on 8 April 2010
A blind ex-newsman and puzzle-solver, Franco Arno (Karl Malden), and his niece team up with a reporter, Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), to try to solve a mystery surrounding a break-in at a genetics research centre and a related series of murders.
"The Cat O'Nine Tails" is the second film directed by Dario Argento and, although it is not as good as his debut, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, it is still an enthralling and stylish detective story laced with moments of brutal violence and featuring some impressive camera-work and memorable set-pieces. Here we see the early employment of the killer's point-of-view shots that appeared in many subsequent films including John Carpenter's "Halloween".
The early promise that Argento showed with "Bird..." continues in this film - the train station scene is particularly well executed and there is an impressive climax. As with many of his other films, Argento also throws in an assortment of odd characters, red herrings and plot twists in true giallo film tradition. Ennio Morricone provided the music score (he has also scored four other Argento films to date) and the main theme is particularly haunting and beautiful.
I am not sure which version of "The Cat O'Nine Tails" Joao Lourenco watched but this American DVD release from Anchor Bay presents the film uncut and in its correct wide screen ratio of 2.35:1. Sound and picture quality is pretty good and you have the options of English, Italian or French language. The film has 27 chapters and the extra features include interviews, trailers, tv and radio spots, biographies and a gallery.
If you like Dario Argento movies or giallo films then I recommend that you check out this film but bear in mind that it is more of a murder-mystery rather than an horror movie so don't expect the gory excesses of some of Argento's other films such as "Suspiria", "Tenebrae" or "Opera".
on 28 October 2009
Arno a blind man is walking with his young niece when he overhears two men talking in a car. What he hears is that they are planning to blackmail somebody. A few days later his niece sees the man from the car has been killed in a train accident. So Arno gets in contact with reporter Carlo and the two attempt to solve the mystery.
This was the second part of Dario Argento's Animal trilogy, the first was his classic Bird with the Crystal Plummage and the third would be Four Flies on Grey Velvet. I read online that this was the least favourite of all the movies he made, I actually really enjoyed it and found it better than some of his later work.
In the lead as Carlo the confident news reporter we have James Franciscus. I was actually disappointed he didn't go onto make more of these films as I felt he really suited the Giallo genre he did go to make a few more Italian movies such as Killer Fish and Great White two very average films. As Arno we have old Hollywood actor Karl Malden and he is also equally impressive as the blind man who has a knife hidden inside he walking stick. Also supporting actors include Horst Frank as a suspicious gay doctor and Catherine Spaak as a untrustworthy love interest of Carlo.
As with Bird with a Crystal Plummage Dario didn't really go all out for the gory death sequences. We do however get one violent scene where a woman is strangled to death, by the unseen killer and the how sequence is very well made and well acted by the actress (Rada Rassimov).
The climax is not shocking or as memorable as some of his other films but he is able to build up suspension very well in other scenes. The best been when Carlo is locked inside a tomb and when the doors open he sees Arno standing with his bloody cane and without his glasses, unsure of whether he is a killer or not.
Ennio Morricone's music is beautiful but one of his less known scores but still impressive none the less.
Overall I thought it was a very good film and one all Giallo fans must watch
GREAT DVD QUALITY and some interesting extras
on 5 October 2012
Late one night, a blind ex-reporter named Franco Arno and his niece, Lori, are walking home. When Arno hears the word blackmail said between two men in a parked car, he stops to tie his shoe lace and asks Lori to look at who's in the car. A little while later a man knocks out a security guard and breaks into a medical facility, the facility is next to Arno's apartment and it was in front of the facility that he heard the men in the car. The day after whilst walking home, a reporter called Carlo Giordani bumps into Arno, he apologises and the two men talk briefly about what's going on at the medical facility. Some time later a doctor tells his fiancée that he knows what was stolen and has agreed to meet with them at the train station. As he's waiting, he's pushed on to the track as the train pulls in. The day after, Lori starts reading the newspaper to Arno and recognises the doctor as one of the men she saw in the car a few nights before. Suddenly Arno feels that the doctor may have been murdered and goes to see Carlo, he asks Carlo to find out whether the picture in the paper showing the supposed accidental death of the doctor was cropped. After a phone call to the photographer that took the photo, he checks the negative and realises that a hand is in the corner of the frame and almost definitely had pushed the man on to the track. As Carlo and Arno set off to see the photographer, a killer sneaks in and brutally murders him and takes the evidence. With the two now absolutely convinced that the murders are linked, they set out to solve the case. Just as they seem to be getting somewhere, more bodies appear and evidence disappears. The closer to solving the case they get, the closer the killer gets to them.
