The Black Cat - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Cat Reviews

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½ March 12, 2018
A bit of an odd film, but still with plenty of frights. Perhaps the script could have been tweaked so that this film would have been less choppy.
January 15, 2018
I'm a sucker for Hungarian and Austrian based movies, but this was good on its own. Certainly unlike anything of it's time, this is a creepy well made movie.
December 12, 2017
The movie is hauntingly dark and heavy on the theme of death. Its expressionistic nature is evident. It's like it gathered all the evil that humanity practices and blended it into one gruesome mix. It's a minor masterpiece.
½ July 26, 2017
Very hard to watch... bizarre plot line. Over acted (silent movie style hangover?) Dozed off at one point!
½ April 20, 2017
The best performance I've seen from Lugosi and the expressionistic set is glorious. If you're a fan of 1930's horror you absolutely can't miss this.
April 17, 2017
Karloff can be creepy just standing around looking at people.
December 13, 2016
Surprisingly good and mysterious. Good performances too.
October 29, 2016
A creepy movie for its day. There is plenty of ambiance and subtlety on display here. Lugosi gets to play something of a hero, while Karloff plays a villain more realistic in his monstrosity than usual.
October 21, 2016
Strange and perverse even by today's standards.
September 23, 2016
First off the movie has nothing to do with a black cat. It is also less entertaining and eventful than the classic movies of Lugosi and Karloff on their own. It gets more eventful and entertaining towards the end though.
September 14, 2016
A renowned early horror that boasts an unmissable cast both Horror Icons Bela Lugosi (Original Hollywood Dracula) & Boris Karloff (Original Hollywood Frankenstein).

The story of two American Honeymooners that get abducted in a taxi accident & awaken in a modern mansion on the outskirts of Budapest Hungary.

