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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 4 June 2017
I can remember watching this on TV when I was a kid back in the 1980's as part of the BBC's horror double bill season & thought it was superb. Although this has very little to do with the Poe story it is a compelling tale centred around the two titans of Universal horror - Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi - who both give great performances. The other players also contribute greatly to the film, as does the art deco sets. Rated 15 in the UK, the ending is pretty shocking. Very good quality picture & sound, considering the film was made in 1934, in my opinion Horror's greatest decade.
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on 18 May 2017
Startling and macabre horror thriller from 1934, starring Universal's two horror icons, Karloff and Lugosi. Both are terrific here, Karloff especially unsettling and menacing. Vintage horror fans will find much to enjoy in this film, which I find quite different in tone to the better known, and very enjoyable, Universal monster movies of the period. I'd say this one shares some of the dream-like atmosphere of Karloff's earlier masterpiece, 'The Mummy' (1932). This film is beautifully lit and photographed, with striking imagery and set designs. I've watched it many times over the years and it's one of my favourites for a late night, old black and white horror treat. The film has a strange, offbeat feel and eerie atmosphere just perfect for late night viewing. My DVD copy (Altitude Film Distribution, 2013) was replacing an old US disc I had, and although the sound and picture quality are not restored to the level of the Universal legacy collections, both are fine for a DVD of a film from the period.
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on 5 August 2017
Stylish, slightly stilted but an intriguing watch.
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on 22 April 2016
Brilliant karlof Lugosi horrort thriller that puts these two masters of terror together in a film that includes murder, intrigue, romance, necromancy, necrophilia and sadistic torture. Great art deco settings that are full of atmospheric anticipation as a mad scientist and a griefing war hero go head to head . Directed by G. Ulmer with support actors, Jacqueline Wells and David Manners.
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on 14 April 2008
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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on 22 June 2013
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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on 17 April 2009
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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on 29 June 2012
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 May 2011
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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on 10 December 2011
It has nothing to do with Poe's story and very little to do with cats. It is instead a very dark horror film from 1934 directed and devised by German emigre Edgar Ulmer.

It is a film about war and what it does to people. It's about two men, played by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, whose souls died during the war yet their bodies survived, and now they are like living dead, in a mortal duel that pushes way beyond moral concerns.
Pain and suffering fills the film. The cruelty that Karloff has caused, the suffering Lugosi endured, the death of thousands in the great war including loved ones. Very little happens by today's standards yet the sense of evil grows, the oppressive sadism, Satanism and necrophilia.

It is a powerful piece of authentic horror. Visually it understands the disturbing power of suggestion, rather than the modern need to let the camera show us the gory details, and this leads us towards the psychological horror of Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton. Ulmer went on to direct Detour, one of the darkest film noirs ever made.
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