The Black Cat (1966)

  • Year: 1966
  • Released: 01 May 1966
  • Country: United States
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Horror
  • Runtime: 73 min
  • Writer: Edgar Allan Poe, Harold Hoffman
  • Director: Harold Hoffman
  • Cast: Robert Frost, Robyn Baker, Sadie French
  • Keywords: cat, new orleans, louisiana,

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The Black Cat Movie Reviews

OK no budget horror movie

This movie transplants Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story to 1965 Texas! Lou (Robert Frost) and Diana (Robyn Baker) are happily married. She buys a black cat for him as a pet. He becomes obsessed with the cat and ignores her. Then he (inexplicably) becomes a violent alcoholic…

The movie gets pretty incoherent from then on. Why Lou is an alcoholic is never explained. He also viciously attacks the cat he supposedly loves and then has a complete nervous breakdown! Still, if you ignore logic or continuity, this movie is OK. It has some very graphic gore for its time (an axing at the end is particularly gruesome) and it’s actually pretty well done. There’s also some inappropriate (but not bad) rock numbers worked in–there’s a real nice visual gag on the second number. The acting is pretty good. Frost and Baker were pretty obviously hired for their good looks but aren’t that bad. Baker has her moments and Frost is actually pretty good (even if he does overdo it a few times). And it does have a real nice ending.

So–no great shakes but an OK horror film.

That po’ cat.

The Black Cat, loosely based on the Edgar Allen Poe classic of the same name, is the story of one man’s descent into madness, a case of unchecked schizophrenia fueled by alcoholism that ultimately results in murder. Robert Frost plays mentally unbalanced writer Lou, whose wife Diana (Robyn Baker) gets him a black cat to celebrate their first anniversary. At first Lou is delighted with the new addition to his menagerie (he also has a monkey, a toucan, a racoon and a parakeet), and gives more attention to the moggy than to his wife (who cries herself to sleep in bed), but as he spirals out of control, Lou comes to believe that the cat is evil, gouging out its eye, hanging it with a flex, and electrocuting it. Eventually, Lou’s violence is turned towards Diana…

With spirited central performances from Frost and Baker, a snappy pace, and some surprisingly gnarly violence (the axe in the head scene is extremely bloody for the time), this is a very entertaining ’60s take on an oft-told tale. Hailing from the era of the twangy guitar, the film is replete with energetic rock and roll musical numbers that some might find off-putting but which I found only added to the wild nature of the movie (I liked how the band wear eye-patches during one song, mimicking the one-eyed cat). I do have to wonder how much animal cruelty was involved in the making of the film-the poor puss looks genuinely distressed at times-but if you can handle the questionable cat handling, this is definitely worth a go.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for the memorable scene in which Lou chats to a nightclub floozy, accusing her of being a witch: Frost is utterly convincing as a scarily unhinged individual with only the faintest grasp on reality.

The cat came back, they thought it was a goner…

The classic Edgar Allan Poe tale gets transplanted to mid-1960s Texas in this spirited midnight movie about a would-be writer named Lou (Robert Frost, in his only film role). One year, Lou receives a present from his wife Diana (Robyn Baker): a black cat whom he names Pluto. Lou, for no apparent reason, becomes a VERY hard-drinking lout who takes his wife for granted, and dotes on Pluto, while also being ignorant towards the rest of his menagerie of pets (including a toucan and a raccoon). In a drunken rage, he mutilates the cat; then, during another drunken stupor, murders the poor thing, in the process burning his house down! Of course, the feline hasn’t used up all of its nine lives yet…

Anybody familiar with the Poe yarn, or at least the feature films inspired by it, will find that this version holds no surprises. But it’s reasonably amusing, with hilariously florid acting by Frost at times. It contains some decent atmosphere as it depicts his descent into madness, as he becomes convinced that the cat is some sort of demon sent by Satan to torment him. Baker and he were obviously hired for their looks, but she does a decent job as well, creating a likeable character worthy of some sympathy. The cast also includes a couple of faces familiar to fans of Texas-shot movies: Bill Thurman (“The Last Picture Show”) as a bartender, George Edgley (“Common Law Wife”), Jeff Alexander (“Horror High”), and Annabelle Weenick (“Don’t Look in the Basement”).

The stock horror music used here suits the melodramatic nature of the material, and the picture wraps up in a fairly trim 73 minutes. But that doesn’t mean that the film is free from filler: there are a few ditties (such as “Sinner Man”) belted out by a guy named Scotty McKay and his band during the bar scenes. What will please viewers with more modern sensibilities is the level of violence, as there is one brutal axe murder that takes place. And the ending, while abrupt, is most amusing, and leaves cult horror fans with smiles on their faces.

This is no “lost gem”, but is still worth a look for horror fans who seek out more obscure offerings.

Six out of 10.