As we enter October I feel it’s time to take a look at one of horrors cult directors. I am of course referring to Dario Argento. For those of you yet to discover his films, he is a Italian director who delivers his own unique vision of filmmaking. Anyway here is my The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray Review.
I often compare him to Sergio Leone in terms of style, direction and use of music, Argento in many ways is the horror version.
There are many various styles of horror movies and I’m not just talking about the sub-genres but the countries in which there are made or the nationality of the director etc…
Take for instance Hammer horror or Universal horror both from the same genre but go for different approaches, then there is Argento who manages to create his own unique Italian/European style.
I like all of these styles and approaches but how does The Cat O’Nine Tails fit in. Well it’s a horror/thriller film released in 1971, in many ways this is the film that really made Argento, sure he had some success previously but this became a box office hit.
- The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray (1971)
- Genre Horror, Thriller
- Directed By Dario Argento
- Written By Dardano Sacchetti, Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi, Luigi Collo
- UK Film Rating: 15
- Released By Arrow Video
- Starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak
We start off with a blind man and young girl walking down the street. These two characters will become important as the film moves along.
The blind man, Franco Arnò (Karl Malden) lives near a medical institute in which genetic research is conducted. That night someone breaks into the institute.
The following day a man from that institute falls in front of a train in a tragic accident. Or is it? Franco (blind man) with aid of his little girl discover when looking closely at a photo in the newspaper that captures the very moment of the accident, that it was indeed murder.
From here they contact the reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) to investigate, but this is just the start of the murders.
As Carlo and Franco begin their investigation they are in for a early shock. In fact by pursuing the case they are putting their own lives at risk by drawing the murderers attention, but with several suspects it going to be a race against time.
Don’t worry there will be no spoilers here, but what you have essentially is a film which has you guessing as to the identity of the murderer.
I have to say I think it’s done exceptionally well leading you one way and then another before finally revealing the identity and reason behind it all.
Oh and I think the film has a really quality ending on many levels!
Characters / Acting
The cast are good, Karl Molden adds that bit weight and class as the blind man ex-newsman reporter. He does this very well and really has you believing that his is blind. Top performance!
The main character driving the film and the one we see the film through is played by James Franciscus. He plays a newspaperman, a slightly arrogant and sure of himself type but likeable enough.
I think he is a good choice and does a really good job. Franciscus and Molden share quite a few scenes together so need to have a good rapport and they do.
Elsewhere to further add to the confusion we have Catherine Spaak playing the daughter of the guy who runs the research institute. Again she plays it perfectly for the feel and mood the film was going for. Her character is at times engaging and sometimes distant leaving you with feeling there is more to her than meets the eye.
I guess what I’m saying is all the key characters do a pretty good and solid job adding to the overall viewing experience.
Direction / Style
Dario Argento manages to create a very stylish European 1970’s vibe. If you have seen any of his other films you will instantly recognise The Cat O’Nine Tails as being one of his.
This is his strength creating a vision along with a soundtrack to produce something quite exceptional. I’ll not say he always nails it as well as this film but his uniqueness is why he is held in such high regard amongst horror fans. A true cult classic film director.
Enrico Menczer handles the cinematography side of things.
The music plays a key role in revealing clues and is by Ennio Morricone. This does a good job of creating the right tone and feel for the film. In other words I think he has tailored it perfectly to suit the Argento style.
This is no Spaghetti western epic but perfect for Argento’s cult classic!
Conclusion – The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray Review (1971)
If you are new to the world of Dario Argento The Cat O’Nine Tails is a great introduction, especially now it’s been restored and released on Blu-ray.
His unique style probably comes from influences like Hitchcock, but he to has influenced people such as Tarantino. This just goes to show why you should watch his work.
Cat O’Nine Tails is a easy way into that uniqueness as it has two American actors taking the lead roles. That said I do think there is plenty of Argento style to make it look and feel different from American or British films of the time.
I really love the elevator shaft scene, the way in which it is shot is pretty spectacular, I mean it could of done by Hitchcock himself!
If you’re a fan of Dario Argento take a look at these reviews:
- The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
- Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971)
- Deep Red (1975)
- Suspiria (1977)
- Inferno (1980)
- Tenebrae (1982)
- Sleepless (2001)
- Giallo (2009)
The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray Version
First off yes this is the restored version and for the most part it’s a pretty good job. It’s not perfect but way better than any other version you already own.
Also you need to factor in how the condition of the original film material quality. Lots of these films have been stored badly meaning the original film tends to deteriorate.
What we have is a good and at times very good restoration. There are certainly a few dips in quality when moving between scenes. However the colours are as vibrant as they should be, the actors faces are clear and sharp.
The background is where the quality sometimes suffers plus there are a few tiny speckles throughout.
With all that said none of spoiled be enjoyment of the film, on the whole it’s a huge step up in quality. For any Argento fans, I fully recommend upgrading to the Blu-ray version.
- The Blu-ray comes with optional English or Italian audio, yes I went for the English option. Other features include:
- Dario Argento Remembers The Cat O’Nine Tails – A Short interview with Dario Argento in which he reveals his doesn’t really like Cat O’Nine Tails because it’s too American.
- Luigi Cozzi: Cat O’ Nine Tails In Refection – A short interview revealing some interesting facts such as how the film came to be made in the first place.
- Sergio Martino: The Art and Arteries of the Giallo – A short look at the genre in general and how Argento changed and shaped Italian cinema with his use of imagery and camera styles.
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- A rather nice collectors booklet
If you are really in to your films then these little extras are perfect.
A pretty good restoration that comes with some very interesting and worthwhile extras, good job!
Time to reveal my movie rating for The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray (1971)
- Movie Rating: RECOMMENDED
- Blu-ray Sound & Picture: GOOD
The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971) is available now on Blu-ray
For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster with trailer…
Note it’s not a great trailer as it does show some keys scenes, proceed with caution
The Cat O’Nine Tails Blu-ray Review (1971) is just one of many horror reviews we will be featuring this October as we countdown to Halloween.
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The Cat O'Nine Tails (1971) Blu-ray Review
Movie title: The Cat O'Nine Tails (1971)
Duration: 111 mins
Director(s): Dario Argento
Actor(s): James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak
Genre: Horror, Thriller
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Rating
Argento delivers a must have addition to your blu-ray Horror collection