Hollywood Gothique
The Vault

Friday Cat Blogging: The Black Cat (1934)

Much as Maya the Devil Cat and her cohorts in kitty crime (Danny and Gizmo) enjoy the fame of seeing themselves blogged each week, I thought it might be fun, for a change, to blog about horror films that feature cats.

The Black Cat is a guest star in his own film

The natural and obvious first choice is, of course, THE BLACK CAT (1934), which takes its title from the story by Edgar Allan Poe. The movie’s plot has little to do with the original story, and the title character isn’t actually on screen that much, but the film does have a decidedly Poe-esque atmosphere. It is also notable for being the first of several to star both Boris Karloff (FRANKENSTEIN) and Bela Lugosi (Dracula) — in what amount to a clash of the terror titans on screen.

Karloff is a Satanist, and Lugosi is the man he betrayed back in the first World War, who returns seeking revenge. Unfortunately, Lugosi’s intense fear of cats stays his hand, giving Karloff the opportunity to perpetrate further evil upon a young honeymooning couple who have stumbled into the middle of this blood feud.

Boris Karloff with the title character
Boris Karloff with the title character

It’s all very weird, perverse and very strange; for example, Karloff keeps his ex-wives preserved under glass in the basement! Because it is without monsters or even much conventional suspense, I found it incredibly boring when I was a young kid. As an adult, I now think it is one of the masterpieces of the genre, thanks to the atmosphere and the melodrama of the conflict between the two characters. Unfortunately, the film is not out on DVD, but you can find it on videotape. I highly recommend you check it out.