THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1971) – The Dungeon Photo Review!

I’ve never been quite clear on when to use “Gialli” and when to use “Giallo” so I always lean towards the lingo ending with an “o” because it just sounds more delicious. Giallo, like any genre comes in many shapes and sizes. Most people think horror when they think Giallo, but by no means is that the case. There are plenty of Giallo that are just straight up thrillers, and Dario Argento’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails would fall under that category. I suppose if you are a fan of Argento and have seen few Giallo from other directors this particular entry may not resonate. It does not have the elaborately staged death sequences, and the dizzyingly beautiful and inventive camerawork of Argento’s later films but it most definitely has its assets. For starters it has a nicely laid out plot with some great twists and has one of the more coherent stories Argento has penned. It has a great finale too. I absolutely loved Karl Malden here as blind enigmatographer Franco Arno and his interaction with his little niece is absolutely charming. Handsome and macho James Franciscus plays reporter Carlo Giodani and what can I say? I like Franciscus; he is one of those manly Italian dudes I just find appealing. A bit of a strange pairing I suppose but it worked. Catherine Spaak, the films central female character Anna Terzi is strong and confident and she sure knows how to wear a pantsuit! The Cat O’ Nine Tails is not without its weaknesses however. There is some humour, and Argento is just bad at humour. I’ve found any time he has tried to use humour it generally falls flat. Fortunately these moments are few so it does not stain the overall effect much. The film does run a smidge too long also. The Cat O’ Nine Tails may not have those characteristics attributed to Argento’s better known work; it is nonetheless well-filmed with some creative shots. The death by train, crypt and elevator shaft scenes are particularly memorable. And of course it must be mentioned that Ennio Morricone’s fantastic soundtrack is scrumptious accompaniment. Strangely Argento cites The Cat O’ Nine Tails as his least favourite of his films. With all due respect (Argento has directed some of my favourite horror films of all time), this comment boggles my mind, as the man made some pretty crummy stuff after the 80s. The Cat O’ Nine Tails is not perfect, but I found it to be a very entertaining and engaging thriller.

An unfortunate guard at the Medical Research Institute

The killer lurks about the Institute’s empty halls.


Reporter Carlo Giodani meets blind enigmatographer Franco Arno after knocking the cane from his hand.


Anna Terzi catches the eye of Giodani as she enters the Institutes lobby.


One of the Institutes researchers stops a train with his face.

Arno’s niece reads him the headline from the paper and realizes a conversation he overheard the previous evening may be connected to the “accident”.


Arno goes to see Giodani and tells him about the conversation he overheard.


Giodani meets Anna Terzi. Sexy Anna not only rocks a pantsuit she drives like Mario Andretti.


The killer sends a limerick to Arno. “There once was an enigmatographer, who along with a nosey reporter, decided to pry, into why people die, making their own lives somewhat shorter.”

Giodani questions the researchers who are working on a project examining the variations of the chromosomes XYY which apparently indicate criminal tendencies.


Anna Terzi stops by Giodani’s for a different sort of interrogation.


A former lover of one of the researchers gives Giodani a tip.


Giodani and Arno go to the crypt of one of the victims in hopes of finding a clue hidden inside a piece of jewelry.


Giodani gets locked inside the crypt briefly. That’s what you get for making a blind guy your lookout!


Arno comes back to the crypt looking shaken and freaks Giodani out.


Arno’s niece gets dragged into the mess.


Giodani and Arno accompanied by the police at the Institute.


Elevator shafts are dangerous.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Dario Argento

Starring: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi, Horst Frank, Rada Rassimov, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero

5 Responses to “THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1971) – The Dungeon Photo Review!”

  1. I believe gialli is plural.

    • goregirl Says:

      I think I might have read something like that somewhere along the line. I’ve used it wrong all over the damn place. I suppose I should make a point of using it correctly going forward.

  2. Couldn’t agree more,Goregirl,why this is Argento’s least favorite movie is a mystery to me! I love this film and the music by Ennio Morricone. I find the ending to be quite effective. Vastly underrated movie. You have quickly become one of my favorite reviewers. I used to review films long ago in fanzines like European Trash Cinema and Videooze,but I’m now “retired” from the movie review scene. I enjoy your reviews lots! You have me as a fan/friend for life. Hope that’s okay! : )

    • goregirl Says:

      Thanks Conrad!! I get a lot of joy from this little blog. Connecting with people like yourself who dig this stuff and enjoy my reviews is what it’s all about for me!

  3. Victor De Leon Says:

    I’ve never seen this one. Looks good. Great review and I’ll look out for this title, thanks!

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