Tonight at the Heights Theater, we continue our celebration of Universal Horror classics, with yet another fantastic double-feature. James Whale’s classic Bride of Frankenstein paired with Lew Landers’ underseen The Raven–and you get two-for-the-price-of-one!
Trylon volunteer Michael Popham weighs in on the lesser known of the two horror flicks:
It’s stressful being the world’s greatest spinal surgeon. With a job like that, you need a hobby to help you unwind. In The Raven, Dr. Richard Vollin (Bela Lugosi) has three hobbies: he collects gloomy Edgar Allen Poe memorabilia, plays the pipe organ in his living room, and is building his own Poe-inspired torture chamber in the basement.
As you’ve probably already guessed, Dr. Vollin has a few screws loose. Thwarted in his romantic intention toward young Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware), Vollin decides to put the torture chamber into use, luring Jean and her family to his house and trapping them inside. Like all revenge-obsessed surgeons, Vollin needs an assistant, and he finds one in a fugitive named Bateman (Boris Karloff) who is reluctantly pressed into his service.
The Raven was a follow-up (though not a sequel) to the previous year’s Karloff and Lugosi team-up The Black Cat, which also took its title from the works of Edgar Allen Poe. This one is less stylized than The Black Cat but they are similar films in that plot takes a back seat to a gloomy atmosphere. It’s the kind of movie that Edgar Allen Poe would have loved.
Karloff was an intensely physical actor, and he is splendid as the tormented convict who has been trapped into doing Vollin’s bidding. As an added bonus we get Lugosi at his scenery-chewing best, cackling with glee and rubbing his hands together as his unwitting guests arrive. I love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) plays tonight at 7:30, and The Raven (1935) shows immediately afterward at 9:00, and one ticket gets you in for both. They are available at the box office or online.