Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE BLACK CAT features the dynamic duo of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The film has only a distant relation to the classic tale of Edgar Allan Poe, but fascinating nonetheless. Karloff stars as the villain--the screenwriter loosely based the character of Poelzig on the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley (--as in Crow-lee). There are also parallels to the rise of totalitarianism in 30's Europe: Dr. Werdegast (Lugosi) has spent 15 years in a concentration camp. Poelzig is the personal nemesis of Dr. Werdegast--Poelzig's actions resulted in Werdegast's incarceration. The two meet again when Werdegast and others are involved in a bus accident in Hungary one dark gothic night, and Werdegast unwittingly brings an injured femme to....Poelzig's Hungarian castle! Then Dr. Werdegast must match wits with Karloff to save the young lady's life, before Poelzig uses her in a ........infernal ritual. Ghastly!.

Do you chess with me.....for her? Bwahbwahbwahbwahbwah....

This movie features one particularly unsavory spectacle--one of the goriest scenes captured on film at the time. The audience doesn't actually see anything too bloody, however. Lugosi overpowers Karloff (SPOILERS, as they say) and straps him to a cross on Karloff's black mass altar--intended for the injured young lady. Yikes! Picking up a scalpel, Dr. Werdegast smiles at Karloff and utters: "There's more than one way to skin a cat." He then proceeds to skin him alive, although the entire scene is silohouetted against a wall, with screams and eerie soundtrack. Superb Hell-o-ween Phamily fare.

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