The Black Cat (1934)

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American honeymooners in Hungary are trapped in the home of a Satan- worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.



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Complete credited cast:
Hjalmar Poelzig (as Karloff)
David Manners ...
Julie Bishop ...
Joan Alison (as Jacqueline Wells)
Egon Brecher ...
The Majordomo
Harry Cording ...
Lucille Lund ...
Henry Armetta ...
The Sergeant
Albert Conti ...
The Lieutenant


Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life. Written by Sister Grimm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most imaginative picture yet! (Newspaper ad cut). See more »


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Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

7 May 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Vanishing Body  »

Box Office


$95,745 (estimated)


$236,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Part of the original Shock Theater package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later with SON OF SHOCK, which added 20 more features. See more »


"And this is the old chart room for the long-range guns. The guns are gone but the charts are still here." As Poelzig speaks these words, his mouth is not moving. See more »


[first lines]
The Lieutenant: [looking over Joan's passport] Mr. and Mrs. Alison, Car 96, Compartment F. Orient Express, Budapest, Visegrad.
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Referenced in Pizza (2014) See more »


Symphony no. 8 (Unfinished)
Music by Franz Schubert
Heard on radio in film
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Slick, spooky fun
18 September 2004 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

There's a lot of story to tell in about 65 minutes, so this movie could be considered perhaps a bit incoherent. But the larger themes -- revenge, lust and innocents caught in the grip of forces beyond their sheltered experience -- have been central themes in horror tales for centuries.

Karloff is a delight as usual, and there are many fine details to his performance -- including a brief but outrageously lustful stare at the half-dressed young wife of the innocent couple and the strangely gentle way his brutal character handles a cat. (Nice tall, dark and handsome kitty in the title role, for the cat people.)

And this movie also shows once again that Bela Lugosi was a better actor than he ever got credit for. He handles his overwrought dialogue with taste and good cheer, and he's a marvel. And he even gets to speak a few rare lines of Hungarian here.

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