Filled with much atmosphere & genius my dark scenes considering the film was made in 1934. This film is major inspiration for Metallica's Lead Guitarist Kirk Hammet who has expressed his interest towards it many times.
August 29, 2016
A good old-fashioned mix-up is certainly not the horror genre's best friend, and "The Black Cat's" innocent newlyweds, Peter and Joan Alison (David Manners and Julie Bishop), might agree with that sentiment more than anyone. Bright-eyed and ensconced with one another, these chipper twenty-somethings want nothing more than to have a pleasant honeymoon in Hungary, the first country that comes to mind when a romantic getaway is in the midst of being planned. But as they're boarding their destination bound train as "The Black Cat" opens, that good old-fashioned mix-up leaves them in the same compartment as Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Béla Lugosi), a Hungarian psychiatrist who's spent the last fifteen years imprisoned in a Siberian internment camp.
And yet in light of his dark past few years, he's friendly and seemingly in high spirits -- he's visiting an old friend, Austrian architect Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff), and appears to be overjoyed at the thought of re-acquainting himself with someone who meant a lot to him before WWI took over his life. Peter and Joan, naive and eager to please, take up his offer to share a bus following arrival. They're going in the same direction, after all, and it'd be a shame to cut their bonding with such a nice man short.
But alas, the roads are slick and the weather is low-rent Vincent Price movie rainy, and the bus crashes, leaving Joan injured. Fortunately, Poelzig's enormous manor, styled with futuristic fetishism, is nearby, and this Brad and Janet of 1934 realize they've got to make the most of a bad situation or live to regret it. With Werdegast by their side, they crash the place, hoping to resume their vacation before their host can dramatically enter another room carrying the intense stare of a "Falcon Crest" villain.
When one lives in the middle of nowhere in a mansion in Hungary, has a name like Hjalmar Poelzig, and looks and acts quite a bit like occultist Aleister Crowley, though, things are not bound to be as quick and easy as Peter and Joan would hope for. Much to our amusement, Werdegast and Poelzig are not old friends at all; Werdesgast is, rather, intent on avenging the death of his wife and daughter, whom he believes to have been murdered by Poelzig.
But Poelzig hardly seems bothered by Werdesgast's wanting to brutally off him. Perhaps a man seeking revenge shows up on his doorstep regularly; a normal stormy evening it is to him. Poelzig, anyway, is more gaga over Joan, whose nubile desirability leaves her as a perfect candidate for Satanic sacrifice.
All that occurs in the sixty-five minute "The Black Cat" takes place over a hard day's night, and because it's imperiously eccentric and palatably histrionic, it'd make more sense to view it as a bad dream translated onto nitrate simply because it doesn't make sense. As it goes with movies that use nonsensical terror as fuel for their inescapable fires of ghoulishness, from "Suspiria" to "Carnival of Souls," "The Black Cat" uses blatant outlandishness as a weapon. In no way would American newlyweds be happily honeymooning in Hungary and in no way would anyone set foot into Poelzig's eerie mansion and not sprint in the opposite direction.
But such matters are totally capable of happening in the scope of a night terror, and that's precisely the point. The film is a nightmare made mostly real, and screenwriter Peter Ruric evidently enjoys throwing various insanities (from Poelzig's keeping of female cadavers in glass cases around the home to the movie's wild finale that finds someone skinning someone else alive) left and right. Edgar G. Ulmer ("Detour," "The Strange Woman") directs with supple artistry that suggests he's seen at least a couple Fritz Lang films in his lifetime, and Karloff and Lugosi are fiendishly wonderful as they play off each other with animated pedigree.
Unsurprisingly, "The Black Cat" was Universal's highest earner of 1934 -- the horror genre was red-hot after Karloff and Lugosi respectively made it cool again in 1931 with "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" -- and was the first of eight successful collaborations between its pioneering leads. As time as shown time and time again, firsts are generally better, and because "The Black Cat" seems to be so in on the joke that every single thing about it thoroughly bizarre, I find it impossible to disagree, though I'd like to be harder on a movie that finds victimized characters so merry just hours after almost being killed by Satanists and after witnessing a man being filleted while he screams in anguish. 1934 was a crazier time than 2016, I guess.
½ June 30, 2016
Karloff and Lugosi's first collaboration is one of the best horror film's of the 30's. A really odd film that's bizarre Art Deco sets and unsavory atmosphere remain unsettling to this day. David Manners is not a very interesting lead (When was he ever?), but Lugosi and Karloff are at their best. Lugosi is single-minded and obsessed. Karloff is sinister and insinuating. The film shows what Ulmer could achieve with a sizable budget. Although he made more good films and a couple more great films, it shows what a shame it is that he never made a big budget film again.
½ March 17, 2016
Could just be me, but I don't think games, satanists, and war survivors go well together.
July 13, 2015
The Black Cat captures a kind of creepiness, courtesy of sinister lighting and sets, but the confusing plot fade this dull satanic thriller into obscurity.
December 7, 2014
This bizarre, utterly irrational masterpiece, lasting little more than an hour, has images that bury themselves in the mind, and is essentially the creation of the legendary Viennese writer, designer, producer and director Edgar G Ulmer (1904-1972). He worked at various times with Max Reinhardt, Stroheim, Murnau, Lang, Wilder and Siodmak, but his own work, which included films in Yiddish and Ukrainian and quickies aimed at black audiences, was made on low budgets. His masterpieces are The Black Cat, People On Sunday (the classic silent precursor of neo-realism), and Detour, a 1945 film noir shot in six days for less than $20,000.
½ November 9, 2014
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.
½ July 31, 2014
The Black Cat is one of Universal's best early horror films. Lugosi and Karloff are top-notch in this picture, it has a fantastic story, a lot of interesting concepts, and a gradual buildup that naturally flows from unsettling to sadistic and climactic. Not to mention the use of famous symphonies is awesome.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2014
The first cinematic meeting of Karloff and Lugosi should've been a lot better.
March 18, 2014
1931's Frankenstein And 1931's Dracula Are Two Of My Favorite Films.
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