The Black Cat (1934) was the first-ever horror movie to pair the two masters of the macabre: Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. It was also the first one ever to feature a modernist architect as the monster. Instead of the usual crumbling gothic pile, the villain of this piece inhabits a modernist house of glass and steel with a great curving chrome-railed staircase.
This is the house of Hjalmar Poelzig [sic] (Boris Karloff), an Austrian architect-cum-psychopath, who of course has designed the house himself. It was built on the ruins of an old fort, which coincidentally Poelzig commanded himself during WWI. In the movie, Poelzig is accused of having betrayed the fort under his command causing the death of thousands of Austro-Hungarian soldiers who now lie buried around the house. On top of this, Poelzig’s bizarre taste in decoration takes the form of dead women stacked in glass coffins. Things get really weird when his black cat is killed only to reappear the next morning as if nothing has happened... before, during the film’s climax (spoiler alert), the house gets blown up. For full effect we highly recommend you take a look at this architecture-horror-classic for yourselves. I (fh)