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The Black Cat [VHS] (1934)

Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , Edgar G. Ulmer  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Price: $19.95
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The Black Cat [VHS] + Tower of London [VHS] + Dracula's Daughter [VHS]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop, Egon Brecher
  • Directors: Edgar G. Ulmer
  • Format: Black & White, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • VHS Release Date: September 16, 1997
  • Run Time: 66 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302526191
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,695 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Edgar Ulmer's baroque masterpiece is the pinnacle of expressionism of Hollywood, a beautiful melding of gothic antiquity and modernity in the shadow of World War I. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff square off in their finest film together as decades-old nemeses who meet for a fateful showdown on the very battlefield where Karloff's devilish dark priest sacrificed his own army and framed Lugosi's good doctor for the crime. Karloff plays the most evil character of his career, a mesmerizingly demonic architect (inspired by the notorious real-life Satanist Aleister Crowley) who stole Lugosi's wife and daughter and built his shrinelike home, a stunning piece of Bauhaus-inspired glass and steel architecture, on the graves of his victims. His intensity and hypnotic understatement is a revelation, a genuine monster in human guise far more insidious and evil than the creatures of Universal's more famous horror classics. Lugosi delivers his finest performance ever as a Van Helsing-like hero whose simmering hatred and rage finally boils over into madness and sadistic revenge. A pair of silly American honeymooners become but two more pawns in their game of vengeance. John Mescall, who shot the gorgeous Bride of Frankenstein, beautifully delivers eerie unease and sinister imagery, from the Caligari-like black church of slanting beams and slashing shadows to the tomb of glass-lined caskets displaying victims held in suspended animation. One of the finest horror films to emerge from Universal's golden age of horror. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious film! July 22, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the very few films I've seen as a child that has haunted and fascinated me throughout my life. The other film being "Phantasm." Lugosi is wonderful as the tragic "good doctor." The sets are breathtaking, especially considering this film dates from 1934! The clever, psychologically twisted dialogue, and that infamous chess match between Karloff and Lugosi are unforgettable!
The most amazing aspect of this movie for me was the music. I had no idea just how much impact this film had on me until I was an adult... Classical pieces I'd heard in this movie would crop up giving me a tremendous sense of wonder and chills without my making the connection to this film! Beethoven's 7th Symphony--the sadly stirring second movement. Schumann's haunting Piano & Strings Quintet in E-Flat Major. But most especially, the glorious organ music of Bach. Karloff's playing the magnificent Toccata in D Minor. And the stately, haunting Adagio in C Major played throughout the Black Mass. Needless to say, I was inspired to learn to play the pipe organ in real life. I even lived for a time in Vienna, Austria to study classical music--imagine my surprise when I realized that this film took place in Austria! My graduation recital at Stanford University included Toccata in D Minor and that beautiful Adagio in C Major! I was smiling the entire time! Lugosi and Karloff would have been proud!
As you can see, this film has been amazingly inspirational in a subliminal way. Not that I'm out attending Satanic ceremonies or skinning people alive. But a good chess match stirs my blood, as does Bach's music. I'm not so sure these would have quite the same effect if I hadn't seen this film as an impressionable kid!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of the Macabre April 14, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
A story that finds a recently-released WW I prisoner of war, Dr. Vitus Werdegast, travelling by train to the eerie mountain-top home of his former commanding officer, Hjalmar Poelzig, who betrayed Werdegast and his comrades to the enemy army, subsequently marrying Werdegast's wife (whom he told died during the war) and, after killing her and preserving her body, marries Werdegast's daughter as well. Sworn on revenge, Werdegast brings fellow travellers Mr. and Mrs. Alison to Poelzig's home, a Caligariesque fortress which Poelzig designed, as he happens to be an architect when he's not too busy running his Satanic Cult from the depths of his house. The house, it seems, was built upon the ruins of the WW I fort Poelzig had commanded during the last years of the war, the very spot where tens of thousands of Poelzig's own men were murdered or taken prisoner of war thanks to his betrayal of them...
It is against this background that the two men, Poelzig and Werdegast, play out a living chess game against one another, using the young Mr. & Mrs. Alison as the stakes for a macabre ritual played out between the betrayer and the betrayed.