Karl Malden gives a good performance as Franco Arno, he played the role of a blind man excellently. He appeared in The Cat o' Nine Tails the year before he had huge success with the popular TV show, The Streets Of San Francisco, a show which also gave Michael Douglas his big break as Malden's partner. James Franciscus stole the show as smooth talking reporter, Carlo Giordani, it's through his character that we start to solve the case. He himself had a bit of success the year before with the first Planet Of The Apes sequel, in which he was the main star until the last ten minutes when he and Charlton Heston have to work together. Catherine Spaak does okay as the daughter of the man in charge at the medical complex, and later becomes the love interest for Franciscus' character. Some of the supporting characters do a good job, Rada Rassimov, sister of the well known Italian actor, Ivan Rassimov, shines in her short time in the film, she probably also has the most violent death. Ugo Fangareggi was quite memorable as a character called Gigi the Loser, he looks like a cross between Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy and Jaws from the Bond films, he gives the film a bit of humour which was very welcome.
It's stylishly directed by Dario Argento, it was his second film after The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. He also made a film called Four Flies on Grey Velvet quickly after Cat o' Nine Tails, the three films make up Argento's Animal trilogy. Argento has commented several times that he believes this film to be the worst of the trilogy, something I think I would agree with. I believe he's also said that this is his least favourite of all his films, I really couldn't disagree more. The Cat o' Nine Tails is better than everything else he made after Terror at the Opera in 1987, but of course that's just my opinion. He made The Cat o' Nine Tails for an American company who wanted to build on the success of his first film, it was far more successful than The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and made him a househould name and a director to keep an eye on, something he would emphatically reinforce with the outstanding Deep Red a few years later. I really like the plot of the film despite the fact it's a little convoluted at times, it's a classic murder mystery. It does drag at times, and the outlandish use of music, colour and blood that he's famous for wasn't really on show here, that would later start to show in Deep Red and then brilliantly in Suspiria which is a fantastic assault on the eyes and ears. The music is very well done by Ennio Morricone, but it does lack the excitement and creepiness of the Goblin soundtracks in some of his later films. There's a very brief scene of nudity, and it's very light in the blood and gore department.
The Blu-ray is very good. The picture quality easily surpasses the worn out, tired DVD I previously had. There's a thin layer of grain, it's never intrusive and seems very natural. The colour and detail behind the grain is a phenomenal upgrade, blacks are excellent, on my DVD the black was more of a pixelated grey. The night time scenes are very good, some of the scenes outside in the sunlight are stunning. Everything is crisp and clean, and there's always great detail in clothing or furniture. Arrow have been heavily criticised for some of their Blu-ray releases, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this one. I can also confirm that Argento's Inferno and Phenomena also look excellent on Blu-ray from Arrow. The extras aren't as good as on some of their other Blu-ray discs, there's basically just a trailer and three interviews. There's a 10 minute interview with Dario Argento where he briefly discusses the film, a 16 minute interview with Luigi Cozzi and a 23 minute interview with one of the few Italian directors who made as many great gialli as Argento, if not more, Sergio Martino, the director of The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion's Tail, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, All the Colors of the Dark and Torso talks about his own gialli and Argento's. There's the usual choice of 4 different front covers, a double sided poster, a Cat o' Nine Tails booklet and another booklet showing Arrow's other available DVDs and Blu-rays. The option to watch the film in Italian with subtitles or in English is available, my old DVD just had the English soundtrack. The main menu page on the Blu-ray looks brilliant as well.
