change of heart and agrees to try and help keep Jean from possible death.
While Dr. Vollin operates, he discovers that Jean is quite beautiful and begins to develop strong feelings for her. The operation is a success, and Jean survives. As the Dr pursues Jean, he discovers that she is already committed, but that won’t stop Dr. Vollin from getting what he wants. You see, Dr Vollin has a secret obsession with Edgar Allen Poe and personally owns a number of instruments of torture located underneath his castle.
Around the same time as he is pursuing Jean, the Dr is approached by another man. A criminal named Edmond Bateman is seeking a complete face change in order to start a new life. Dr Vollin agrees to conduct the operation, but instead of positively transforming him, Dr Vollin completely disfigures Edmond instead. In order to correct the disfigurement, he tells Edmond to do something terrible. Being a criminal and murderer, the request should be quite simple. If Edmond accepts and completes the task that Dr Vollin has set out, he promises to give Edmond a whole new face and one that is no longer disfigured. Will Edmond complete the terrible task to save his face and start a new life?
The Raven is an extremely pleasing film due to many elements. Performances here by both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff are tremendous. The film’s plot, considering this was released in 1935, feels new and fresh even in the present day. While it might seem like an uncomfortable plot, watching a man falling head over heel and determining to do anything to win the woman of his dreams was quite pleasing. As the film progressed I also enjoyed discovering just how much of a madman Dr Vollin really is. At the film opening, he seemed to be such a professional, kind man, when, in reality, there’s more than meets the eye.
Overall, this a horror classic that comes highly recommended. The Raven consists of a fun and yet horrific plot which still feel fresh even when watching in the present day. The film’s performances are also a major highlight for me as is the chemistry between both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It’s films like this that I wished we saw more of in cinemas today instead of remakes and reboots. The Raven is a satisfying horror film and now available DVD within The Boris Karloff Collection thanks to Umbrella Entertainment.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden