Both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi have been in excellent horror films on their own and have also created monster icons in their own right, but some of their best work together lies in the two Edgar Allan Poe films made by Universal in the 1930s: "The Black Cat", and "The Raven".
"The Black Cat" tells the story of the strange and violent relationship between Dr. Vitus Werdegast and Hjalmar Poelzig. For once in his career, Bela Lugosi plays the dashing good guy, but this is to little affect because of his sinister aura. The ending is so shocking and masterfully shot that the film will leave a mark on all viewers! The film features a very modern Bauhaus type furniture, which is strange for a horror story and a pleasant departure from the usual cobwebs and staircases.
"The Raven" is the better of the duo and tells the story of a surgeon, Dr. Richard Vollin, who falls madly in love with a woman soon to be married. He takes in and disfigures murderer-on-the-run Edmund Bateman, who is soon unwillingly drawn into his web of murder. Boris Karloff gives another tragic-but-brilliant performance, and his final heroic act will bring tears to all eyes. Bela Lugosi also gives one of the genre-defining roles as Dr. Vollin, perhaps the greatest mad doctor of all time.
These two films are brilliant examples of Universal Horror. Although they do not feature the blatant German Expressionist photography that "Dracula", and "The Mummy" employed, they do takes us through a newer, more modern type of horror. The films are definitely not supernatural, and focus on psychological horror instead.
The true star of these films, though, is definitely Boris Karloff. His performances in these films are so unnerving (The Black Cat) and tragic (The Raven) that nobody will forget them. The sinister Poelzig will frighten everybody, and the tragic figure of Edward Bateman will definitely make all cry.