Topic: The Black Cat (1934)

I've been wanting to see this film for years.  I recorded it a couple of months ago from Turner Movie Classics and figured since I'd already waited forever to see it, I'd wait until October and make it part of my Halloween viewing.  Proper decision, indeed.

The film itself is supposedly suggested by Poe's tale, but has nothing to do with it aside from Lugosi's character being afraid of black cats.

A couple of young honeymooners meet one Vitus Verdeghast (Lugosi) in Hungary only to end up in a bus crash that leads them to the castle of the mysterious Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff).  Eventually, it is revealed through a series of intense confrontations and revelations that Poelzig has victimized poor Vitus in more than one way in the past, making everyone in the castle unwilling participants in a game of revenge.

Much has been made of the film's art deco set design, and rightfully so, as it injects a coldy modern atmosphere into an otherwise classic gothic tale.  Both horror icons deliver perhaps their finest performances as Lugosi manages to be equally sympathetic and menacing, with Karloff being smoothly evil.  Despite the departure from the traditional gothic horror trappings, The Black Cat features several memorable set pieces including ghostly beautiful women preserved behind glass, an artfully staged black mass that is the highlight of the film, and a violent finale that prefigures the sadistic torture porn of the past decade.  The Black Cat is highly recommended to fans of classic horror and suspense and of these two legendary performers.

Last edited by Maxwell (2012-10-10 19:41:28)

Re: The Black Cat (1934)

I watched this recently. I was very impressed with it. I agree with you about Lugosi's and Karloff performances, they were great and as u say the film had a very effective atmosphere. Certainly one of my faves from the 1930's era. In reference to ur comment about the torture sequence perhaps some modern 'torture porn' films could have learned a lesson from Black Cat in that u dont have to show excessive gore to make a torture scene powerful. Just by Lugosi's performance of his character, for example made the suggested torture powerfull.

Re: The Black Cat (1934)

It's hard not to gush over this movie. It was just so well done. The set work is beautiful and haunting. The acting is top notch with Karloff great as always and one of Lugosi's best performances. I love the scene of them playing each other at chess. The movie was also pretty extreme for it's time, like you mentioned. It was made just before the film code was implemented. Really it's one of my favourites of the era.

Last edited by Theli (2012-10-13 04:13:13)

Re: The Black Cat (1934)

Haven't seen the '34 version yet.  On YouTube, though (in 6 parts), so makes it easy to see.

Re: The Black Cat (1934)

direction of this movie is perfect,,,,,,perfect set for horror,,,,