'The Black Cat' [Blu ray]
(David Warbeck, Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2015 / Arrow Films-MVD)
Overview: Edgar Allan Poe's celebrated story 'The Black Cat' has provided the inspiration for numerous films over the years. But few adaptations are as stylish as those offered up by the twin Italian titans of terror, Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci.
Blu ray Verdict: Newly re-mastered in HD and from the original negative, fans can enjoy the double-dose of terror that is Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cats Italian-style! In Martino's classic giallo "Your Vice is a Locked Room" and "Only I Have the Key", teacher Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli, A Bay of Blood) finds himself under suspicion for murder when one of his students and mistress is found brutally murdered. As more bodies start to pile up, the arrival of Oliviero's attractive niece (Edwige Fenech, Five Dolls for an August Moon, All the Colours of the Dark) brings with it complications of its own.
In "The Black Cat", from that other Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci (Zombie), Scotland Yard Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck, The Beyond) find himself summoned to a sleepy English village to investigate the recent murder of a young couple. With no obvious signs of entry at the murder scene, Gorley is forced to start considering the possibility that his suspect may not be human!
Although released as a double bill box-set, let's concentrate (for now) simply on my favorite film of the tow, 'The Black Cat.' For indeed, the cat is the main masterpiece of this movie! It is personified beautifully, Lucio Fulci giving the cat it's own character which makes the whole piece very eerie indeed. The idea of having a cat, especially one that looks as evil as the one in this movie, doing the killing is different, fun and strangely, it works! The murders that the cat commits are inventive and imaginative and overall, this is a very decent movie, which deserves a lot more praise than it's getting.
Lucio Fulci has directed a few movies that have won high praise among horror fanatics; The Beyond and Zombie Flesh Eaters, most notably, but this movie easily deserves equal praise. Unlike the majority of Fulci's repertoire, The Black Cat is low gore and relies more on the Gothic and eerie atmosphere to deliver it's scares - and it works a treat.
The film, based on a story by the master of Gothic horror, Edgar Allen Poe, is set in a quiet town in England and follows the story of Professor Robert Miles (Patrick Magee) that is able to control the mind of his cat in order to take out his vengeance on various people. One of the best things about this movie is the way that the relationship between man and cat is presented. We can almost feel the antagonism between the two characters, shown by the cat attacking Magee, and him saying that the cat will eventually kill him.
This movie features some sequences that are at the very top of horror cinema, most notably the very creepy and atmospheric sequence in which Magee attempts to strangle the malevolent animal. Lucio Fulci is able to direct this scene so it both believable and frightening. His direction throughout this movie is competent and throughout the movie, it is surprising that this is a movie by the same man that brought us the disgusting zombie gore-fests due to it's level of constraint! Finally together on Blu-ray and in stunning new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives, check out (and buy) "Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cats - Two Adaptations By Sergio Martino & Lucio Fulci (4-Disc Limited Special Edition)" [Blu-ray + DVD] box-set today! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
* Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
* Limited Edition 80-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the films, Poe's original story and more, illustrated with archive stills and posters
* Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror - The Films of Lucio Fulci, on The Black Cat
* Brand new interview with director Sergio Martino
* Dolls of Flesh and Blood: The Gialli of Sergio Martino - a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring Sergio Martino's unique contributions to the giallo gen
* Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
* Brand new 2k restorations of the films from the original camera negatives