Every weekend we're watching movies together...whether you're in Pennsylvania USA, or Sydney Australia. It's a throwback! Back to the days when you had the anticipation for waiting till the weekend to see the classic horror or science fiction film that was listed in the TV Guide. The plan is to watch a movie at 7:30PM on Saturday night in your own time zone. Or, if you can't Saturday night...anytime during the weekend. Then, we'll all get together and e-mail our thoughts on the film...a few paragraphs...or simply a sentence if you'd like. They after-viewing reviews appear on our Creepy Classics/Monster Bash News Page. See the latest thoughts posted by viewers ther now.

Concept submitted by Mike Adams of Carteret, New Jeresey.

Don't have the movie of the week? Order it right now from Creepy Classics for fast delivery!

You can see comments from past movies from viewers by clicking on their title.

Back to Shopping

Creepy Classics TV Movie This Last Weekend: THE BLACK CAT (1934) Fan Comments:

Every week, readers here are selecting a movie to view...then we all try to watch it together utilizing our DVD/video library. This past Saturday night, many of us watched THE BLACK CAT (1934). This was suggested by Kevin Slick of Colorado. Details about movie nights to come are HERE.

I was at the CineFest Convention in Syracuse, NY over this past weekend...and dutifully took my personal copy of THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION from Universal that features THE BLACK CAT (1934). I had it running at our Creepy Classics booth at 7:30PM on Saturday night. A few of my notations (I could probably write a book about the weirdness of this selection!):

This is one of the strangest, and most unsavory in theme, of the entire classic horror Universal library. You have Boris Karloff, a wife stealer, who perserves the woman's body (she had an...untimely death) in glass like a trophy, he sleeps with the daughter he had with her (oh, my gosh!), and has devil worshipping going on in the basement. This is one messed up house...sounds like a reality show.

It features some of the nuttiest lines too: "....even the dead." (That one from Karloff). From Lugosi we get "Supernatural perhaps....balogna...perhaps NOT!" And, both have a field day in some great acting. This might be one of Bela Lugosi's best displays of his acting ability on film.

Lastly, from me, I've never understood one element in the story. Perhaps, you reading, can enlighten me. I don't get the motavation of Bela's servant switching alliance to Karloff at Lugosi's request. Why did Lugosi do this? The only thing I can think of is that it was part of the gambling deal with a chess game that Lugosi and Karloff had. I've seen this film maybe a dozen times over 40 years and have never quite understood that motavation...of course, I could just be thick as a brick. The servent reverts back his allegience to Bela for the finale. -Ron Adams, Ligonier, PA

There's so much I enjoy about this film it's hard to know where to start.
It even opens with my favorite version of the Universal logo, the plane
flying around the world, of course in scale the plane would be the size of
Brazil and if it's "universal" why not show the universe? but I digress.
I think Karloff and Lugosi are both at the top of their game in this film.
They both look great, they have interesting characters and they play off
each other fantastically. I especially love their little barbs tossed
back and forth when David Manners intrudes on their re-hashing of old war
stories. I saw on the email list that at least one Basher found this too
creepy to watch, and I can't blame him. It is creepy! The whole satanic
element is truly scary. This is not some monster who, through no fault of
his own, is tearing around the countryside. These are people who have
chosen to be evil, to worship evil. I was scared by this kind of movie as
a kid and it's still a fairly terrifying thought now.

Karloff is wonderful as the master of ceremonies in the "dark of the moon" gathering.
The whole ritual is so weird and whatever language he's speaking sounds
so sinister. Of course Bach's Tocotta and Fuguge in Dm makes an
appearance, just wondering, when DID that piece of music come to symbolize
evil? It always works though. I think it's interesting to think of the
story line in the context of it's time. The two characters are both
shattered men, as Karloff suggests in his monologue at one point. I
wonder if audiences today appreciate the impact of World War One, here
just called "The War". Many people felt that the world had shifted
dramatically after that conflict. The old rules, and social order no
longer applied and everything was turned upside down. Herr Polzig's house
seems to be a reflection of this strange new world, it's art deco and
modernist to the extreme. And yet it's creator is still living very much
in the world of the past. Like many of the films from this era there are
things I get a chuckle or a smile out of when I watch them now. Karloff
lying down in bed (with a beautiful woman beside him) and doing a little
light nighttime reading about the "Rites of Lucifer" always seems a little
funny and of course one of the greatest silly lines in history -
"Supernatural perhaps, boloney, perhaps not".
Something I wondered about this time - who are all those other women he
has in glass cases? all former wives? he's been a busy guy if that's the

