Main cast: Jeffrey Combs (Edgar Allen Poe), Elyse Levesque (Virginia Poe), Aron Tager (George Graham), Patrick Gallagher (Barman), Christopher Heyerdahl (Rufus Griswold), and Ian Alexander Martin (Mr Fordham)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the same name that inspired this episode is one of the most famous ones in the horror genre, and Stuart Gordon’s love for the old classics sees this moving from HP Lovecraft to Mr Poe. The Black Cat is not a direct adaptation of the story, though – it wants to tell instead possible events that inspired the actual Mr Poe to come up with his story.
In this one, Eddie is broke, but he has an adoring wife, Virginia, who sees his writing as a beautiful kind of poetry. Her cat Pluto begs to differ, though – the cat detests Eddie, much to his wife’s amusement. He is also becoming increasingly frustrated by how his poetry – which is what he really wants to write – can’t sell while his horror stories continue to be in demand. It is only a matter of time before his frustrations, as well as his wife’s increasingly ill health due to consumption – and his inability to pay for her treatments – and his own liberal consumption of alcohol, cause him to snap.
The cat in this one is more of a manifestation of Eddie’s alcoholism and personal failings, and it could have been a compelling tale of psychological horror… if Stuart Gordon could just make up his damned mind whether this is a comedy or horror. It is hard to take this one seriously when Jeffrey Combs overacts like he’s in something that is more camp than anything else, and the way poor Elyse Levesque is always covered in blood (can’t they afford a change of clothes) or spewing out blood like a broken fire hydrant is just too funny for all the wrong reasons.
This episode has some heartfelt homages to Edgar Allen Poe, but ultimately, the story is still too similar to the source material, making the ornamentation of this episode feel unnecessary and showy, and it is hard to be scared when the two main characters look and act like refugees from the nearest clown school.