16 May 2008
THE RAVEN (Dir. Louis Friedlander, 1935, US) - Lugosi meets Karloff
The Raven was produced just as Hollywood was making the difficult transition from silent to sound, and though the Raven is clearly a sound film it nevertheless plays like a virtually silent piece of cinema. Produced and distributed by Universal Studios, The Raven brought together for the first time on screen the two biggest horror stars of 30s era; Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The film itself is a deeply escoteric mood piece that manages to strike a madenning note with the demented and unhinged performance of Bela Lugosi who plays a sadistic neurosurgeon, Dr Vollin, who spends much of the movie pulling hideous facial expressions at the audience with an acute degree of campness. Produced purely to give audiences the chance to see both Lugosi and Karloff in the same film, the story is bizarre and as weird as the over the top performances. This is an odd film but in today's age of postmodern torture porn, the Raven's sadistic streak seems restrained and quite tame.