To my mind, these Universals are excellent little gems of movie making.
The acting is fine, the sets look great - how about the use of shadows
with the back lit walls? the plot ticks along quickly, there's no wasted
moments. I love a good long movie - one of my all time favorites
Intolerance is well over three hours but I really appreciate a well told
film that clocks in at around 80 minutes as many of these mid-thirties
Universals do. You've got Karloff, Lugosi, women in glass cases, a car
crash, cat killing, and goofy policemen, what more could you want?

By the way, I did watch this with one of my cats, Garbo (not black but a tabby)
and as far as I can tell she liked it too. -Kevin Slick, Colorado

This is one of Universal's best-looking horror's a pity that Edgar G. Ulmer didn't work on more of them (but let's not gossip).

The Black Cat was the first Boris Karloff / Bela Lugosi team-up and the only one in which they are evenly matched.  Lugosi had the dominant role in The Raven; Karloff had the dominant role in The Invisible Ray; and both would be side-lined in Black Friday. 

(In Son of Frankenstein they are balanced by Basil Rathbone and Lionel Atwill.)

A weakness of the story is that Lugosi's supposedly vengeful Dr. Vitus Werdegast becomes strangely passive for the middle third of the picture, a carry-over from an earlier draft of the script.

Also...where is Poelzig's Satanic Cult while their leader is being skinned alive?  They simply disappear when their story function has been fulfilled.

It is common knowledge that John Carradine plays one of the cultists.  But did you notice that Michael Mark also plays one of the devil worshipers?  Michael Mark was a familiar figure in the Frankenstein franchise, playing Maria's father Ludwig in the original...Neumueller, one of the jurors murdered by the monster in Son of Frankenstein...a councilman in Ghost of Frankenstein...and Frederick Strauss, the "garrulous gentleman" in House of Frankenstein whose brain is removed by Dr. Niemann to make room for the brain of the Wolf Man.  In his last sci-fi picture, Michael Mark got to play a mad scientist himself, in Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman.

Mark Ditoro
Moon Township, PA

It was good to visit this old friend of a movie after not seeing it for so long.
Bela Lugosi is terrific as a man who has a score to settle with his arch enemy played by Boris Karloff. David Manners and lovely Julie Bishop are the young couple caught in between them.

Karloff is a devil worshipper who lives in a magnificent house built on top of a WW1 fort. The sets are awesome and so is this entire movie.

The skinning alive of Karloff by Lugosi is still something very creepy even thought nothing is shown, it is all implied and works to great measure thanks to the brilliant direction of Edgar Ulmer.
Great film and highly underrated.

-Kevin Coon, Twin Falls, ID

The Black Cat is a film which should lay to rest the eternal question of who is the better actor: Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. The answer is both when given the right part.

The Black Cat is the first of the Karloff/Lugosi team-ups. It is the only time in their career where they were equal in character interest. After this film, one would occupy the dominate role while the other would take the subordinate. At the beginning of the film one is first struck with the names. Bela Lugosi is Dr. Vitus Werdegast and Boris Karloff as Hjalmar Poelzig. These are fantastic names. They have enough character and soul to stand up on their own. There is also the distinct pleasure of having the two actors pronounce each other's names.
Anybody who is a Universal horror movie fan knows of the rumors of Bela Lugosi's supposed dislike of Boris Karloff or vice versa. There is a scene in the film which should dispel that rumor. Dr. Vitus Werdegast has a mission. He has been imprisoned and wants to know what happened to his wife and daughter. He believes that Hjalmar Poelzig knows of their fate. Werdegast, while staying in Poelzig's home, confronts him about his wife and daughter. Poelzig brings him to his wife. Poelzig has his past wives preserved in up-right see-through human tanks. Werdegast's wife is his latest installment. Poelzig says that Werdegast's wife passed away two years after the war. In a great close-up we see the anguish in Werdegast's face as he asks about the fate of his daughter. Poelzig says that she is dead. Werdegast looks at his wife and asks "And why is she...why is this?" Poelzig answers, "Is she not beautiful. I wanted to have her beauty, always. I loved her too, Vitus." It's a great scene handled by unselfish actors. The scene, with all it's outlandish acoutrements, could have been played over the top. As it stands, however, it is, I think, the best scene these two actors have done together. As far as the rumor goes, nothing dispels it faster than having a great part and knowing it. In this case each of them had a great part and knew it.

