A Movie A Day: THE BLACK CAT (1981)
Cats take orders from no one.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next installment of A Movie A Day: Halloween 2010 edition!
[For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf or streamed via Netflix Instant and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.]
I have Fallout New Vegas in my Xbox right now. I want you folks to know just how much I respect the constant readers of this column that I could exert the willpower to actually get this column out today. It’s not on time (well, it is if you’re on the West Coast!), but that’s more to do with my stupid dawn to dusk sleep schedule than a video game.
That willpower was doubly tested when the movie started and played out so… mediocre.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Lucio Fulci. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I enjoy his work more than Dario Argento’s. Argento at his best is the better filmmaker by a large margin, but Fulci’s movies always swing for the fences and go for the entertainment.
Whether it’s the undead fighting a shark underwater in ZOMBIE or the evil dead preacher making that poor woman puke out her guts and cry blood in CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD that dude’s movies are just Fun. Yes, with a capital F.
Unfortunately, The Black Cat, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s story, is just silly. Not really fun, kinda tedious, but definitely silly.
If you’re going to make a horror movie you have to do everything you can to help your audience suspend disbelief, especially if a psychic murderous cat is your bad guy.
It’s not easy to suspend disbelief when your bad guy looks just like a happy cat walking across the camera or sitting non-threateningly as you overlay a nasty cat screech over the soundtrack. It’s also not easy to suspend disbelief when you have multiple cats that don’t look a thing like each other used from shot to shot.
I counted at least three different cats that I could easily differentiate between. There was a small, skinny cat, a fluffy cat and a big cat. I guess Fulci thought no one would notice because all black cats look alike. One, that’s racist. Two, we do notice and it’s a distraction.
The plot revolves around a small town riddled with strange deaths. An American photographer lady with a bad haircut finds herself mixed up in it as she stumbles upon a creepy old man who likes to take his tape recorder out to the cemetery to record the dead.
He seems to have some kind of supernatural power and has a deadly relationship with his black cat. This cat attacks him regularly, but he states that they need each other. Of course, this evil cat doesn’t need nobody to do its evil deeds and proceeds to kill a bunch of people… sometimes it hypnotizes them with it’s crazy cat eyes and forces them to drive into parked cars, sometimes it knocks over a gas lamp and sets a house on fire. You never can tell what these evil pussycats will do.
Fulci is known for his kills and while there are a few good moments (the standout being the creepy motorized dummy puppet that flails around while engulfed in flames) I’m sorry to say most of the kill scenes are uninspired. There’s still that Fulci brutality to them, like the car crash guy whose head bloodily smashes through the front windshield before catching on fire, but on the whole they were a little dull.
In a good film that wouldn’t matter, but in a film as silly as this it’s the kiss of mediocrity.
The old man is played by Patrick Magee who I will only ever see as the revenge seeking old man with Darth Vader as his muscle in Stanley Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (“More wine… ALEX?”) and he, assisted by his thick wiry salt and pepper eyebrows, is the stand-out of the film, the reason to watch. He’s not even given very much to do, I just seeing him as a lead, a supposedly sympathetic villain who is only slightly sympathetic and only slightly a villain.
Final Thoughts: The movie’s just mediocre. It’s silly, but not stupid fun. The tone is all wrong. Either the material has to be shot serious as a heart attack or it has to be fun as all hell and this is neither, so you’re left with a film that’s okay. It has moments, but that’s not really enough to justify a recommendation. I’d say only for Fulci or genre completists.
Currently in print on DVD: YES
Currently available on Netflix Instant: NO
Wednesday, October 20th: THE BLACK CAT (1934)
Thursday, October 21st: THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963)
Friday, October 22nd: DOLLS (1987)
Saturday, October 23rd: SILENT SCREAM (1980)
Sunday, October 24th: SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
Monday, October 25th: THE MEPHISTO WALTZ (1971)
Tuesday, October 26th: THE OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (1981)
Tomorrow is what I hope is a classier version of the Poe story starring the great Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff! See ya’ then!
