Sunday, June 17, 2007

Would you have recognized him?

Picture taken from "The Raven", AIP 1963

Believe it or not: this handsome, charming young man is ... Jack Nicholson.

It's actually, if the text on the back of my DVD-package isn't wrong, his very first movie role as the son of the rather untalented mage Dr. Bedlo in the AIP-movie "The Raven" - very freely after Edgar Allan Poe's epic poem. (And, for the female audience: He really looked good in those tights then.)

The movie is quite a good mixture between horror and comedy, featuring the three greatest horror actors of their time: Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Dr. Craven (Vincent Price) leads a rather withdrawn life with his daughter Estelle (Olive Sturgess), bemoaning the death of his second wife Lenore (Hazel Court). One night a raven arrives at his house who turns out to be a fellow magician, turned into an animal by another mage. Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre) is changed back into human form (thought that takes some time) and coaxes Dr. Craven into coming with him to that mage, Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff), by telling him that he has seen Lenore there.

On the way to the castle of the evil Scarabus, they meet Bedlo's son Rexford (Jack Nicholson) who accompanies them. Of course Lenore is still alive - and has decided to leave her husband for the supposedly more powerful Dr. Scarabus - and of course there's finally a duel between Scarabus and Craven, but it's a good one with a lot of humour in it.

I'd still recommend the movie, if you happen to find it somewhere, as a nice way to pass an evening at home. Even though Price, Karloff and Lorre are more at home in a horror movie normally, they play their parts in this comedy very well. And even though the effects are nothing to write home about today (the movie is from 1963, again, if the text on the back of the package is correct), the whole story is quite funny with a few little shock effects and some action mixed in.

EDIT: after watching the theatrical trailer on my DVD, it seems as if AIP really advertised this movie as a horror movie - which it surely isn't today. But nevertheless, it's funny to watch and surely not worse than a lot of the stuff produced this day.

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