The Black Cat (1934)

66m 57s
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, English

An American horror film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

Plot Summary

A honeymooning couple, Joan and Peter Alison, and a doctor, Vitus Werdegast, find themselves stranded and seek refuge in the imposing home of satanic cult leader Hjalmar Poelzig. In World War I, Poelzig had betrayed Werdegast, leading to him being imprisoned, and Werdegast has been plotting his , hoping that he will soon be reunited with the wife and daughter that Poelzig stole from him. Poelzig plans to sacrifice Joan in a ritual and its up to Werdegast to safe her and survive the bizarre games played by his rival…


Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer
Copyright MCMXXIV [1934] by Universal Pictures Corporation, Carl Laemmle, president
A Universal picture. Carl Laemmle presents
Producer: Carl Laemmle *
Associate Producer: E.M. Asher *
Screenplay: Peter Ruric
Story: Edgar G. Ulmer, Peter Ruric
Suggested by the Edgar Allan Poe classic
Additional Dialogue: Shirley Kassel *
Camera: John J. Mescall
Film Editor: Ray Curtiss
Music Director: Heinz Roemheld
Sound Supervisor: Gilbert Kurland *
Costumes: Edgar G. Ulmer *, Vera West *, Ed Ware *
Make Up: Jack P. Pierce *
Special Effects: John P. Fulton *
Special Photography: Jack Cosgrove *
Art Director: Charles D. Hall

Karloff [real name: Boris Karloff] (Hjalamar Poelzig)
Bela Lugosi (Dr Vitus Verdegast)
David Manners (Peter Alison)
Jacqueline Wells (Joan Alison)
Lucille Lund (Kaaren Verdegast Poelzig )
Egon Brecher (the majordomo)
Harry Cording (Thamal)
Henry Armetta (the sergeant)
Albert Conti (the lieutenant)
John Carradine [organist – uncredited]
Paul Weigel [station master – uncredited]
Anna Duncan [maid – uncredited]
André Cheron [conductor – uncredited]
George Davis [bus driver – uncredited]
Tony Marlow [border patrolman – uncredited]
Rodney Hildebrand [brakeman – uncredited]
Michael Mark, Paul Panzer, Symona Boniface, Frazer Acosta, King Baggot, Louis January, Peggy Terry, Virginia Ainsworth, Duskal Blaine, Harry Walker [cultists – uncredited]
Luis Alberni [train steward – uncredited]

Cast Gallery

Alternative Titles

House of Doom – UK title
The Vanishing Body – re-release title

See also
The Kiss of the Vampire (1962)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Scary Movie 2 (2001)

Extracts included in
Head (1968)
Universal Horror (1998)


Filmfax no.57 (October/November 1996) pp.31-32 – illustrated review (by Bryan Senn)
We Belong Dead no.29 (Autumn 2021) pp.12-13 – illustrated article (The black laboratory of John Llewellyn Probert: The black cat o'nine tales by John Llewellyn Probert)

Expresso, Cartaz 6 November 1998 – review (by Manuel Cintra Ferreira)
Expresso, Cartaz 28 November 1998 – review (by Manuel Cintra Ferreira)

Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again by John Stanley pp.43-44 – review, credits
Hoffman's Guide to Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.44 – review, credits
Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.33 – credits
The Horror Factory by Bruce Dettman and Michael Bedford pp.42-45 – article
Human Monsters: The Bizarre Psychology of Movie Villains by George E. Turner and Michael H. Price pp.57-62 – article
Of Gods and Monsters by John T. Soister pp.170-176 – illustrated credits, article
by Walt Lee p.36 – review
Sound Films, 1927-1939: A United States Filmography Volume 1 by Alan G. Fetrow p.52 – credits, review
Universal Horrors by Michael Brunas, John Brunas and Tom Weaver – credits, review
Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror by Michael Mallory pp.180-183 – illustrated article