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The Raven / Rated R for violence, bloody scenes of torture, murder and scary images. Now you’ve already decided not to go, haven’t you?

Edgar Allen Poe is a part of American history and literature. A writer of sensational fiction concerning death and torture, he is also credited with inventing the world’s first detective story “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” EAP was born in 1809 and died in October of 1849 at the age of 40. The opening scene of The Raven is his death scene. In real life he was an alcoholic and drug user. Since all records of his last days and mysterious death no longer exist, it is not known what really happened to him. They went ahead and buried him anyway.

The Raven uses this death scene and, late in the film, EAP’s true dying words, to come up with a plot of what happened to EAP the week before his demise. The story concerns EAP’s hard life trying to make a living from writing (believe me, it’s not easy) while romancing his true love and stopping a serial killer on the loose. No, it’s not Jack the Ripper. That was later. This killer is using EAP’s own story lines and poems to kill and torture his victims.

As the bodies and scenes of grisly torture pile up, Edgar, played by John Cusack and Detective Fields of the Baltimore PD (Luke Askew) team up to figure out the clues and stop the killer before, gasp, the dearly loved heroine is done in. If they can’t stop him, her death won’t be pretty. Dirty, but not pretty.

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Not only do the bodies pile up, there are also lots of red herrings that keep the suspense and mystery going right to the final clue. I guessed wrong each and every time but I kept guessing until they threw the final clue my way. The motive should be easy for some to figure out, but I admit, I didn’t even begin to suspect the right suspect.

While fairly well made, with Serbia and Hungary standing in for Baltimore, this plays out more as a TV show than a film. Without the blood and gore it would have been introduced by Alfred Hitchcock and run 48 minutes with just as much effect.

Most of you will wait for the DVD but in the meantime you can read all the EAP stories and poems in one volume from Castle Books for less than $8. A ticket to this movie will probably cost you more. If you decide to skip the film and the book, you can always enjoy the first sandwich named for EAP next time you visit Subway. Order the po’boy. Yummy. Hold the catsup.

Rated 2.5 out of 4.0 reasons to quote the raven accurately “Caw, Caw.” End quote.

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