In 1963 Vincent Price starred in "The Raven", very loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe's poem. It was about a guy who gets turned into a raven and co-starred Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff - a stellar cast of talent that knew what it meant to play creepy characters.


Price was associated with several Poe writings that were adapted to screen, including "The Masque of Red Death", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The House of Usher", and "Tales of Terror". When you thought Poe, you though Vincent Price. Oh, and Roger Corman, because Corman directed a bunch of those Poe films.


James McTeigue, whom we last saw direct "Ninja Assassin" helmed the latest film involving Edgar Allen Poe.

While Vincent Price's "The Raven" was loosely based on the poem, this new version has little to nothing to do with the poem. Rather it tries to transform Edgar Allen Poe into some sort of poetic action hero in the last days of his life.


Cusack plays Poe, but is being presented as a Sherlock Holmes knock off. Poe is semi-popular, but because of his heavy drinking, also has his fair share of enemies; in particular his publisher Rufus Wilmot Griswold (John Warnaby). There is a kernel of truth as the real Griswold did do everything he could to torpedo Poe's career and legacy after death.


A series of murders take place in Baltimore and police detective Fields (Luke Evans) suspects that Poe may be the culprit.


After one of the murders occurs while Poe is in custody, he realizes that there is a madman using Poe's stories as his guide to murder. For example he slices a guy in two using a giant pendulum.

Detective Fields enlists Poe to help him solve the case, since Poe wrote the stories - he might have a heads up on the culprit's next move.


Meanwhile, Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson), a well-to-do socialite who despises Poe (Poe is dating his daughter) does everything he can to hamper Poe's efforts. mainly because he wants him to stop seeing his daughter Emily (Alice Eve).


It is only after the killer pulls of a kidnapping using The Masque of Red Death as his theme, does Hamilton get on board.


Now it's a race against time between Poe and the mysterious villain.

There is no real macabre - the true mark of Poe. Merely a series of gruesome murders. And though Poe did write of detectives (he had a detective character - C. Auguste Dupin - who appeared first in Masque of Red Death, then in The Mystery of Marie Roget and The Purloined Letter), there is nothing in his bio that indicated he ever was a detective.


This is not your great Vincent Price Poe movie that features true macabre; this is a nonsensical Sherlock Holmes rip-off. To his credit, Cusack manages to keep a straight face throughout the film.


"The Raven" probably didn't materialize the way Relativity Pictures imagined it would; it is at the very least disappointing. Disappointing for Poe fans and disappointing to anyone who remembers the Vincent Price Poe.   -- GEOFF BURTON