Day 9 of Shocktober and we’re on our second night of giallo with Dario Argento’s The Cat o’ Nine Tails – it’s not up there as one of our Argento classics and he admits he doesn’t rate it that highly either, saying it’s the least favourite of his movies. It’s overlong and a bit dull but still stylish and featuring some jumpy giallo moments. And poisoned milk. Beware the poisoned milk!
Blind characters feature heavily in Argento’s work and one of our protagonists here – Cookie (Karl Malden) – is a blind, middle-aged man. Cookie and his young niece Lori (Cinzia De Carolis) overhear a conversation about blackmail one night, which leads to a break-in at a medical complex and the murder of a scientist – and a subsequent high body count in typical giallo fashion. Reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) teams up with Cookie to find out who the killer is, putting their lives in danger too.
Convincing performances from Malden and Franciscus really make the film watchable. There’s some icky death scenes where – again, an Argento staple – you are put into the POV of the killer and the camera lingers far too long on your victims. But if you want to watch the work of Argento, do start with his later films – Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Demons (1985) and Opera (1987) are all classics. This is not.
GORE RATING: 2/5
Watch it for: James Franciscus is great
Watch out for: Poisoned milk!
Next up…The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)