Monday, February 22, 2010

The Black Room: Boris Karloff does the Parent Trap

Let me just start this post by saying that one day, when I have my own spooky castle, I want it to have a Black Onyx Room with a Pit. I am not asking for much. And no, I am not scared of some spooky curse that says I will kill my twin brother in that pit. I don't have a twin brother. So all is well and good.
Unfortunately Boris Karloff had a twin brother in 1935's The Black Room, a little piece of awesomeness courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Karloff plays duel roles: twin brothers Gregor and Anton Bergmann. The elder brother, Gregor, is Baron of some "Transylvania" type village in some Eastern country. Gregor and Anton grew up under the shadow of the family curse. See, the Bergmann family was started by twins, the younger of which killed the elder in what is known as "the Black Room." Family lore states that the bloodline will end with twins, who will meet the same fate. Anton, the younger, leaves the ancestral homeland, haunted by the curse. Gregor stays, and becomes a despotic ruler and suspected mass murderer. Anton returns when Gregor summons him, and finds angry villagers ready to "storm the castle." See, they know that Gregor is killing the women of the village. Anton refuses to believe it, but accepts Gregor's offer of the Baron ship to appease the villagers. Before you can say "twisted twin entrapment" Gregor murders Anton (in the Black Room) and assumes his identity. See, Anton had a paralyzed right arm, and Gregor reasons that if he pretends to have the paralyzed arm, and gets rid of his signature lisp, he will pass as Anton and the villagers will love him. Plus, he will be able to marry Thea, the beautiful village woman that he covets....

Anton, before he dies in the Pit, vows that the prophecy will come true. He will kill Gregor in the Black Room, one way or the other. Gregor, disguised as Anton, kills a few more people and wrangles Thea into marrying him before he is discovered. The ending is priceless. I won't give it away, but let me just say, you can't fool a dog...


The Black Room is a gem. Directed by Roy William Neill, best known for a number of Rathbone Holmes films, The Black Room has style and substance. Karloff is amazing, playing both good and very, very evil. His performance of Gregor pretending to be Anton is incredible. He gets the characterization down just so much, but not enough to fool everybody. Add to that creepy twins, Gothic castles, angry villagers, lots and lots of murder--and you have a "Universal-esque" treat. Visit The Black Room-you won't be sorry.



1 comment:

The Film Connoisseur said...

Never heard of this one, but it looks promising, thanks for the review.