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Sunday, October 22, 2006


Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

The First World War left Europe deeply scarred and it's reverberations could still be felt fifteen years afterwards in 1934 with movies like "The Black Cat". The story involves an architect named Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff) whose flawed leadership in the war lead to the slaughter of thousands. After the war, instead of running from the scene of his atrocity, he uses his architectural skills to build a massive house in the Bauhaus style directly over the spot. Embracing the role of villain and reveling in morbidity, Poelzig has devoted himself to the black arts and keeps his dead wife on the premises in a glass coffin. One day this evil fucker gets a visit from one of his old comrades, Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi). Dr. Vitus has just spent fifteen years in the soul crushing hell of a Russian prison because of Poelzig and is making a friendly visit to clear a few things up. As you might surmise, revenge is on the menu and violence is inevitable. For the record, Lugosi was a veteran of the war himself and was wounded three times before his fighting days were over. Legend has it that he could really creep a person out with his ghastly war stories. Maybe this is why his performance in "The Black Cat" is so gripping. By the way, it should be noted that "The Black Cat" bears no resemblance to the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name that it's supposedly based on but that is of little consequence. Poe certainly would've approved of the dread and sadism on display here. This is essential viewing for all monster kids.


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