Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats. Film Review

DIRECTOR: Lucio Fulci
SCREENPLAY: Lucio Fulci, Biagi Proietti
STARRING: David Warbeck, Mimsy Farmer, Patrick Magee, Al Cliver, Dagmar Lassander
FORMAT: Blu-ray/DVD (dual format)

DIRECTOR: Sergio Martino
SCREENPLAY: Adriano Bolzoni, Ernesto Castaldi
STARRING: Edwige Fenech, Edwige Fenech, Edwige Fenech
FORMAT: Blu-ray/DVD (dual format)

Reviewed by Guy Adams

Horror cinema is just like the Internet, not only is it filled with horrible people but you can’t move for the cats. This box set brings together two Italian movies inspired (loosely, naturally) by Poe’s short story.

In Lucio Fulci’s tale, that master of subtlety and aenigma (*coughs politely*) brings us a homicidal black cat terrorising a rural English village. A rural English village almost entirely populated by Italians, like pod people aliens, hiding their European ways behind dubbing and a knowing wink. Keeping the British end up is Patrick Magee, hoovering up the scenery and recording tapes of the dead in the local graveyard.

The local police are aided by New Zealander, David Warbeck (delivering his usual charming performance in the face of Kensington gore) who promptly joins forces with American Mimsy Farmer, no doubt because he’s seen Four Flies on Grey Velvet and knows she’s worth keeping a close eye on.

It’s as if Midsomer Murders has been drinking.

Like most of Fulci’s movies (and this is one of his best) the threadbare nonsense of it all doesn’t matter one jot because it’s a fun, stylish, atmospheric romp, bolstered by a gorgeous score from Pino Donaggio. It looks great and delivers in both creeping tension and crowd-pleasing titillation. Joyous, absurd fun from beginning to end.

Extras on the disc include a commentary from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander, interviews with Dagmar Lassander and David Warbeck (the former new, the latter archive), Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower discussing the movie and a feature on the locations.

The second movie, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, brings us to (Edwige Fenech) Sergio Martino, a director who spent a career in search of the perfect giallo title – The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (Edwige Fenech), The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale, All the Colours of the Dark (Edwige Fenech) – only to hit the nail on the head with this one, much to the chagrin of cover designers everywhere.

Luigi Pistilli plays odious writer (not tautology, whatever editors say) who likes nothing more than drinking breakfast vodka, indulging his black cat and abusing his wife Irina (Strindberg). If nothing else it takes his mind off his Oddbins bills and being accused of murder. Then Edwige Fenech (Edwige Fenech) turns up and starts sleeping with Strindberg and it all gets terribly Italian.

Not Martino’s best giallo (All the Colours of the Dark starring Edwige Fenech) but a fruity, stylish offering nonetheless which offers plenty of (Edwige Fenech) the obligatory twists and turns required by the genre while weaving in the treacherous black tufts of pussy (Edwige Fenech) that make it a homage to Poe.

It also stars Edwige Fenech. Who I quite like.

Extras on this disc include: a new interview with Martino; a making of the movie featuring interviews with cast and crew; a video essay on Martino’s Giallo career by Michael Mackenzie; a piece on the careers of Strindberg and Fenech and Eli Roth gushing over Martino (as well he might).

A welcome pair of Italian pleasures, beautifully restored, loaded with extras and beautifully packaged (Edwige Fenech).