Tonight on MeTV- it's an eerie tale that's perfect for a dark winter's night- with Bela Lugosi facing off against Boris Karloff in a story of post-war pain, lost love, and even devil worship- leaving an innocent young couple caught as victims in more than one horrible scheme - in 1934's “The Black Cat”!
I always feel I should mention- this is not the Basil Rathbone/Broderick Crawford horror comedy from 1941, which also included Bela in a more minor role. This one has a far more sinister edge...
We meet a happy young couple, Peter and Joan, on their honeymoon, visiting Hungary- who are put in the uncomfortable position of having to share their train compartment with psychiatrist Dr. Vitus Werdegast, finally returning home after 15 years in a Siberian prison camp, having left his wife to go to war- and, sadly,never seeing her again. He is on his way to see an “old friend”, architect Hjalmar Poelzig, an eccentric architect with whom he has to settle "some old business". Poelzig lives in an old fortress amidst the rubble left after the war. That becomes the destination for all the compartment passengers, who, after leaving the train,end up involved in a bus crash, injuring the young bride- making a stop at Poelzig's necessary for medical attention.
In the odd Expressionistic interior of the former fort, Werdegast treats the newlywed woman, whom Poelzig shows an unhealthy interest in. The psychiatrist is unnerved by a black cat roaming the house, and takes action against it- supposedly due to his fear of animals... but there is so much more to fear in these confines! Werdegast gets down to his "business"-confronting Poelzig about his betrayal during the war, causing the loss of many lives- and, even more personal - accusing him of stealing his wife while he was imprisoned!
We get a look at a bizarre "collection" Poelzig maintains- as well as his companion with a sickening connection to the whole situation. We soon learn that Poelzig has plans for the young bride- and that the forthcoming dark of the moon is the planned time for satanic rituals -and that certain visitors have been marked to never leave the premises!
The look of this film is fascinating, especially the interior sets. Boris Karloff, as Poelzig, appears to have a “New Wave” look crossed with “Lost in Space”s Dr. Smith! But-no comedic cries for help or false bravado here-Karloff brilliantly plays a man - who is indeed a monster; and Bela, as Werdegast, gives a moving performance, showing passion , heart-break and fury. The ending has shock after shock- going in a direction it might not have been able to go after the Motion Picture Code governing content was established. Oh, and, once again- any connection to Edgar Allan Poe is strictly in name only!
We'll go over the cast,and some notes on the production- a commercial for a product suitable for any home with a black cat- get a walk-on from one of our viewers' favorite seasonal visitors- and - a bonus chunk of Sven segments to round out our airtime!
"The Black Cat" prowls onto MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, and, if unsure where and when to find us in your area, check local listings or at www.metv.com . Chicago area viewers get wrapped up one more time in "The Mummy's Curse" on WCIU, the U, at 11 am.
And- in the Chicago area- Sventa Claus makes his last 2017 public appearance today from 2 to 4 pm at the famed Fantasy Costumes store- 4065 N Milwaukee Avenue. Our last appearance had a line going out the door and down the block in a driving rain- even for those who took the bus- we're hoping for,at least, drier or, at the most, only slightly flaky conditions (the weather, not me). Regardless, you may want to get in line early! Sventa will pose for photos and sign autographs- and the word is, rubber chickens will be sold for signing. That's a perfect holiday gift for any Sven fan!
Stop by MeTV tonight- for horror's two titans and a terrifying tabby ( well, terrifying to Bela, anyway...)