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Previous AMAD 2010’s:
- Raw Meat (1972)
- Ghost Story (1981)
- Two on a Guillotine (1965)
- Tentacles (1977)
- Bad Ronald (1974)
- The Entity (1983)
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Return of Doctor X (1939)
- The Tenant (1976)
- Man in the Attic (1953)
- New Year’s Evil (1980)
- Prophecy (1979)
- The Other (1972)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Gorgon (1964)
- Mad Love (1935)
- Repulsion (1965)
- The Church (1989)
Click here for the full 215 movie run of A Movie A Day!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Oct. 20, 2010, 12:10 a.m. CST
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:14 a.m. CST
I posted first, then read the article & I'm still 2nd
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:20 a.m. CST
Now we can all post. I enjoyed watching The Video Dead last night, but unfortunately (or fortunately based on this review) I haven't watched The Black Cat. I look forward to the write up about Dolls.
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:27 a.m. CST
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:35 a.m. CST
..of the black panthers they used in Team America.
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:03 a.m. CST
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:04 a.m. CST
fucked up posting, but really. I've always wondered why you guys didn't have a gaming section to this site, seeing as you already cover comics, anime, movies, tv, and toys
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:16 a.m. CST
Meanwhile, Tom Bosley is dead.
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:42 a.m. CST
Just to warn you, Quint, things are about to get really batshit insane.
Oct. 20, 2010, 2:27 a.m. CST
by Charlie & Tex
...well, maybe with the exception of Ratman.
Oct. 20, 2010, 2:46 a.m. CST
It's quite handy actually. I'm excited to see what you think of tomorrow's movie!
Oct. 20, 2010, 2:54 a.m. CST
by The Guy Who Slept Through Everything.
I liked it.
Oct. 20, 2010, 3:02 a.m. CST
That's number 3, right? So its over now?
Oct. 20, 2010, 3:58 a.m. CST
...but then i did look past it's mediocrity to get there :-)
Oct. 20, 2010, 4:23 a.m. CST
Say it aint so.
Oct. 20, 2010, 7:40 a.m. CST
...as a kid, I thought Richie Cunningham's dad and Charlie's assistant on Charlie's Angels were the same guy. Later I wised up, but it was still freaky that the Angels character was named Bosley and the Happy Days dad was played by a guy who was really named Bosley. RIP to Tom Bosley, anyway.
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:15 a.m. CST
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:43 a.m. CST
Where is Mr. C's obit?
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:49 a.m. CST
Lil fuckers love biting on my fingers. Cool Movie poster BTW.And to be honest, Black Cat isn't one of fulci's best films.I'll rate Beyond way over this one.
Oct. 20, 2010, 9:24 a.m. CST
Would love to have a TB for a game, for a change.
Oct. 20, 2010, 9:30 a.m. CST
Quite a mean little movie in a lot of ways. While nowhere near as great as the original, both Omen sequels were pretty good (pretty dark subject matter for the Final Conflict if you think about it - killing hundreds of babies, including ironing one to death).
Oct. 20, 2010, 9:55 a.m. CST
I am excited to hear what you have to say about this next one. I loved it! And it's directed by Ulmer, whom most people know from Detour.
Oct. 20, 2010, 10:27 a.m. CST
Where the hell is the OBIT you heartless snobs!!!
Oct. 20, 2010, 10:40 a.m. CST
...that I always do a double take when tits suddenly pop up unexpectedly in a trailer. My attention was beginning to lag halfway through that Cat video above (I couldn't tell the difference between the cats there... but then, I'm not really a cat person) but the topless babe perked my interest right back up to finish the promo.
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:35 a.m. CST
You're talking... about... CATS!! Not people. CATS!!<P>All white cats look alike too. Good, grief. You poor, liberal victims. Enough already.
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:37 a.m. CST
Do you hear a piece rattling around inside as you walk?
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:46 p.m. CST
was also excellent as The Chevalier de Balibari in Barry Lyndon.
Oct. 20, 2010, 1:37 p.m. CST
...after the review, I didn't want to see this. But after watching the trailer, I really do. What to do.
Oct. 20, 2010, 3:29 p.m. CST
The Mephisto Waltz is great, but House on Skull Mountain is shit! Shit, I say!
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:17 p.m. CST
Oct. 20, 2010, 8:28 p.m. CST
Oct. 21, 2010, 6:26 p.m. CST
Don't even entertain the debate. Instead, ridicule the messenger.<P>Alinsky has taught you well.
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