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The Black Cat Reviews

Page 1 of 10
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2012
"The Black Cat" was the first film to pair the legendary stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and at just 65 minutes in length, it packs quite a bit of oddness into it's short running time. A young couple (David Manners and Julie Bishop) are honeymooning in Hungary (of all places). Traveling by train, they share a compartment with Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi), a psychiatrist on his way to visit an old friend. This old friend, Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff) is an architect who has built a futuristic mansion on top of an old battlefield/graveyard. Poelzig betrayed Dr. Werdegast during WWI, and Werdegast spent several years in a prison there (he was betrayed possibly so Poelzig could steal his wife away), and now returning, Werdegast swears revenge. Throw some satanism into the works and there you have it. Karloff's Hjalmar Poelzig is quite a unique and sinister character, and Lugosi's doctor, with his bizarre cat phobia (whenever he sees a cat, he must either try to murder it or throw his hands over his eyes in terror) is equally odd. While the credits might acknowledge Edgar Allen Poe's original story, there is little here to resemble it. What we have is a strange and well, unique contribution to the horror genre of the 1930s.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 3, 2010
A very interesting old horror movie with two of the best old horror movie stars. A really cool movie.
366weirdmovies
366weirdmovies

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2007
A young couple find themselves caught between the machinations of a doctor bent on revenge (Bela Lugosi) and a mad engineer (Boris Karloff) in the latter's Art Deco mansion, built on the graves of the soldiers he sold out in a World War I battle. The story's a little ragged (with a black cat popping up at random moments to terrify Lugosi), but Edward G. Ulmer's direction, the geometric sets, and the atmosphere of elegant perversity inexorably draw you in to the Expressionist nightmare.
cancercapricorn2002
cancercapricorn2002

Super Reviewer

August 3, 2009
A couple Peter and Joan Allison are joined by Dr. Vitus Verdegast (Bela Lugosi) who are on their way to a hotel, but suddenly their bus crashes during a storm. Dr Verdegast suggests they seek refuge in Hjalmar Poelzig's (Boris Karloff) house, who is an old acquaintance of his and he's secretly seeking revenge against him for the death of his wife and betraying his country by slaughtering his entire army when it was sacrificed to Satan during WW1. Dr Verdegast discovers that Poelzig has the same idea for Joan, which saw him kill his wife. So to help them escape Dr. Verdegast challenges Poelzig to a game of chess and if he wins they are free and if he doesn't their doom.

Incredibly complex and odd assortments of novelties ranging from Sadism, Superstition to Satan worship fill this stylish yet confusing film. I wasn't particularly gob smacked or incredibly impressed by the film after reading a lot good things about it, but it's the performances and the look of the film that kept me glued and amazed. The plot had an engrossing set up, but the story just didn't compliment it, as it could have been far more interesting than it was. It jumps here to there without real cohesion and becomes rather thin in detail, but there are some surprising revelations along the way. The dialogue on the other hand was rather fine, if too much of it. There was a lot of conversations than actual action or lively scenes. The distinction between Dr Verdegast and Poelzig is pretty even in power and determination to rid each other. With them tossing back and forth sharp and intense dialogue to get the upper hand. All of this mayhem between them leads to a greatly energetic tussle between the two stars.

The set-up is a slow-grinder to begin with, though there are interesting ideas that pop up throughout the film. The reasonably slow dramatic 45-minutes suddenly picks up the pace and energy levels for the last thrilling and involving 15-minutes, which alone is good reason to watch it. This is when Satanists and sacrificial ceremonies fill the story. There is a brilliant climax involving a skinning that is implied to great effect and a big explosion to end it all. The ironic ending was fairly convincing and enjoyable in tying up the film.

It's definitely Lugosi's best performance that I've seen( I wasn't a fan of his version of "Dracula") It was a good change to see him playing a good guy and a much more controlled and subtle character than his eccentric roles. Boris Karloff comes across rather menacing and quite callous in appearance. His body language is impressively noticeable and imposing in creating terror. From his dead looking facials and soft spoken voice really added to the unease. Julie Bishop and David Manners as the couple were fine in their performances.

This is impressively atmospheric and holds such a great awe to it all. The modernistic cold domain of Poelzig's castle truly stands out, with the spiral staircase, sliding doors, the dark dungeon and curvy interior. There is such great composition with lighting and solid camera-work captures the elegance and style of the scenery beautifully. The soaring score takes hold and sometimes it got rather distracting for me. As I kept trying to figure out where I heard the score from before.

