DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,
DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE
dblackthorne

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The Black Cat

The Black Cat
1934 c.e. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, David Manners, Julie Bishop; Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

The Black CatA newly-wed couple are on their way to a honeymoon when they meet a mysterious man on a train {Lugosi portrays "Vitus Werdegast"} who regails them with local tales of intrigue and superstition, weaving them in his spell all the while - who, unbeknownst to the honeymooners, is himself on his way to confront his arch-nemesis, whom once upon a time betrayed him, thus resulting in his unjust imprisonment. Eventually, they find themselves accompanying him to a mansion in the Austrian hillsides where they meet with the elegant, though 'strange' "Hjalmar Poelzig" {Karloff} who turns out to be the High Priest of a Satanic group, who were just awaiting a suitable 'sacrifice' for the night's rites - and they find her in the betrothed writer's wife.

The mansion itself is situated above a military fortress, and the Ritual Chamber is designed to gothic-modernist standards with sharp angles and shard-like projections which makes for quite an impressive spectacle. Nefarious situations begin manifesting when Lugosi is horrified by a sleek black cat who slinks into the room, at which he tosses a knife {the cat may have been a demon in feline form}. Ironically, Lugosi plays a rather "VanHelsing"-like character who must battle the sinister minister Poelzig {said to have been partly modeled after Aleister Crowley, and that of German Schauerfilm architect Hans Poelzig} for the life of the girl; Now, the Lugosi character would have probably included these two as part of his revenge, considering they were basically pauns in the overall scheme, though as demonstrated, he caresses her hair as she slept in rememberance of his deceased wife, which is why he rescinded. Eventually, his own dark side is displayed when he initiates a sadistic plan to skin his opponent while tied, crucifix-style. He finally decides to end the entire decades-long battle by exploding the entire house with dynamite which had been previously arranged about the grounds. The helpless honeymooners eventually escape and embark upon a train to get as far away from there as possible, with the ending scene of the writer and his little wife observing a review of one of his stories based upon the experience, to which it is claimed that it is far too fictional...

The Black Cat featured the first-ever production in which horror giants Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff act together, and their rapport is quite engaging - the stage presence is tangible even through the screen. It was filmed in one of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses, which according to director Edgar G. Ulmer, contained an asylum's embience. This film is more psychological in nature, with an elegant deportment which is most befitting;

According to Dr. LaVey:

"The Black Cat and The Seventh Victim are certainly two pre-Church of Satan movies I would consider worthwhile examples of the way true Satanists behave.”

- The Secret Life of A Satanist; Barton.
I fully concur - for they are indeed exemplary in etiquette and aesthetics.

Rating: 5/5.

{Credits: Special thanks to Magister Rose and Reverend Svengali for their contributions to this review].

Sources:

* Early Deviltry
* Church of Satan Video List
* Also mentioned in the "Satanic Cinema" chapter in Magistra Barton's book: "The Church of Satan".
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