The Cat o' Nine Tails is probably Argento's worst giallo or horror film of the '70s and early '80s, but it's still a very good film which I think says quite a lot about Argento's early career. I know Argento feels that the film is too similar to the American films that influenced it, but it's miles ahead of films like Phantom of the Opera, The Card Player and Giallo in terms of style, plot and fun. If you're thinking of buying this, chances are you're already a fan of the film and was just wondering whether the upgrade to Blu-ray is worth buying the film again. I can definitely recommend any fans to replace your old DVD, this is by far the best I've ever seen the film look.
on 22 November 2013
I have to admit, at the moment i am addicted to the Italian horror/thriller genre and especially Argento. This, one of his earlier efforts is typical of his style, the plot isn't particularly convoluted and you may (or may not) deduce who the killer is early on, but that doesn't matter... it's the journey that counts, and although not as gory or violent as some of his later films Cat O Nine Tails is a feast for the eyes. Oh and the late great Karl Malden is in it, how cool is that??
on 7 December 2002
Second movie of the "animal title serie" of italian director Dario Argento, the 1971 THE CAT O'NINE TAILS is a giallo, a term coming from the color of a serie of italian mystery books published in the early sixties. A special aesthetics, sex and gory murders characterize this peculiar genre.
Karl Malden, as a blind former journalist, does a terrific job in the movie that has some scenes worthy to appear in an anthology. I particularly liked the scene in the cemetery when James Franciscus is locked in a vault with a dozen coffins. Several years later, Dario Argento would have put some horror ingredients in the scene such as the resurrection of one of the dead but in THE CAT O'NINE TAILS, only the claustrophobic mood of the situation interested him.
I've also liked the artisanal special effects created by Argento which are, in my opinion, as scary and efficient as those generated nowadays by our beloved computers. The italian director shows with his technical skill that he is really Mario Bava's spiritual son.
A DVD zone WWF.
on 6 September 2015
This is Dario Argento I love. Myabe not as great as in Deep Red or Four flies, but so good at redefining the paths of thriller and noir. Karl Malden is a great blind man, totally believable, and Argento proves to be one of the best to exploit that to create a constant sense of threat, playing a lot with sound and sudden details and editing cuts. Maybe the ending is,as usual with him, not so satisfying, but still it is a totally enjoyable and personal thriller
on 12 February 2009
You have to baer in mind that Argento was in 1971 not the accomlished film maker he is today. So naturally The Cat of Nine Tails is bound to be seen critical in comparison to his later work. But unless we are Wunderkinder all of us learn from our mistakes. One of the main issues about the film is that it is just too long. I caught myself losing interest in the story every 15 minutes or so only to be drawn back into it violently. Visually the film is well made with some great scenes which really show promise. There is a great late night scene at the cemetery for example, the murders are well executed (no pun intended) and he also does some great work with eyes as symbols (Blind hero, killer's eyes) although he doesn't pull it off completely from my point of view.There are a lot of good elements but you can see that he is still developing at that point in his career. The cast is great: ultra-cool James Franciscus, ultra-sexy Cathrine Spaak and Karl Malden in an exquisite performance as blind ex-journalist. It was actually one of the very few films Malden did outside of the States. All in all, it's a film well worth watching.
on 11 February 2014
This movie about a series of murders of people associated with a medical research laboratory was the second film directed by Dario Argento, and it helped to consolidate the success he had enjoyed with his debut feauture, 'L'Ucello dalle Piume di Cristallo/The Bird with the Crystal Plumage' (1970). Like the first film it boasts a classy music score by Ennio Morricone, and a series of inventively staged murders, in this case at a railway station and in a lift shaft. Argento has expressed dissatisfaction with the film because it is too similar to the American thrillers that had influenced him, and I think that the movie is less distinctive than 'L'Ucello dalle Piume di Cristallo' or 'Profondo Rosso/Deep Red' (1975).
However the story, which was co-written by Argento and Dardano Sacchetti, who scripted the 1979 Lucio Fulci film 'Zombi 2', is consistently interesting, and the cast is good. Karl Malden is particularly good as Franco Arno, a blind crossword puzzle writer, with good support from Cinzi de Carolis, who plays Arno's niece, Lori, and James Franciscus, who plays a crime reporter called Carlo Giordani. Franciscus was at the height of his fame at the time this film was made following the box office success of 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' (1970) in which he played the male lead.
