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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LUGOSI SAVES THE DAY
The great Bela Lugosi has a score to settle. After a car crash,Lugosi
offers to take a stranded honeymoon couple to the house of his friend,
Herr Poelzig. Lugosi has a score to settle with poelzig, as he left him
for dead in a POW camp, and then married his wife.
Poelzig tells him she is dead, but in fact she is still being held prisoner by the...
Published on 14 April 2008 by Peter J. Dooley

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars The Black Cat
This film suffers from heavy and careless editing, which somewhat reduced my enjoyment. Lugosi's melodramatic acting contrasts unflatteringly with Karloff's more restrained style. Visually striking, but I'm a sucker for art deco. Beautifully lit. Do not expect anything to do with Poe, though.
Published 2 months ago by Trevor Sproston


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LUGOSI SAVES THE DAY, 14 April 2008
By 
Peter J. Dooley "Retrohorror" (London England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
The great Bela Lugosi has a score to settle. After a car crash,Lugosi
offers to take a stranded honeymoon couple to the house of his friend,
Herr Poelzig. Lugosi has a score to settle with poelzig, as he left him
for dead in a POW camp, and then married his wife.
Poelzig tells him she is dead, but in fact she is still being held prisoner by the sadistic Poelzig,
who also wants to keep the honeymoon couple to offer as a sacrifice in one of his frequent Black Mass ceremonies.
Can Bela save them and find out the truth about his wife before it is too late?
A fine Universal Horror Classic with Lugosi on top form sparring with the equally great Boris Karloff.
Look out for John Carradine in his debut role as the pianist.
A haunting, poetic movie with a solid cast and slowly revealing story. Don't miss.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Supernatural perhaps...baloney perhaps not...', 17 April 2009
This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
Edgar G. Ulmer's 'The Black Cat' stands out as a true high point of the 1930's Universal horror films and without doubt here we have a film to haunt and fascinate the imagination and chill the soul, with its glacial and shadowy atmospheres set in the sinister Art Deco/Bauhaus mansion of Engineer Poelzig, played with incredible presence and arresting visual impact by Boris Karloff, who has built his house on the ruins of Fort Marmarus which he commanded during the war. We are taken on a rainswept journey into the darkside of post WWI Mittel-Europa. Bela Lugosi plays his nemesis, Dr Vitus Werdegast, who once served under him and has now returned as avenging angel, seeking Kaarin his lost wife and 'thirsting for his blood' as Poelzig sonorously declares. The foils to all this obsessive darkness, doom and madness are the newlywed couple of novelist Peter Allison (David Manners) and his young wife Joan, played by the exquisite Jacqueline Wells. Many brilliant and striking scenes impress themselves from the Expressionistic appearance of starkly shadowed cats, curious use of angles, light and darkness, Poelzig's necrophiliac shrine beneath the castle where beautiful women are preserved in glass cases so that he might 'possess their beauty for ever', the fraught and intense chess-game which Werdegast and Poelzig play, the strange rites of the Black Mass which Poelzig officiates over at the rites of Lucifer held at the dark of the moon in a wonderfully designed infernal chapel. This ravishingly stylish and unsettling tale breaks all the conventions, succeeds magnificently and perhaps gives a disquieting glimpse at the tenebrous and infernal power which conceals itself at the very heart of modernity, for this film is certainly a kind of meditation upon the multifarious and deathless evil manifest in the ruinous landscape of the 20th century with its relentless war and insane cruelty...apparently Poelzig was named after the famed German architect and designer Hans Poelzig who was also something of a Platonist-tinged mystic and heavily influenced by esoteric concepts. This film is around an hour long - compared to today's overblown and overlong cinematic effusions of mediocrity it's nothing short of miraculous just how rich and powerful an experience can be compressed into such a modest time-window but Ulmer and Ruric's 'The Black Cat' is certainly a darkly elegant, beautifully-realised and truly stylish masterpiece, one of my favourite films.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terriffic horror, with a sympathetic Lugosi and Karloff as an architect with a talent for embalming. Plus great art deco, 6 Aug 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
"I go to visit an old friend," says Dr. Vitus Werdegast to Peter and Joan Alison, the young newlyweds he meets on the train moving through a rain-swept night. Their destination is the small, picturesque village of Vizhegrad that had been the site of a horrendous battle during the Great War. They board a bus and the driver tells them, "All of this country was one of the greatest battlefields of the war. Tens of thousands of men died here. The ravine down there was piled twelve deep with dead and wounded men. The little river below was swollen red, a raging torrent of blood. And that high hill yonder where Engineer Poelzig now lives was the site of Fort Marmorus. He built his home on its very foundations. Marmorus, the greatest graveyard in the world." Then the bus swerves and crashes in the driving rain, leaving the driver dead and the young wife injured, Dr. Werdegast takes them to Hjalmar Poelzig's home...his "old friend." Just who are Dr. Vitus Werdegast and Hjalmar Poelzig?

