The Black Room (1935) - Roy William Neill

The Black Room is a magnificent little movie from 1935 starring one Boris Karloff. He really hits a home run with his performance in this one. He plays the treacherous Gregor and even-keeled Anton, twin brothers prophesied to bring about the end of their lineage through murdering each-other. The story is set in the eighteenth century and has amazing design. The shots are vivid and beautiful for such an early production. I am so used to watching these low budget productions I sort of forget what a mainstream picture actually looks like. 

Like I said above, this movie is all about Boris Karloff's performance. It's perfect for anyone studying film or anyone that's curious about Karloff's work away from his usual fare. Acting as a twin isn't something that's that fantastical. However, it is something that is butchered a lot. No one beats Schwarzenegger in Total Recall. Karloff does a great job of keeping the same essence with the characters but having little details changed as well as the overall evilness that is Gregor. Prophecy tells that a family that started with two twin brothers murdering each-other in a black room and will end in the same fashion.

The film is really well paced and fits a lot into a short amount of time. However, if you are looking for something truly fiendish then look further on. This movie is a bit long winded and the action is very minimal. A quick carriage chase and a few screams. This movie is really tame for a horror feature and leans more on the side of period drama. 

If you are interested in other Karloff pieces that feature his acting. I would suggest The Raven and The Black Cat. Both are really entertaining and his characters are fantastic.

Perhaps you will come back from the dead to kill me?

  • Shooting began May 6, 1935, finished June 7, released July 15, 1935. Boris Karloff completed his scenes for "The Raven" one month earlier, on April 5.
  • Karloff's performance was voted runner-up to the best performance for the month of August, 1935 by the Screen Actors' Guild. Henry Fonda in "The Farmer takes a wife" and Will Rogers in "Steamboat 'Round the bend" tied for the top award.
  • Part of the SON OF SHOCK package of 21 titles released to television in 1958, which followed the original SHOCK THEATER release of 52 features one year earlier. This was also one of the 12 Columbia titles, the other 61 all being Universals.