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
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Made in 1934 by the then 30 year old Director Edgar Ulmer and with the stunning set design by Charles D. Hall the film paired Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for the first time together on the screen. This was to cement the two icons together in a screen partnership that would last for several years.
Set in the modern house of Hjalmar Poelzig (no creepy old castle's here) whose home is one of the most stunning modern houses of our time this is a dark story about Devil worship. Poelzig has a room set aside for his evil black masses and has a penchant for the ladies, but only when they are being put to the devil's business. Into this walks a young couple who due to circumstances out of their control end up having to stay the night at his home. They arrive with Dr.Verdegast (Lugosi) who is returning after a absence of many years to settle some unfinished business with his old friend. This is the set up for an explosive encounter between the two into which the young honeymooning couple are thrown.
Truly a masterpiece it should be viewed over and over again.
Watch out for the finale Black Mass in which Karloff spout's authentic sounding incantation's to raise the Devil, he says Latin phrases "Cave Canium" (Beware of the Dog), "In Vito Veritas" (In Wine there if truth) and Cum Grano Salis (with a grain of salt). I could'nt put it better myself.
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