For National Black Cat Day, we celebrate some of the black felines that made these horror movies so memorable. Edgar Allan Poe’s disturbing short story “The Black Cat” has inspired a number of these, many also called “The Black Cat.”
13. Black Cat, “Tales of Terror” (1962)
In this vaguely Poe-based segment, Peter Lorre finds his wife cheating with Vincent Price — and seals them both up, a la “Cask of Amontillado,” in the wall. But he also accidentally entombs his wife’s black cat, whose mews reveal Lorre’s dastardly deed.
12. Black Cat, “The Legend of Hell House” (1973)
A mysterious black cat prowls outside the notoriously haunted Belasco House, where a team of paranormal investigators is staying. It finds its way inside and attacks medium Florence (Pamela Franklin), who kills the seemingly possessed cat in self-defense. But, like the evil in the house itself, the cat cannot die and is soon taking up its spot outside the house once more.
11. Black cat, “The Black Cat” (1934)
Another instance of a black cat embodying pure evil: In this extremely stylish horror classic set in Poland, bitter enemies Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff feel quite differently about cats: Lugosi is morbidly afraid of Karloff’s cat, going so far as to kill it (offscreen). Since Karloff is a devil worshiper who killed Lugosi’s daughter, Lugosi is more or less the good guy in this must-see from Edger G. Ulmer.
10. Black Cat, “Tales From the Darkside: The Movie” (1990)
The movie is not so great, but in the “Cat From Hell” segment, a black cat has the last laugh after taking out a man whose company cruelly experimented on cats — and the hit man hired to take out the killer cat!
9. Panther, “Cat People” (1942)
Serbian-born Irina (Simone Simon) is fascinated with the black panther at the Central Park zoo, as she believes she’s descended from a long line of “cat people” from Eastern Europe. And since birds and other animals are terrified of her, she just might be right.
8. Leopard, “The Leopard Man” (1943)
A black leopard (the same one used in “Cat People”), is hired to spice up a night club act, but then escapes and begins killing people in this lesser known film from producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur.
7. Panther, “Cat People,” (1982)
In Paul Schrader’s more explicit remake of the 1942 classic, Irina (Nastassia Kinski) learns she will turn into a man-eating panther, like her brother (Malcolm McDowell), if she “mates” with anyone but him.
6. Black Cat, “The Black Cat” (1981)
A black cat is sent by an embittered psychic to cause the death of his enemies in this film from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci. It’s now streaming on Amazon Prime.
5. Cat, “Coraline” (2009)
In Neil Gaiman’s dark fairy tale, a girl finds a door to another world, where her “Other Mother” is more attentive than her own mother — and her cat (voice courtesy of Keith David) can talk. But Other Mother has these odd button eyes… and doesn’t like cats.
4. Black Cat, “Two Evil Eyes” (1990)
Dario Argento’s “Black Cat” half of this anthology film is a gruesome homage to all things Poe — with a man (Harvey Keitel) killing his wife’s cat over and over, because it simply won’t stay dead. Of course, the cat has the last word in this horror tale.
3. Black cat, “Kuroneko” (1968)
In this eerie black-and-white Japanese film, a black cat seems to resurrect two women murdered by a band of samurai, who swear to spend eternity drinking the blood of samurai. It’s now streaming on Filmstruck.
2. Binx, “Hocus Pocus” (1993)
A black cat named Binx (who used to be a boy) is the key to stopping three evil witch sisters in this horror-comedy favorite.
1. Black cat, “The Tomb of Ligeia” (1965)
If you like your horror movies Gothic as hell and starring Vincent Price, then you will love this entry based on the Poe story. Price is a widower whose new wife is haunted by his late wife Ligieia in the form a vengeful black cat. It’s the final Poe film Price made with Roger Corman.