Richard Matheson, one of the most important talents in the horror field (his filmed novelsinclude Hell House, The Shrinking Man and I Am Legend — the latterdone twice, as The Last Man On Earth and The Omega Man), scripts this twoblack comedies. In The Comedy of Terrors, Vincent Price is the scheming owner of afuneral home. He has taken over the business from doddering and deaf Boris Karloff, and,desperate for money, forces t…e unfortunate Peter Lorre to help him drum up business by killingprospective clients. Funny stuff as far as it goes, but The Raven is the real masterpiecehere. Directed by Roger Corman, the film chronicles the battle between good (but wimpy)sorcerer Price and evil sorcerer Karloff. Caught up in the battle are Price’s daughter and Lorre’sson (played by none other than Jack Nicholson). Half the fun is watching the collision of actingstyles: classically-trained Karloff, method actor Nicholson, improvisational madman Lorre, andmediator Price.
The sound is mono, and for all that one might moan on about wishing for stereo remixes, thatreally isn’t necessary. The sound is clean, and the voices have are clear, and noise of all kinds iskept to a minimum, especially considering that the films are a) low-budget; and b) fortyyears old.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratios of the two films have been preserved. This isespecially good news in the cast of The Raven, which until now has been available onlyas an awful fullscreen LP VHS. The climactic wizard battle (not to mention all the otherexpansive compositions) can now be seen in all its glory. The colours are very deep and rich.There is some grain (less so on The Comedy of Terrors), and The Raven is notwithout its dirty moments and speckles. Still, these are perfectly acceptable transfers of olderfilms.
Both movies are accompanied by reminiscences by Richard Matheson, who also expoundson his storytelling philosophy in 9-minute featurettes. The theatrical trailers are present too.The Raven has a few more extras. Roger Corman shares his (fascinating) recollectionsin another featurette (too brief at 8 minutes). A very neat addition is the original promotionalrecord for The Raven, accompanied by a still gallery. The menus are basic.
This is yet another terrific addition to the Midnite Movies line: two long-overdue widescreenreleases from the golden age of American International Pictures. No commentaries, but theprovided extras are good stuff, and any extra at all is a serious bonus when you’re already gettingtwo movies at a budget price.
Special Features List
- Richard Matheson: Storyteller Episodes
- Theatrical Trailers
- “Corman’s Comedy of Poe” Featurette
- Promotional Record with Still Gallery