The Black Cat (1934)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

The Black Cat 1934

This was the first film to pair Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, the two giants of horror cinema, together, and as such it was Universal’s highest grossing film of the year. Yet, it is somehow ironic that The Black Cat is not a traditional monster movie in the mould of either Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931). It fails even to explore the same Gothic landscapes as those two films and it may be because of this, that it succeeds as being one of the most grimly shocking of all the pre-Code movies. Admittedly, its impact has dimmed, but every film is to some extent a time capsule and should be seen, with at least half an eye, on how it was received when originally released.

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Doctor X (1932)

Directed by Michael Curtiz

Even with the skilled workaholic, Michael Curtiz (Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933); Casablanca (1942); Mildred Pierce (1945); White Christmas (1954)) at the helm, Doctor X is often considered a run-of-the-mill, pre-Code horror movie. It’s position in the limelight has been somewhat usurped by its more famous cinematic cousin the Mystery of the Wax Museum, which used an almost identical cast and crew, as well as being shot using the same two-colour Technicolor process.

Yet Doctor X has far more to offer than some would have you believe. This is especially true for the colour version, which drips with atmosphere even when having to battle against the comedic reporter, as played by Lee Tracy. His wisecracks, slapstick humour and jokey hand buzzer quickly wear thin, yet despite these distractions the film still manages to propel you along at what feels like a breakneck speed.

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