The Raven: A gothic goody!

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PHOENIX -- I might have read only a little of Edgar Allan Poe’s timeless literature but thanks to Roger Corman and his classic horror films, Poe’s stories have been committed to my heart and mind with permanent ink.  Utilizing tiny tidbits of facts, “The Raven” is a fascinating murder mystery that takes an imaginary trip into the last days of the scribe’s life.

The springboard for the trip is the fact that no one really knows what killed Poe.  On Oct. 3, 1849, the 40-year-old author, critic and king of gothic prose was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious “in great distress and…in need of assistance”.  He was taken to the hospital where he died four days later.  He was never coherent long enough to explain what had happened to him and to add to the mystery he was wearing someone else’s clothes.  “The Raven” starts with a dying Poe and retraces his imagined steps in assisting a police investigation into a series of murders that use Poe’s various writings as clues.  For you see the murderer is intent on playing a cat and mouse game with the master of mystery himself.  When killer ups the ante by kidnapping Poe’s fiancé, the battle of literary wits is on!

You don’t need to know any of Poe’s works to play along but it is so much more delicious to do so.  I had a blast with each one:  The Masque of the Red Death, The Tell-Tale Heart and a graphically gruesome The Pit and the Pendulum.  (Although I got a little too excited by my spotting of The Premature Burial, only to be disappointed that the piece was never named though shown.)

“The Raven” is not a horror film per se, though the murders are often grisly and the suspense is high.  Steeped in foreboding atmosphere, 1840’s Baltimore is foggy, creepy and a ripe setting for mystery and murder.  John Cusack does a good job as Poe, though nothing is done to make him look as homely as the writer really was.  But the melancholy, the frustration, the drinking, the out of control passion are all there and believably so.  Cusack is surrounded with good performances from veteran Brendan Gleeson, intense hottie Luke Evans and relative newcomer Alice Eve as the damsel very much in distress.

“The Raven” kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  Just like any good mystery by the master himself, Edgar Allan Poe.

“The Raven” flies in with 3&1/2 Red Vines for a being a good period mystery

MY ADVICE:  If you haven’t had the macabre pleasure of seeing any of Roger Corman’s classic Edgar Allan Poe movies, then get crackin’!  My personal favorites are the ones listed above.  As a bonus you get to see all the master of horror at their best:  Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and the inimitable, unforgettable Vincent Price!