The Black Cat is a strange, beautiful, and poetic film. It is, I feel, one of the best films of the Universal horror cycle of the thirties because it put it's two best actors on a level playing field. Before I go, I'll leave you with this bit of wisdom dispensed early in the film by Dr. Vitus Werdegast, "It's better to be frightened, then to be crushed."
Kirk Smith
Manito, Illinois

Well I guess I've sat in the shadows long enough without writing a comment or two on the Saturday Night Movie. The Black Cat was a fine choice from Kevin Slick, so why not start with this one. As always it was a delight to see the two kings of horror (they were equal in my book) share the screen. This is certainly a movie that would not have seen the light of day after 1935. The whole Karloff-Lugosi's wife and daughter thing is just sick beyond words. Karloff deserved worse than flaying just for that alone. Granted, he did have a killer hair cut and some real slick pj's, but his character was just so out of line. Lugosi definitely shines as the true hero of the movie. But next to Karloff's villain, I think Lugosi as Ygor could look like a hero. However, Bela's choice of vengeance definitely shows that he wasn't exactly a balanced man.

To answer your question about Lugosi's servant's change in loyalty Ron, I imagine he was planted as a secret weapon when the time arose for Lugosi to strike. Not a bad idea either, it did work out well in the end. That was one nasty looking stranglehold he had Karloff in. I love Boris' facial expression when he gets grabbed from behind. Also, I love when Bela says "you and your rotten cult" as he brings them all to a fitting end. This was a typical early 30's gem that has it's typical slow start that leads to a manic conclusion. The early 30's allowed elements into movies that really made them stand out. There were so many plots that would have suffered had certain moments and lines been censored. This movie is one of them. Let's hear it for those lenient censors, and for Mr. Slick for his fine choice. Until Saturday well my fellow viewers.

Michael Adams, Carteret, NJ

I too have wondered about Thamal, Lugosi's servant, taking orders from
Karloff. Why does Lugosi tell him to do this? One thought is that Lugosi
is hoping to gain more information from Karloff and wants to keep things
going longer? That doesn't really make sense, maybe a missing scene
provides the clue? Is he wanting to lull Karloff into s false sense of
security for some reason? Why doesn't he just shoot him right off the bat?
The chess game is interesting, kind of like the scene in The Seventh Seal
where the knight plays chess with Death. Karloff is supremely evil in
this film, it's as if he's really the devil himself. He seems to enjoy
the whole game, especially when he says "Even the phone is dead"
-Kevin Slick, Colorado

Hi Ron,
In response to your question about why Lugosi’s servant is commanded to obey Karloff, the reasoning Lugosi gives the servant is that there are “innocents in the house” and until they are safe, both must play along. He later tells Joan Allison something similar, only now indicating he too must do Karloff’s will until “the time is right”. That time comes when the mysterious blond woman screams for apparently no reason during the satanic ceremony, giving Lugosi and his servant time to rescue Joan. No it still makes no sense seeing the servant was willing to dispatch Karloff early on and I fail to see how his demise would have adversely affected “the innocents”. But heck, then there would not have been much of a movie!

Universal capitalized on their two biggest horror stars by echoing their most famous incarnations. Karloff’s first scene is in shadow, and from the look of it, his head is flat, and his first step a lumbering one! One expects Frankenstein’s Monster to emerge! Lugosi, while not in evening clothes or cape, nonetheless exudes the subdued menace of the evil count; even though he is more or less the hero of the story. No doubt his years in a soul-killing prison have not done his mental state much good.

