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