The Black Cat

1934 horrific thriller

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Newlyweds wind up with a vengeful psychiatrist in the home of his enemy, an architect. And there's a cat.

From Wikipedia: "[The Black Cat] was also notable for being one of the first movies with an almost continuous movie score."

And that will grate on your nerves about as much as you expect it would.

I know the Edgar Allan Poe story but won't pretend to know it really well. Still, I'm fairly positive that this has nothing to do with Poe's short story other than having at least one cat and having something to do with revenge. As I recall, this is one of the 19 short stories that Poe wrote that had something to do with putting somebody behind a wall. This movie does have walls.

This movie suffers from a lot of what 1930's movies suffered from, including the aforementioned oppressive music score. The story is extremely choppy, so much that you almost want to ignore it and focus on the relationships with the characters instead. And although all of the performances portraying those characters are silly in that 1930's way, the two leads are at least entertainingly silly. Karloff has this weird lack of intensity that somehow works to create an intensity. There's something about the guy's stature and head shape that draws you to the guy. And Bela Lugosi gets some great lines to chew on, and I like how he pronounces every single word like it's the most important word you'll ever hear.

I think what I like about this movie is that it goes a lot of places without actually going to them. There's a lot of unspoken taboo here, and the movie's got some rewatchability as you put some psychological pieces together. At times, it seems like the makers of this just decided to throw a whole bunch in--Satanism, incest, ailurophobia--to see what stuck. It makes it all simultaneously befuddling and fascinating even when it's not very good.

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