The Crimes Of The Black Cat - The Crimes Of The Black Cat( Blu Ray) [Cauldron Films - 2021]
The Crimes Of The Black Cat is an early 70’s gialli of Italian/ Danish origins, which follows a blind pianist/ soundtrack composer trying to figure out who's commits a series of murders relating to a fashion house. It’s a rewardingly twisting ‘n’ turning, if at times slightly cliched example of the genre- with a black-gloved killer and hatted killer, an amateur sleuth who's determined to get to the truth, and a selection shifty/ sleazed suspect. Though there are some original-to-nasty touches here and there, many of the murders are committed by a cat that has had its claws dipped in poison, and we get a very extreme nude slower slashing scene towards the end of proceedings. Here from Caldron films, an up 'n' coming genre reissue label is a recent reissue of this lesser-seen gialli - with the disc featuring two new commentary tracks, and a few other extras.
The Crimes Of The Black Cat aka Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk, Crimes, or its original title Sette scialli di seta gialla. It appeared in the year 1972, and was made after the success of Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The Crimes Of The Black Cat was directed/ co-written by Rome born and died Sergio Pastore. Between the years 1968 and 1987 he had twelve credits to his name- these went from the wonderfully named spaghetti western Chrysanthemums for a Bunch of Swine(1968), What looks like a matador family comedy(!?) Pin il monello(1982), and sleazed ‘n’ trashy Delitti(1987)- with much of his filmography staying firmly in Italy. And while The Crimes Of The Black Cat is clearly mimicking a lot of early Argento traits/ touches, there are enough individual quirks, amusingly campy/ sleazed characters, and the whole cat’s the killer thing to make it worth checking out for fans of the genre.
The film is set in the waterside city of Copenhagen- which gives the picture a fairly busy-yet stern to the shadowy backdrop. Playing the films lead character and amateur sleuth is Peter Oliver(Anthony Steffen) a suave-if-slightly pompous blind soundtrack composer/ pannist. He’s joined by his long severing butler Burton (Umberto Raho) and blond-haired beauty Margot (Shirley Corrigan) - secretary of the owner of the fashion house. Peter gets pulled into it all when his girlfriend, who recently dumped him by letter(!?), turns out dead in the fashion house with seemingly no one in the room except a basket, which quickly disappears. From here he tries to follow up one lead after another, but the killer is always there before he can get to question the connected person/ figure out what’s going on. The cops are involved, though as expected with this type of thing- they seem to be even further behind the curve and obtuse.Roger Batty
Kill wise we get a fair few ‘cat’ related kills- so for once the animal-related title is true and clear- there’s poisoned face scratches, claw to throat attacks, and cat at thrown in the face attacks. We get also get a few none cat-related kills most impressive been two switchblade ones, a throat slashing, and a really intense/ nasty shower kill with repeated deep breast attacks. There’s also bit and bobs of sleazed nudity. The plots twists ‘n’ turns are enjoyable, with Peter coming off more than a little Sherlock Holmes-like with some of his deducting. On the whole, The Crimes Of The Black Cat is a run-of-the-mill gialli with some worthy/ interested touches- so it won’t convert you to the Giallo genre, but if you are a fan you’ll enjoy what we have here.
Moving onto this new region free disc, and we get a 4K scan of the film- this largely looks good, though in places in a little dull in some of its picture/ colour definition. On the extras side, we get a nice/ good selection of stuff- first off we get two commentary tracks- the first is with genre expects Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. And as you’d expect this is very well researched/ fact & observation filled track- they move from talking about how this is one of thirty-three giallo films in 1972, discussing some of the more memorable addition to that year's releases, and touch on the various galli that used cats in their titles. They talk about the crew who appeared in other films in the genre and wider Italian horror cinema. Moving on to discuss the English dub, this is the first time it’s been released, and the various voice actors used. Later on, they discuss wacky murder weapons in other giallo films, comment on onscreen action/ acting. They chat generally about the genre, talking about other films in the genre that have similar themes, and much more. The second track is from Fragments of Fear - A Giallo Podcast with Peter Jilmstad and Rachael Nisbet, and this is in reality not a formal commentary track but an episode of the pair's podcast focusing on the film to hand. It runs one hour and sixteen minutes and gives a good overview of the film, how it relates to the wider giallo genre, and general chat about the genre- it’s worth a play, and I’ll certainly be checking out the Fragments Of Fear podcast. Moving onto the other extras- and we get an on-screen interview with Sara Pastore, the daughter of the director. And this sees her giving a nice and found overview of her father’s career, and his other loves in life. Lastly, we get Un Ammirevole Indipendente- which is a seventeen-minute archive featurette that finds Sara once more discussing her father- this runs also seventeen minutes. Lastly, we get an original trailer and image gallery.
It's great to see this lesser-known gialli from the golden age of the genre get this wonderful Blu Ray release. Sure it’s not the most original or distinctive film, but it’s got some neat twists and turns, and of course, the really extreme last murder and a few of the other kills are well done. So if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s well worth picking up this release from Cauldron Films.