One of the very best of the Universal horror films,even though it can properly be regarded as *not* being what one would think of as a "horror film," this one is a must for any deep-thinking person who desires to understand the potential for extreme darkness the human soul can be capable of.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRULY CREEPY THRILLER. August 27, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This bizarre, ingeniously fascinating little film offers the first and by far the most effective pairing of Karloff and Lugosi. Young newlyweds en route to Budapest for their honeymoon. They meet Lugosi on a train in Austria. When the trio transfer for a bus ride, the coach crashes and the young couple are invited to spend the night in Karloff's modernistic art-deco mansion...Though the plotting at times and the motivations of the characters get somewhat confused, the film has an overwhelming sense of uneasiness, eroticism, and horror to it which infuses most every shot. The magnificent sets, brilliantly fluid camera work and stunning performances by both Karloff and Lugosi give the film an almost timeless quality. Karloff's character was reportedly based on the infamously hedonistic Aleister Crowley. The musical score is also extremely effective: the score is derived from classical pieces written by Tschaikovsky, List and Schumann which give the film an added sense of mystery and suspence. Director Ulmer had worked with the classic German expressionist filmmakers in the 1920's and the influence is very evident: it's a classic horror masterpiece well worth seeing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Psychological Thriller September 30, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Bella Lugosi and Boris Karloff team up into the psychological thriller "The Black Cat." Bela lugos plays a mysterious character named Dr. Vitus Verdegast, who has an interesting past. David Manners and Julie Bishop play a young couple on their way to a nice vacation. When these three passengers on a bus get into a accident. The three are led to the friend of Dr. Verdegast, Hjalmar Poelzig who is played by Boris Karloff. A bitter hatred is discovered between these to once friends. Hjalmar is discovered to be a priest in a satanic cult who has evil plans for his new guests. The atmosphere of the movie is a mix of classic horror and Art Deco. It's held to this atmosphere with terrific lighting and great sets. The mansion was filled with sharp edges and rounded circular objects. Also a spiral-staircase to the dungeon like rooms below was installed to give it homage to classic horror. Costumes were also very well done giving Mr. Poelzig a very intriguing look of mystery. This dialog was most important and well done to incite fear and suspense in to the film. Lugosi does a great job showing the unusual psyche of his characters fear of cats and his scheming mind. Karloff's character was well portrayed as an evil satanic priest who kills without a thought of even ones he loves. Overall the movie is a great psychological thriller that is very intriguing and pokes at your thoughts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Deco mania
As a horror movie it suffers from a ridiculous plot. A traitorous architect (Karloff) builds a house over the ruins of a fort he betrayed, and turns to Devil worship. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Sebastian Melmoth
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant.
Bela Lugosi playing a doctor, as the tortured & shell shocked victim of a satanically depraved Boris Karloff, playing an architect; to me, the best of the Universal horror films.
Published 11 days ago by halbregg
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong movie
Not the Black Cat movie I was looking for. There's another old movie called Black Cat, which is not this movie. Read more
Published 16 days ago by montymom
4.0 out of 5 stars The creepiest movie of all time?
Even today eighty years after it was released TBC still shocks and makes for some memorably uncomfortable viewing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Could be turned into a vidio game.
It appears that Amazon will never leave me alone until I rate this one.

So if you take away the necrophilia, the human flailing, and incest you're pretty much left with... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ernest A. Finocchio
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult film personified!!
Love this movie. So fascinating to see the "manor" that Boris Karloff 's character designed and built. Shadows, secret walls, modern creations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Karen L. Brandt
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Boris Karloff movies
I've been a fan of Boris Karloff horror movies for over 50 yrs. This is worth watching again and again.
Published 5 months ago by Michelle Margaitis
5.0 out of 5 stars KARLOFF and BELA LUGOSI
Their first and greatest teaming. This movie has a vibe of its own. Edgar G. Ulmer brought out the best in both of them. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Louis J. Pacifico
Just my own dislike of wide-sceen format, with its noticeable distortions (e.g. the Universal globe icon; the shape of heads) and its Band-aid-strip version of reality, disinclines... Read more
Published 7 months ago by CV
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, great film!!!
This film is amazing!!!!! Best movie ever!!! The packing was perfect and it made a great present for my party! Thanks so much!!!
Published 8 months ago by B. Bozell
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