Universal's horror films rarely stand to the effects of time. Most of them look aged, irrelevant, and even quite silly. But there are a few that live to this day. The Black Cat is one of them, even though it doesn't bear any resemblance to the amazingly scary horror masterpiece written by Poe and bearing the same name (or is it the other way around?).
It is a movie about a newly-wed couple (yeah, again) who are honeymooning in Hungary, and are joined in the train by a Hungarian Psychiatrist. A few minutes later and they are already in the house of a mischievous Austrian architect. From then on we slowly get to the weirder realm, although when it does get to this realm it picks a Lovecraftian ending pace
And that's actually, the main reason that the movie works for me. There is a reason that Lovecraft's stories are so frightening. I mean, there are reasons for that. One of them is the levels of horror that he's working with, but another one is the pattern that all of his stories share.
In Lovecraft stories', he starts slowly, really slowly, with only hints and such, and only in the last page or two he picks the pace. From that moment onwards, all hell breaks loose and the weird element is skyrocketing in the speed of light. But he starts slowly. True, we know from the very beginning what we will face, but we don't see it till the end, and we only learn about it gradually.
Anyways, this pattern carries with it 2 main benefits. The first one is that it makes the thing, the monster, more believable. After so many pages of trying to understand it, and seeing the effects of its existence, it is much easier to accept this monstrosity.
But there is also another benefit, and this one is far greater. It creates a build-up, and this build up is way better than the build-up usually utilized in the horror market when pulled right. And Lovecraft knew how to do it.
But truth is, it isn't that much harder to pull right. One only needs to understand that instead of showing an attack in the beginning, one shows a diary. Instead of showing the remains of a victim, one only tells about it behind closed doors.
And then, in the end, when we pick the pace and show the true horror, gaze into the abyss and see the tentacles and eyes, we're much more frightened, much more terrified, much more scared. And that's the whole thing, that's the point, in the end, to frighten.
How about you? Have you watched this movie? What did you think? What have you learned?