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: **

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