Werdegast (Bela Lugosi), says Poelzig, "is one of Hungary's greatest psychiatrists," He was captured in the Great War and thrown into a dank prison to rot for 15 years. He lost his wife, his young daughter and, as we shall see, his sanity. Yet he will be deeply touched by the newlyweds.

Poelzig (Boris Karloff), says Werdegast, is "one of Austria's greatest architects." He designed the great monolith of a home that sits atop what was Fort Marmorus. Poelzig has a muscular body and a slab of a face, with cruel, mocking eyes and a widow's peak that would make Robert Taylor cry with envy. We also will learn that he is a traitor, a murderer, a seducer, a Satanist and a talented embalmer.

The Black Cat has nothing to do with Poe's story. It's about evil, madness, love and obsession. That this all takes place in a terrific art deco setting keeps us smiling...but down in the dungeon, where we meet the wives of Engineer Poelzig and watch how a keen scalpel can slowly flay the skin from a man's face...well, we don't turn away.

What makes this movie one of my favorites is the character of Dr. Werdegast and the performance of Bela Lugosi. Werdegast may go mad, but he's been driven mad by terrible injustice, by the loss of those he loved and by the final knowledge that their fate was worse than he ever believed. "Is she not beautiful?" says Poelzig to Werdegast, deep in the preserved caverns of Fort Marmorus. "I wanted to have her beauty, always. I loved her too, Vitus." Though Werdegast tips over the edge to exact a terrible revenge, he still responds to the love the two newlyweds have for each other. He realizes the evil in Poelzig, and he counters it to protect and finally save the young couple. A game of chess, if lost, may lead to death for Peter Alison and a much worse fate for Joan Alison. Lugosi is quite touching in those moments he shows tenderness to young Peter and Joan Alison and in his determination to save them from the equally mad Poelzig. And Boris Karloff? He was a fine actor, and studying his style is time well spent. All this in just 65 minutes, and with art deco, too.

If I had to choose a few of Hollywood's more-or-less classic old horror movies to take with me to a deserted island, this and The Body Snatchers would be among them. Both have a sympathetic protagonist caught up in horror partly of his own making, with just enough cheese to keep the stories entertaining and not so much "human condition" redemption as to make them tiresome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, 12 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
Awesome film! Great dvd quality! Recommended to any classic film lover! I love it so much and I think most people would! Lugosi and Karloff are great as always.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Karloff and Lugosi's first venture into horror together., 24 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Black Cat [DVD] (DVD)
The very first pairing of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi ensured that this was Universal's No 1 film of 1934 and 80 years on you can see why. Karloff plays a satanic worshipper who has a fetish for killing women and then keeping them preserved in the basement. Lugosi in a rare role plays the good guy who gives Karloff a visit in order to kill him after Karloff killed his wife years ago. Lugosi is paired with an American couple that he meets on his travels and with nowhere to stay they join the 'party'.

The dialogue is pretty good.Karloff: "Come, Vitus. Are we men or are we children? Of what use are all these melodramatic gestures? You say your soul was killed, that you have been dead all these years. And what of me? Did we not both die here in Marmaros 15 years ago"? for example.

The Black Cat is really about two people Karloff and Lugosi who command the screen to the point that the other characters are just a tad annoying- led by the American couple, played by David Manners and Julie Bishop. Bishop is quite forgetable especially. The sets are very daring, and Karloff's house wouldn't be out of place in the 1970s yet alone the 30s. His daunting sci fi ish haircut only adds to the futuristic take on the place.

Edgar G Ulmer directs. Though this was his final studio film after being blackballed by Hollywood over an affair. Still made many good ones after this though. As for the title, don't get confused with the 1941 movie and also don't think for a second that this film is adapted from an Edgar Allen Poe story- it isn't. Though Poes name is mentioned in the credits, to draw the audidence in one suspects. There is a black cat of which Lugosi shreiks at during the film, but other than that the cat has nothing to do with the movies plot and eventual outcome.

