Scary Movie Review: The Black Cat (1934)

Title: The Black Cat
Release Date: May 7, 1934
Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Production Company: Universal Pictures

The Black Cat is a Universal Horror film that united Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi onscreen for the first of eight movies together.  It also introduced psychological horror to Hollywood horror.  Peter (David Manners) and Joan Alison (Julie Bishop) are a newlywed American couple in eastern Europe where they meet the mysterious Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Béla Lugosi) on a train.  Later, after a bus crash, they all end up in the mansion of Werdegast’s old friend and rival Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff). Weird things happen including taxidermied women under glass,  a game of chess, and the rites of a satanic cult.

It’s fun watching Karloff and Lugosi trying to out-ham one another, but the rest of the cast is uninspired.  I like setting of Modernist mansion built on the site of a fort where Austrian soldiers were slaughtered in the First World War as the house of horrors, although that concept didn’t seem to catch on.  But overall, I found this movie to be dull and to not make much sense.

Rating: **

Book Review: The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Around the World for a Good Book selection for Bangladesh

Author: Tahmima Anam
Title: The Startup Wife 
Narrator: Tanha Dil
Publication Info: Simon & Schuster Audio, 2021

Asha Ray, the child of immigrants grows up feeling like an outsider in the United States, but blossom into adulthood as a talented computer scientist.  While working on her PhD, she is reunited with her high school crush, a white American named Cyrus.  They fall in love, get married, and begin working on an app built on Cyrus’ idea of creating rituals around non-religious things that people are passionate about.  Working in a startup incubator in New York City, Cyrus begins to emerge as a charismatic celebrity tech guru, while Asha and her work are pushed to the side.

I have to say I waited too long after finishing reading to write this review because I’m forgetting the details.  But I do recall initially enjoying the book but losing interest as it went along.  Nevertheless it is an interesting take on “bro culture” in the tech world that discriminates against women and people of color as well as the immigrant experience.  There are also parts of it that oddly reminiscent of Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.  I suspect that my engagement problems with this book were more my fault than the authors so your mileage may vary.

Rating: ***