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The Black Cat: Universal Horror’s First (and Unexpected) Bomb

Jim Knipfel Oct 27, 2019

Edgar Ulmer’s addition to the growing Universal Monsters pantheon, The Black Cat, may have been a bit too horrifying.

In 1934, after the mind-bending quadruple-whammy of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man, Universal Pictures knew they were on to something with this “horror movies” business. Not only had horror movies proven to be terrifyingly profitable, the studio now had four new franchise operations up and running, which only meant more money down the line. The question was where to go next now that they’d already tapped Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells?

The answer seemed obvious: No author was more singularly identified with creepy tales of mystery and the macabre than Edgar Allan Poe. It was a natural fit, wasn’t it? In fact, just two years earlier, they’d had a minor hit with Lugosi in Murders in the Rue Morgue, so

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