Edgar G. Ulmer’s Film The Black Cat: An Eighty-Year Retrospective
Keywords:Keywords, Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat, 1930s horror films.
AbstractDirector Edgar G. Ulmer’s film The Black Cat was a rare achievement in American horror cinema when released in 1934. Some eighty years afterwards in 2014 The Black Cat warrants revisiting as one of the most unique and revered horror films ever made. The Black Cat is German expressionist in character, perverse and morbid, portraying the post World War I gothic mind of Europe. The film encompasses the rage and revenge of that war with motifs of murder, narcotics, torture, necrophilia, incest, and Satanic rituals; all of which are witnessed by a young America couple who have innocently traveled into a nightmarish tragedy. Rarely has a film like The Black Cat so captured the mood of horror blended with an intellectual narrative, unique acting, modernist settings, and classical music. Paul A. Cantor said “The Black Cat was a triumph for Ulmer; many consider it one of the most sophisticated and powerful horror stories ever made” (p. 142). Years later The Black Cat would be characterized as an “art film,” and even “read as a piece of intellectual cinema” (Schwaab, p. 46).
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