Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

The Black Cat (1934)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)


Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi work together for the first time in one of the darkest and strangest movies ever made. First-time director Edgar G. Ulmer is the first to use the subjective camera in horror, and some consider this the finest psychological thriller of horror's Golden Age, but it was so intellectual in its approach that Ulmer would never again work for a major Hollywood studio. (His later triumph, DETOUR, was an independent cheapie.) Karloff plays an architect living in a spooky modernistic fortress on an old battlefield, with Lugosi as a psychiatrist betrayed by Karloff and left for dead on that very battlefield. When the two war companions are reunited, it emerges that Karloff killed Lugosi's wife and preserved her in an upright glass coffin, then married and killed his daughter, and now runs a satanic cult in his private tabernacle. A honeymooning couple stumbles upon the fortress, and both of these bitter twisted men fight over the beautiful bride (played by Jacqueline Wells). Eventually Karloff is skinned alive, after which Lugosi blows up the house. Ulmer had worked in Germany for the studio that produces many of the early Expressionist horror classics like THE GOLEM and this is very much in that tradition. He shot the film in 19 days for $96,000. The script by Peter Ruric is very loosely based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, with Lugosi being given ailurophobia to justify the title. With David Manners. 4 stars

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
"The Black Cat" is available on video and on DVD

It's better to have a black cat cross your path than a Mack truck
Have you ever seen the Catskill Mountains?
No, but I've seen them kill mice.
Have you ever seen a catfish?
No, how did it hold the pole?
What makes more noise than a cat stuck in a tree? Two cats stuck in a tree
What does a cat have that a dog doesn't? Kittens.

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