Overall, "The Black Cat" is a very good mood piece and holds such great performances, it's a weird and wonderful film that is highly entertaining.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2008
it's fun to see karloff and lugosi working together. there is a black cat; other than that there's no resemblance to poe's short story. karloff plays an architect and leader of a gang of satanists with lugosi as a man from his past back to settle an old score, a psychiatrist who has a terrible fear of cats. interesting set design
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2007
Boris Karloff plays the leader of a bunch of satanists, and is willing to sacrifice a married couple, who are unexpectedly protected by none other than Bela Lugosi. Duel of titans that has few or nothing to do with Edgar Allan Poe's short story, but is directed with attractive expressionism by Edgar G. Ulmer, an underrated king of B movies
Dr Blood  

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2007
Utter rubbish with nothing at all to do with the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name even if it is mentioned in the opening credits.
The bizarre plot becomes more and more muddled as the film progresses with gaping holes everywhere. Mercifully, it is all soon over.
The only good bit is the set design. The acting is atrocious and there are no scares here for horror fans.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 9, 2006
Probably best enjoyed if you make a drinking game out of it.
George M

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2011
Messy script and typically silly finalle. But Karloff's presence is marvellous, terrifying and convincing.
Marcus W

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2009
The first cinematic meeting of Karloff and Lugosi should've been a lot better.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

July 16, 2008
A nice, atmospheric picture with Bela Lugosi actually playing the good guy! A landmark in perverse cinema. Influenced many films after it, but beyond that, it manages to entertain. A must see for fans of Karloff and Lugosi.
Hellshocked
Hellshocked

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2010
A rare, sympathetic (though not rare, ill fated) turn by Bela Lugosi, facing off against Boris Karloff on screen for the first time, highlights this nonsensical little Universal cheapie. Some strong ideas remain largely unexplored and the entire film feels like it was improvised as it was shot. It also feels padded, even at a running time of just over an hour.

Still, it was nice to see my friends on screen once more, and in a pre-Hays Code film to boot.
September 30, 2012
Hey, Karloff and Lugosi all at the same time, can't complain. Well, maybe a little. The cable provider I watched it on was breaking up so I missed some stuff, and Lugosi's accent was difficult to understand now and then, and I had no subtitles to bail me out.
May 16, 2012
"The Black Cat" was the first film to pair the legendary stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and at just 65 minutes in length, it packs quite a bit of oddness into it's short running time. A young couple (David Manners and Julie Bishop) are honeymooning in Hungary (of all places). Traveling by train, they share a compartment with Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi), a psychiatrist on his way to visit an old friend. This old friend, Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff) is an architect who has built a futuristic mansion on top of an old battlefield/graveyard. Poelzig betrayed Dr. Werdegast during WWI, and Werdegast spent several years in a prison there (he was betrayed possibly so Poelzig could steal his wife away), and now returning, Werdegast swears revenge. Throw some satanism into the works and there you have it. Karloff's Hjalmar Poelzig is quite a unique and sinister character, and Lugosi's doctor, with his bizarre cat phobia (whenever he sees a cat, he must either try to murder it or throw his hands over his eyes in terror) is equally odd. While the credits might acknowledge Edgar Allen Poe's original story, there is little here to resemble it. What we have is a strange and well, unique contribution to the horror genre of the 1930s.
kenscheck
May 8, 2012
Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi team up for the first time in this loose adaptation of the Edgar Allen Poe short story of the same name. By "loose" I mean it bears no resemblance to the story I read. It does have a team up of Universal's two biggest stars at the time, which is noteworthy in and of itself. The movie is a dark and pretty well executed horror film in it's own right, even if the plot doesn't adhere to the source, and there is imagery that is still pretty effective and scary.
NEMESISxDx
February 15, 2011
i love this movie. it has a strong eastern european edge to it without being insulting, the scenes are good, the story bizarre yet realistic and the acting great. a good watch regardless of its length.
October 28, 2010
A terrifically moody little piece that sees Lugosi pitted against and evil Karloff in a great looking Art Deco mansion in the Carpathian mountains. Throw into this a hapless American couple who are honeymooning and you've got a tense night as the Americans discover glass cases with women suspended in them down in the basement, y'know, the sort of thing that the average traveler might find unsettling.

Well worth a look, give it a peep.
August 6, 2010
I meant to find the 1941 version which stars Lugosi as well, but picked this one up by mistake. This one also features Boris Karloff (while the 1941 version also features Peter Lorre). An American couple are vacationing by train in Hungary and meet the character played by Lugosi who shares their cabin. They learn he he is visiting an old friend. On the way from the train station to the town, the car they are all traveling in gets in an accident so Lugosi's character offers to have the couple stay at his friend's house for immediate medical treatment. We learn that it is not a 'friend' in any sense of the word, but someone for whom he has seeked vengeance for decades for a number of wrongs. Some funny moments; though short, its still a bit slow - this scene makes it worth viewing. Not sure what the Poe story had to do with this!
April 28, 2010
the way Lugosi & Karloff play off each other. Always so cool to see them both in a movie, however I fell asleep to this. But karloff?s character Hjalmar Poelzig is keeping a 15 year secret. Bela Lugosi as Dr. Vitus Werdegast is back from prison after 15 years & he?s missing his family & wants to see them. ON the way from the train w/ a nice couple in the tempest they run off the road. The couple stay at Hjalmar?s because the girls been hurt. They arrive & Dr. Vitus takes care of the girl & inquires about his family Karloff says they?re dead. This is part thriller part mystery. Decent cast although The women in this era are made to scream too much. Want a scream queen listen to these women! Bela seems to be the villain at times but he?s also in danger in a ?warlock?s lair? C
cmrnlewis
July 2, 2008
Stylish pairing of Bela Lugosi (as the good guy) and a devilish Boris Karloff. The set design alone is worth the viewing.
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