Edgar G. Ulmer's only big-studio classic was this 1934 horror parable about the deadening effects of the Great War. "The Black Cat" is a heady brew of Satanic schemes and Freudian desires, starring Boris Karloff as Austria's most celebrated engineer and Bela Lugosi as Hungary's most renowned psychiatrist. Decades before Ingmar Bergman made Death and Max Von Sydow take up chess, Karloff and Lugosi play the game for blood in a bizarre Bauhaus-Expressionist-Deco mansion that Karloff has built figuratively on the rubble of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and literally atop a graveyard. Add a row of beauties in suspended animation and a Black Mass culled from a Latin phrase book, and you've got one spectacle of terror that raises hair right down to the follicles.
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