One curious thing about the Arrowdrome DVD is the fact that the titles are in English with the title of the film given as 'The Cat O'Nine Tails' rather than the original Italian title, 'Il gatto a nove code'. When I saw this I assumed that the print on the DVD was a dubbed English version, like the 'Deep Red' DVD from Arrowdrome, and the DVD sleeve does state that the language is English. However, as it turned out the dialogue was spoken in Italian with English subtitles. This suited me fine because I prefer subtitles to dubbing.
Il gatto a nove code (The Cat O' Nine Tails) is written and directed by Dario Argento. It stars Karl Malden, James Franciscus, Catherine Spaak, Horst Frank, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero and Rada Rassimov. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Erico Menczer.
Blind puzzle solver Franco Arno (Malden) and newspaper man Carlo Giordani (Franciscus) team up to see if they can solve the mystery of the murders that are terrifying the city. With their own lives becoming increasingly in danger, and the lines of investigation splintered all over the place, the men are drawn to the mysterious Terzi Institute where geneticists are tampering with gene patterns...
Argento doesn't like it and the fans are very much divided about the worth of it on the Argento curriculum vitae, yet The Cat O' Nine Tails is a delightfully entertaining oddity.
The plot is labyrinthine with relish on top, spinning the viewers into the same convoluted investigative maze that Messrs Arno and Giordani find themselves in. In fact, it's near genius that it rarely makes sense under inspection, yet still there's a fascinating edge to the story, with its characterisations, sexual kinks and cruel murders, there's a power to the piece that rewards if you can just run with it, buy into Argento's Giallo singed world.
With Malden turning in a great performance and Franciscus performing to a level nobody thought was in him, the lead characters really come to life. Add to that Morricone's creepy jazzy-garde fuelled score underlining the skew-whiff nature of the beast, and Menczer's photography tonally muted, tech credits are at one with the themes ticking away in the narrative, a narrative that has observation, ironically, on vision, sight and minds eye. While there's a couple of rug-pulls jostling for our attention just to keep things twisty.
Then there is the director himself. The Cat O' Nine Tails finds him restrained compared to the excess of style over substance films that would dominate his oeuvre post release of The Cat. That's not to say there isn't style here, there's plenty as Argento dallies in POV, iris vision, and a nifty trick that gives the blind Arno "sight", further ensuring that the supposed handicapped character is the key player and potential saviour of all. A number of scenes are bursting at the seams with suspense, with a cemetery/mausoleum sequence top draw, for sure Argento is firmly getting in his stride here.
It's not a gore movie, something which I personally think has led to some of Argento's fans giving the film the cold shoulder, but it's the tale (or tails of course) and characterisations that hold it up as being under valued. It's a Giallo whodunit flecked with sexual stings and no little amount style draped all over it. 7/10
on 14 November 2011
With the success of Argento's unforgettable debut, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE, he had a lot to live up to with his next film. Could he do it? You bet he could!
His follow-up CAT O'NINE TAILS is an incredible thriller that's just as involving, enjoyable and beautifully filmed as BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE yet criminally underated! Whilst it may be just shy of his all time masterpieces such as SUSPIRIA, BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE, TENEBRAE and DEEP RED, it's one of the best gialli ever made. The story is bound to keep you on the edge of your seat with all the twists and red herrings it throws at you. Besides the incredible direction of the film, the musical score alone is something truly special. Like most of Argento's films, the music is incredible and this is no expection. From the mind of one of cinema's greatest compossers, Ennio Morricone, the CAT O'NINE TAILS score is among the best in any Argento films and really adds a lot to this film.
The Blu-Ray itself is easily the best out there. Stuffed with exclusive extras, 4 artwork panels, and a very informative booklet by Argento-Guru, Alan Jones, Arrow's release of this classic film is the easily the best you can get, beating the BU version hands down.
Whilst it may not be Argento's personal favourite film, CAT O'NINE TAILS is a fan favourite and is one of the most enjoyable and involving Italian thrillers you'll ever see. This film marks a time when Argento was on top form, unlike now with his terrible recent releases such as *vomits* GIALLO (avoid that film!).
Overall, I highly recommend this film!