Both move quickly past any luggage from their popular roles and take on the characters of Vitus and Hjalmar with the relish one would expect from two excellent actors in their prime. The tension between them is palpable; with Lugosi dominating his scenes with the righteous indignation of a man horribly wronged. My only issue with his character is the whole black cat phobia. Given it’s inclusion the only real reason to call the movie “The Black Cat” it nonetheless takes me, personally, out of the mood when he skewers it first with a knife, and then later falls through a window\glass partition at it’s re-appearance.

David Manners proves why he was such a well paid leading man. His Peter Allison is 100% believable and a far cry from his wooden portrayal of Jonathan Harker in “Dracula”. Julie Bishop is charming as his adoring new wife. Their early scene in the train when they banter about the dreadful food served at the wedding is instantly endearing. Then later, when she is awoken by the scream of the dying cat, and under the influence of a narcotic, she exudes just a slight yet clearly present air of menace. I thought of one of Dracula’s brides as she glided across the floor towards Karloff.

The rest of the cast is comprised of the usual good group of Universal extras (look quick and you’ll see Little Maria’s father as one of the Satan worshipers). Really not a bad apple among the bunch!
Though I still have to wonder, as you wondered about the servant, just what that blond woman was screaming about!! Oh and one other question… just what the heck was that big ball made of that was loaded into the kitchen during the opening scenes at the train station???
Paul Tait, Peabody, MA

Above: On the set of THE BLACK CAT (1934).

Hey Ron-
I'm pretty sure Bela tells his servant to pretend to be on Karloff's side to make him think he has the advantage-- Lugosi says something along those lines just prior to the switch.
I think the idea of the group watch a long is great-- it's like Shock Theater is back.
Black Cat was great-- this is one of my favorites-- perfect music, creepy and just downright out there-- David Manners is hilarious, possibly the least testosterone in any action hero in American cinema.

Scary house-- wife sleeping down the hall by herself, but he sleeps next to Lugosi with the adjoining door left open for him!
Keep 'em coming. Looking forward to Mark of the Vampire.
Andy Fish, Worcester, MA
Freelance Artist For Hire
Cell Phone 508.208.4707
Studio Phone 508.208.3019

To answer, why Bela told his servant, to serve Boris Karloff. Bela was waiting for the right time, to catch all the people from the devil cult and Karloff's servants, and then do away with them. He had to wait, until the dark of the moon, for all the idiots to congregate into one place. Then he and his servant could stop the insanity by killing them all at one time in one convenient place. That is if he did not see any more black cats and blow it.
Herb S., Everett, WA

This is probably my fourth viewing of this classic.
I love the Universal logo with the airplane, signs of a creepy classic on the way!
Going for sport? Perhaps...I go to visit an old friend. Revenge as sport!!!
Creepy obsession with Bela...I beg your indulgence... I would have punched him out.
What a cool house, I love art deco!!!
I guess this was pre code, as Karloff is sleeping in the same bed, WITH BELA`S DAUGHTER!!!
Boris looks more evil here than he ever did as a monster.
Great shot when the young couple kiss, and Boris grabs the statue.
Those creepy wives under glass, Boris, and you call Bela mad?
Tocatta in D Minor by Bach - Evil in music.
cool closeups of the devil worshippers. Ulmer was a true artist!
The Black Cat, a true original. It seems fresh every time because as far as I know, it has never been copied, like so many other classics that we love.
As for the servant, Dr. Vitus tells him they have to be careful so they won´t set off the dynamite, that he will serve Boris as they bide their time. He later tells Joan that he is doing his bidding till the time is right. I think the motivation is to win his trust so they will be allowed to the ceremony and the dungeon. When the time was right, they turn against him and enact their revenge.
-Ken Blose, Mexico

I agree this is probably Lugosi and Karloff's best movie together. But there is one thing that has been bothering me about the DVD. When I first saw this movie as a kid back in the seventies, on Creature Feature NYC, Lugosi's servant throws a knife and kills one of the female Satanist during the devil worship scene. He does this to create a diversion so Lugosi can save the young couple. But on the DVD we just see him throw the knife and the next scene is of everyone standing over the body with no idea of what has just happen. Does anybody else remember that scene? Also I would to suggest a couple of movies for future Saturday night viewings. How about either Curse of the Demon or the Hideous Sun Demon. Both these movies were staples of Chiller Theater NYC back in the sixties and seventies. Love the web site.
Bob Swaney
Manalapan, NJ

