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Cat O’Nine Tails – Review

Cat O'Nine Tails movie poster

After the huge success in 1970 of Dario Argento’s first feature, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in the USA, production was quickly started on his second film Cat O’Nine Tails and was to co-star two lead American actors Karl Malden and James Franciscus and was to be filmed on location in Turin.

When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco ArnĂ² (Karl Malden), who overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute’s scientists shortly before the robbery, teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) to crack the case. But before long the bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives imperilled in their search for the truth. And worse still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), Franco’s young niece, may also be in the killer’s sights…

Dario Argento is known for famous Giallo movies with gory and inventive killings in films such as Deep Red and Tenebrae which is why this film seems very weak and pedestrian by comparison. Don’t get me wrong, any Argento film is worth a look and you can see his developing style, but the story as well as the actual set pieces, apart from a murder on a railway station, are just so lame.

Cat O'Nine Tails cast

Alan Jones on the great audio commentary with fellow critic Kim Newman states that this is the only Argento film not to suffer any censorship anywhere in the world, which just sums it up really. The acting by the two leads is very good and the 70’s location shots interesting but even the unveiling of the killer seems very superficial and lacks any surprises. One for die-hard Argento fans but for anyone else check out Suspiria or Deep Red to get to see what the director is really capable of.

This new re-release from Arrow has a great brand new 4k transfer and it is definitely a big step up from the previous release. The mono soundtrack is also first class and the extra’s well worth a look. You get…

  • New audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
  • New interviews with co-writer/director Dario Argento, co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, actress Cinzia De Carolis and production manager Angelo Iacono
  • Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time
  • Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • 4 lobby card reproductions
  • Limited edition booklet illustrated by Matt Griffin, featuring an essay on the film by Dario Argento, and new writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes

A nice package of a very average film in the director’s catalogue.


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