The Black Cat is a very good film though it isn't without its problems. We have a sluggish start and Ulmer uses too many pitch black scenes, we literally cannot see anything at times. Finally Ulmer seems to have brought that silent cinema lingering into the talkies (of which at the time of release were only 5 years old). But it can be annoying, when you have said character finish off their lines only to stare blankly for a few seconds. We could of course blame that on editing also. Perhaps it made cinema audiences back in the day wince with terror, but today it does nothing, makes the end scene look goofy. And with the way cinema developed I would hazard a guess it looked goofy a few years after this films release. Alas the film is not bogged down by this and is a very enjoyable movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb horror classic, 22 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Black Cat [DVD] (DVD)
This film was originally released in 1934 and was the first time that Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi had appeared together in a movie. The second time that they appeared together in a movie was in The Raven, which followed in 1935. Both of these films are classics and well worth seeing to fans of either Karloff or Lugosi, or fans of vintage horror in general. The Black Cat features Lugosi in an extremely rare good guy role and Karloff plays the villain here. It is allegedly based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe, but there is no similarity between these at all, so the only thing that they share in common is the name. The film is rated 15 by the BBFC, which is the rating that The Raven also carries and I can only assume that the reason for this is because of the ending, which features some moderate violence and elements of torture and sadism. It does seem strange that these two films of this vintage should still receive such a high rating, especially after all these years. You may be interested to know that, back in 1934, this film originally received the title of House Of Doom in the UK and most of the black cat and devil worshippers references were cut. I cannot confirm if this DVD is the uncut version or not, because there is no evidence on the internet to ratify this. You should still buy this DVD and The Raven too, because they are both horror classics and still enjoyable to watch even now. Both films belong in any collection of classic horror. The full five stars from me, for this superb classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest horror movies, 21 Feb 2013
This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
One of the best Universal horrors, in my opinion right up there with Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolfman. Such a pity it comes with such a fearful price tag. For those who like this sort of thing it might be an argument for getting a multi-region dvd player - my copy is on the Region 1 Bela Lugosi collection, which is a bit cheaper and also has 2 other good films and 2 more that pass the time pleasantly enough.

If push came to shove, though, I'd buy this even at this price, because it's one of my all time top twenty or so. Edit 28 May 2013: now 65% off the price when review was written - at £7.25 I'd jump all over it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Lugosi and/or Karloff, 29 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
Anyone who enjoys the films of Lugosi and/or Karloff will love this. Whilst I have given it five stars it is not without flaws. At just over an hour the film manages to pack in a surprising amount, yet the plot was somewhat lacking. The films good (no, great) points more than make up for it's deficiencies though. I would have liked to have seen some of these great points expanded on, it's a pity that the film wasn't longer.
Karloff was really creepy when he first appeared, in a way that the cover of the DVD in no way does justice too.
When I get around to watching it again I will write a better review than this.
I don't imagine many people are going to be reading this review unless they are fans of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and or films of the 1930's in general (I'm all three): anyone who enjooys even one of those things will enjoy this.
I'm glad that I can watch films like this because so far this year there has been a pretty weak crop of films in the cinema...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weird and hypnotic creeper., 19 May 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Cat [1934] [DVD] (DVD)
The first, and arguably in terms of their dual performances, best teaming of Horror legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi is this almost bizarre Edgar G. Ulmer directed piece. Based around a story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat sees a young couple, Peter & Joan Allison {David Manners & Julie Bishop}, who while on their honeymoon in Budapest meet the mysterious scientist Dr. Vitus Verdegast {Lugosi}. When the bus taking them to the hotel crashes and Joan is injured, the trio wind up at the home of Verdegast's old acquaintance Hjalmar Poelzig {Karloff}. Where the troubled history between Verdegast and Poelzig comes to light and thus spells immense danger for the newly married Allison's.

Excellently directed by Ulmer, The Black Cat still today has the ability to genuinely unnerve the viewer. Filled with an overwhelming sense of dread throughout, Ulmer and his on form leading men have crafted a superb study of character evil. Flanked by a magnificent set design and with a script that does Poe proud, the piece pot boils until its brutal and frenzied climax. Karloff and Lugosi are particularly impressive {check out the chess match sequences}, lending the film its timeless quality, with Karloff's Poelzig apparently being based on real life occultist Aleister Crowley. While the music, featuring some of the biggest names of classical composition, is an extra haunting character all by itself. It's a far from flawless picture, but it remains a unique, literate and important film in the pantheon of classic horror. 7/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars black cat dvd, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: The Black Cat [DVD] (DVD)
From all the Karloff / Lugosi Universal films , this has to be the best
Acting from both excellent, with Karloff taking the bad boy role and Lugosi the good guy out for revenge.
The Art Decor of Polzigs Castle is excellent and the black & white film still holds up very well today.
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The Black Cat [1934] [DVD]
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