Masters of Horror

Season 2 Episode 11

The Black Cat

Aired Friday 12:00 AM Jan 19, 2007 on Showtime

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
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  • Edgar Allen Poe's life takes an enmorous dwnfall after his wife's agonizing death and her deranged black cat that drives Poe into complete madness.

    I have one word to sum this storyline up, "eh". I've always been entrigued by Edgar Allen Poe and his grisly works of writing so I decided to pick thi up. What a waste of money!

    The storyline was a bit hard to follow. I mean, what was going on? Did he completely dream up his wife's death of TB or was it a mistake and she was buried alive and dug herself out?

    It was also quite boring. It kept going on and on. I was waiting for something exciting to happen. I was gald to see that unlike the other "Master of Horror" works this one lacked useless gore, but esch maybe it needs some to spice things up a bit.
  • An "episode" or movie of the Masters of Horror series based on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Black Cat". It isn't exactly like the short story however. It is Stuart Gordon's retelling of it and it is wonderful.

    Anyone who doubts the power of Masters of Horror needs to see this episode. There are no real flaws. It is absolutely perfect for what it is. Edgar Allen Poe is the main character of this version of the story. His real life situation at the time he wrote it is completely brought to life too. It is hard to say just how it works without spoiling anything, but work it most certainly does. Anyone who is familiar with the films of Stuart Gordon will notice that Jeffrey Combs once again plays the main role and he is great in it. A relatively unknown actress named Elyse Levesque plays Virginia Poe in The Black Cat and she shines just as much as Combs. It's a beautiful short film that most horror fans will find to be one of the best in the genre.
  • I've never really been a fan of Poe's, but this episode might have just changed my mind.

    Directed by Stuart Gordon, who is known for his films based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the jump to Poe isn't really that large seeing as Lovecraft himself was actually inspired by his work. The character of Edgar Allen Poe is played perfectly by Jeffrey Combs, who has worked with Gordon on several of his Lovecraft films, and has even played Lovecraft himself in a film called 'Necronomicon'. Combs and Gordon work well together and it certainly shows in 'The Black Cat'. Some of Gordon's earlier work is quite rough around the edges, but watching this this episode, it appears he is finally getting his feet. This is definitely one of the better MoH episodes I've seen and I highly recommend it to any connoisseurs of the macabre.
  • Poe excellence

    I was perfectly pleased by The Black Cat though I was not expecting any disappointment from Jeffrey Combs and Stuart Gordon (although I wasn't a big fan of his first season entry Dreams in the Witch House). One aspect that I strongly favored in this episode was the portrayal of the cat which played some interesting parts from the scene of gouging and the scene of the discovery. Edgar Allan Poe was one of my influences as a horror reader and yet I had yet until this movie to see a good Poe film. The Black Cat defintiely had great potential and I was very interested in the other factors of film production such as the monotone black and white imagery save for the hue heightening like that of red blood and the cat's green eyes. Kudos to Masters for another great episode.
  • This episode reflects all the spirit which helped to launch this tv project. This episode is unconventional, is memorable, with an impressionant writing and direction by Stuart Gordon and, of course, the remarkable acting of Jeffrey Combs.

    This episode reflects all the spirit which helped to launch this tv project. This episode is unconventional, is memorable, with an impressionant writing and direction by Stuart Gordon and, of course, the remarkable acting of Jeffrey Combs.

    In all aspects, this episode is the best realization to the date on "Masters of horrors". The spirit of this minimovie it's about anguish, human classic fears, psychological rupture of spirit (schizophrenia), about the lost of human soul... aspects which were characterizing Poe's life, on all of his absolute personality, we can see all this elements nicely represented on this magnficiant episode, which marks the best on all this tv series, on an époque - this second season - characterized by mediocre and aberrant episodes like "Dream cruise" or "We all scream for Ice Scream". This episode, and I can tell you, will be revisited, and of course, I will attend to its release on DVD.
  • This was so mcuh better than last weeks episode...

    The last few episode of Masters of Horror have sucked big time, but this episode was much more on track. I liked this episode a lot, it wasn't really scary but the story was much more believable and intresting. The main story was about a poet who is out of ideas and needs money. He goes insane and kills his wife and the cat... But eventually he realises that he made it up and has come up with the perfect story... If more episodes of Masters of Horror are like this then i won't mind tuning in, but otherwise i will have to think hard...
  • From - reviewed by Morgan Elektra - ---- 5 knives of 5

    So far in the almost two seasons since Masters of Horror debuted, my relationship with the series has been a lot like a love affair with a really attractive schizophrenic drug addict with bipolar disorder ... From week to week, and minute to minute, I’m never sure what to expect. There are a few plateaus where things are decent, a lot of lows that are really low, and make me reconsider the whole relationship; but the highs, when they’re there, make me think again. And you know they really love you, despite all the **** up **** they do. So how can you leave? I think a lot of viewers have had a similar experience.

    This week’s installment, "The Black Cat", is directed by Stuart Gordon based on a teleplay he wrote with Dennis Paoli. Gordon is responsible for one of those first season lows (in my book) "Dreams in the Witch House", but he’s also got quite a bit of genre cred under his belt. "The Black Cat" is based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name about a man tormented by the titular pet.

