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“Many men have gone there. Few have returned. I have returned. After fifteen years… I have returned.” Dr. Vitus Werdegast delivers this line with a grave determination that tells you he has vengeance on his mind. Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they witness Werdegast exact his gruesome revenge in The Black Cat (1934), a Universal production featuring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the first of their pairings.
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 67 – The Black Cat (1934)
American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.– IMDb
- Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
- Edgar Allan Poe (suggested by a story by) (credit only)
- Peter Ruric (screenplay)
- Edgar G. Ulmer (story)
- Music by Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)
- Costume Design by Edgar G. Ulmer (uncredited)
- Art Department: Edgar G. Ulmer – set designer (uncredited)
- Makeup Department: Jack P. Pierce – makeup artist (uncredited)
- Boris Karloff as Hjalmar Poelzig (billed as Karloff)
- Béla Lugosi as Dr. Vitus Werdegast
- David Manners as Peter Alison
- Julie Bishop (billed as Jacqueline Wells) as Joan Alison
- Egon Brecher as The Majordomo
- Harry Cording as Thamal
- Lucille Lund as Karen Werdegast
- John Carradine as Organist (uncredited)
Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” beside a title and the presence of the titular character. Your loyal Grue-Crew is astounded by the film’s subject matter which includes genocide, PTSD, satanic worship, human sacrifice, and skinning a person. Being the first of eight Lugosi and Karloff pairings, this episode’s crew also thinks it is the best. Joseph identifies another of Ulmer’s films as a personal favorite while Chad is enamored of Lugosi getting a chance to play a good guy, or at least not the worst guy. Jeff speculates on how the film’s release date just prior to full implementation of the Hays Code might have affected the plot.
If you haven’t seen The Black Cat, this episode’s co-hosts highly recommend you seek it out, either online or in Scream Factory’s Blu ray boxed-set that includes the film along with three other Universal pairings of Lugosi and Karloff.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era is part of the Decades of Horror 3-week rotation with the 1970s and 1980s. In three weeks, the next episode in their very flexible schedule will be The Revenge of the Creature (1955), from Universal and directed by Jack Arnold.
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