Hey Ron and all Fellow Die-Hard Horror/Sci-Fi Synchmasters and Writers out there, you didn`t think that I fell asleep at the wheel when it came to writing my review/commentary about this ultimate Universal classic starring the two titans of terror: Boris Karloff (here billed as simply Karloff!) and Bela Lugosi (who easily equals Boris in acting accolades here!) DID YOU!!?? So sorry about the delay folks!....So, here goes!... Giving all due credit to the supporting cast in this film: "Dracula`s" (1931) and the "Mummy`s" (1932) David Manners, Jacqueline Wells (whose real name was Julie Bishop!) --{by the way folks, she starred in the classic western "Sands Of Iwo Jima" (1949) with John Wayne {and with the sci-fi/horror genre veterans John Agar, Forrest Tucker, Arthur Franz and Richard Jaeckel}, Lucille Lund (who appears unbilled as "Daisy" in the classic Three Stooges Curly short feature "Three Dumb Clucks" {1937} and the rest of the able cast THIS is DEFINITELY Boris`s and Bela`s show! (and boy, do they ever give one hellava performance in this battle of good vs. evil!

----Has Boris Karloff ever given a performance that reeked more of deranged and corrupt TOTAL EVIL than as Hgalmar Poelzig in this film during the span of the rest of his long cinematic career?....If anyone can find one, let me know,folks!......(The look he gives to the drowsy/sleeping Jean Alison speaks volumes about his cruel character and of his ultimate intentions for her future.......) That being said, Bela`s character (Dr. Vitus Werdegast) is not exactly a SHINING EXAMPLE of KINDNESS in this film either! Although we understand his bitterness and anger about his wife and daughter being kidnapped by Poelzig and about the cruelness and death of war, he sure does exhibit an EXTREME amount of CRUELNESS to his tormentor when he discovers that his wife was murdered and preserved in a glass case and then, later ....his daughter killed as well. The scene when Vitus and his assistant fight with, corral, and capture Poelzig and Vitus chains him up and then skins him alive!! (He says to Poelzig: "Did You Ever See An Animal Skinned?" "That`s What I`m Going To Do To You Now" "Bit By Bit" "Bit By Bit" ) is QUITE BRUTAL. AND VERY VIOLENT IN IT`S IMPLICATIONS (ESPECIALLY FOR THE TIME THIS FILM CAME OUT).

Due to the fact of this film being released by Universal in 1934 and because of the intense (and very unsettling) nature of the overall subject matter of this film {The discovery and demise of an Satan-Worshipping Devil Cult) and of several key scenes in this film being extremely graphic for it`s time, the film censors (particularly in Great Britain) had a MAJOR MELTDOWN when it came to this movie....AND with horror films in general being released to the general public overseas... Basically, this was "THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL`S BACK" so to speak- and for a long time. horror films were banned overseas- from the Universal era to director Michael Powell`s "Peeping Tom" (1960) to the nasty, gory slasher films of the late 1970`s and early 1980`s. Thus, not only is this an excellent and very important horror film from a story (and acting) standpoint BUT even more importantly, from an HISTORICAL standpoint!!! That being said folks, it should be noted that this film is not really based on EDGAR ALLAN POE!!!....anyone who has ever read "The Black Cat" KNOWS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT!!!! ---The only thing used from his famous story is the title of this film!!!! And with that being said, I bid all of you "A GOOD E-V-E-N-I-N-G" (Until next week`s movie write-up that is!.....)

-Dan Brenneis- Monster Bash Staff Member and Lifetime FilmFan Extroadinairre.

Get THE BLACK CAT (1934), along with MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932), BLACK FRIDAY (1940), THE RAVEN (1935), and THE INVISIBLE RAY (1937) on THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION at Creepy Classics!

Back To Creepy Classics


Creepy Classics Video
P.O. Box 23, Ligonier, PA 15658
Phone: (724) 238-4317