    Gordon and Paoli chose, wisely I think, not to do a direct adaptation of the short story. We all know how adaptations usually turn out. Here, they took the story and decided instead to integrate it into the life of the great writer, turning the straight up tale of fright into an exploration of the man, and his inspirations. Poe is played expertly by Jeffrey Combs, who not only looks eerily like the character but manages to make him so relatable that despite the dress and surroundings of his times, he could be someone you know. The depth of the character and all his facets – drunk, loving husband, frustrated writer and madman – is endearing and refreshing, even when he’s in the grip of his darkest fancies.

    MOH: The Black Cat reviewAs Poe struggles to write, his wife Virginia (Levesque) provides both a safe haven of love and an added burden. Virginia is consumptive and has a nasty habit of coughing up blood all over their quaint house at inopportune times. Despite the obvious age difference between the two (in real life, Poe was only 13 years Virginia’s senior while Combs is 31 years older than Levesque) both actors managed to portray a genuine affection and even passion for each other. These two strong leads carry the episode effortlessly, but the secondary and even tertiary characters – like that of the barman at the tavern Poe frequents – all turn in good performances as well.

    Poe's labors to make money selling poems to a literary world more interested in his "fantastic tales", and his frustration and anger at his inability to write anything new, are depicted incredibly well. In one scene, Poe sits staring with knotted brow at a blank sheet of white paper for a tense moment before whispering "the white plague". The mood of the moment was conveyed so well I don’t believe you’d have to be a writer to understand the dread he was feeling at that moment – but if you ARE, it’s that much more powerful.

    As Virginia becomes sicker, and he still can’t write to earn the money to pay for her doctor, he drowns himself in drink and spirals deeper into despair. And all the time, their cat Pluto does cat-like things like trying to eat their pet goldfish, or twining around Edgar’s legs when he’s drunk. But as he becomes more and more deranged, Poe begins to see the cat’s acts as sinister and dreads its very presence in the house.

    MOH: The Black Cat reviewThat feeling of dread permeates the whole episode from the opening scene of terrifying illustrations. Gordon and director of photography Jon Joffin have concocted a soft, gothic tone and use both lighting and a few interesting camera angles to great effect. Normally, this is not something I would notice, but in this case the look of the piece was lovely and helped to instill a feeling of unease in the viewer at the same time. Another thing I hardly ever notice is sound design but again, this episode used it incredibly well to intensify the anxiety and heighten the mood. Just the look and sound of the episode is enough to set your nerves jumping, proving horror doesn’t have to be a gorefest to get a reaction.

    Not that there’s not some gore. Though the blood is limited to only a few scenes, the guys at KNB have once again outdone themselves. I don’t want to give anything away in case you haven’t seen it, because it’s a great scene – but there’s one part involving an axe that is both shocking and creepy at the same time. It was also nice to see our evil cat, who was missing an eye, didn’t get the same terrible CGI treatment the poor feline in Nightmare’s and Dreamscapes' "Crouch End" had.

    Last week in his review of "We All Scream for Ice Cream", Scott Johnson said that is seems at times like the masters aren’t really trying. I have to admit that was the case more often than not. Luckily for us, Gordon doesn’t seem to have fallen into that bunch this time around. With deft writing, a great look, and well thought out sound design he loaded the bases and the talented actors helped him knock this one straight out of the park. I dare say this is my favorite episode of either season so far. This week’s installment was a grisly but gorgeous gothic tale of terror. This is one you’re definitely going to want to see.
  • a very special and memorable episode by stuart gordon; a great twist on the story itself, and a standout (period) piece in this series.

    while both this series and stuart gordon's body of work has been largely hit-and-miss, this episode by him definitely delivers. in all, it may even be his best work yet -- low-key yet haunting, slow-paced yet tight as a drum, with a surprisingly confident mix of chills and art-house sensibilities.

    despite the commonly held belief, poe was much more a master of macabre than a pioneer of horror (which one of poe's avid admirers, lovecraft was a true pioneer of), and gordon's low-key approach here fits this macabre like a glove.

    from the subtle use of colors (dull, grayish tones with the exception of sharp red tints for blood and red wine and green for the titular cat's glowing eyes), through the aptly twisted screenplay by paoli and gordon (based on, of course, poe's original story), outstanding acting (a much-welcome reunion with classic gordon star jeffrey combs, who turns in a convincing, haunting performance as poe; the other actors are just as great in their supporting roles) and the period music, this episode is definitely a highlight of this much-criticized anthology series, and just as well a playful tribute to a man whose body of work laid the foundations for much of today's suspense, macabre and, well, horror.

    while last year's lovecraft adaption was decent yet missing the mark of greatness, this season's outing by gordon shows that there is indeed potential both in the series and gordon himself. (give the man a decent budget and no pressure and let him handle the case of charles dexter ward next season (if there is one); this episode just proved that he is up to the task of filming a lovecraft adaptation as a period piece.)

    although this season got off to a slow start (ah, the abomination that is pro-life; however, family was a riot), the recent episodes (valerie on the stairs, the screwfly solution, right to die) made me change my mind which was about to write off this series for good. there is still life in it, even if it is more like... undead.
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