February 2018


The Cat O’ Nine Tails
Arrow Films/MVD
Blu-ray Review By: Jaime Pina

Released in 1971 Dario Argento’s second film didn’t quite follow through on the promise of his first film The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. While all the elements that would make him an icon were there, interesting camera set-ups, a haunted and misplaced lead character and stylized violence, this second effort seems a little light on those trademarks. It is however, the second installment of the director’s “Animal Trilogy” and is an essential item for the Argento completist and deserves a special release.

James Franciscus (The Valley Of Gwangi, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Longstreet) stars as a reporter looking into a break-in at a research institute. While speaking to the police he is approached by a blind man played by Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire, Baby Doll, The Streets Of San Francisco) and his young niece who introduces himself and they part ways. After learning of a murder tied to the institute Malden goes to Franciscus and reveals he was a reporter himself before he lost his sight and thinks there is something fishy going on. They join forces when Malden says he had heard someone in a car discussing blackmail in front of the institute before the murder. As the men start to make headway into the case their lives become endangered leading to the kidnapping of Malden’s niece.

Long on sleuthing and short of imaginative murder scenes the film works as a complicated murder mystery and it appears that was what was intended. If approached as a fine Giallo starring some name American actors with heavyweight Italian names like Argento, Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Alien Contamination) and Dardano Sachetti (Bay Of Blood, Zombie, The Beyond) then it is enjoyable for what it is. And without giving it away, the climax is an absolute stunner and quite a reward.

This Arrow release looks and sounds fantastic with Ennio Moricone’s bumping bass heavy score pumping at certain points. Included are new interviews with Argento, Sachetti and actress Cinzia De Carolis who played Lori.