Tuesday, 22 January 2013



The one drawback with my ongoing giallo binge is that there really aren't enough of them commercially available in the UK, so I widened the net to include other Italian horror movies which don't really fit into that genre. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what subgenre Lucio Fulci's wantonly absurd, not to say frequently ridiculous, film belongs to - straight supernatural horror? Gory deathfest? It's nice that two of the titans of Italian genre cinema, Fulci and Dario Argento, both went a bit tonto in freely adapting the Poe story for the screen (Argento's is the second half of Two Evil Eyes); there's no question that Argento's is the superior in technical film-making terms, but it's a close run race for the crazy prize. Obviously it keeps the climactic bit that everyone remembers, in which the cat is walled up with a corpse but the authorities are led to its hiding place by the animal's cries, but up to that point it's an almost irresistible melange of violent death scenes, hilarious plot devices and unspeakable dialogue. Your basic Lucio Fulci film, in other words.

Right from the start of The Black Cat, the cat is a homicidal maniac, despite it [1] not having opposable thumbs and [2] being a cat. To the accompaniment of a Pino Donaggio score it's caused a fatal car smash before the credits have even started. It kills two teenage lovers by stealing the key from their airtight, windowless loveshack and destroying the ventilator fan, and also burns a house down. The animal is owned by Patrick Magee as a medium who tries to communicate with the dead by putting microphones on gravestones (a technique which actually appears to work); he knows what's going on and poisons the cat and then hangs it. But you don't get rid of an evil murderous cat that easily....

The other big names in the film are David Warbeck as the Scotland Yard Inspector called in to investigate, and Mimsy Farmer as a photographer studying the local ruins. Dagmar Lassandar and genre veteran Al Cliver (Pier Luigi Conti) also show up. Thanks to its rural English setting it's almost got the feel of a Midsomer Murders about it, albeit the very last episode where the producers learn the show has been axed and they decide to go completely apeshit. It's got enough gore to still get it an 18, though no showstoppers like the eyeball splinter in Zombie Flesh Eaters or the entrail vomiting in City Of The Living Dead; a flagrant, proud disregard for logic and common sense, and ends up as good trashy entertainment.



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