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Il Gatto a Nove Code

The Cat o' Nine Tails
Le Chat à Neuf Queues / Die Neunschwänzige Katze

Italy / France / West Germany 1971
produced by
Salvatore Argento for Seda Spettacoli, Labrador Films, Terra Filmkunst
directed by Dario Argento
starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi, Horst Frank, Cinzia De Carolis, Rada Rassimov, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero, Werner Pochath, Tino Carraro, Vittorio Congia, Ugo Fangareggi, Tom Felleghy, Emilio Marchesini, Fulvio Mingozzi, Corrado Olmi, Pino Patti, Umberto Raho, Jacques Stany, Stefano Oppedisano, Alda Pometti, Maria Luise Zetha (= Marie Louise Sinclair), Sascha Helwin
story by Dario Argento, Luigi Collo, Dardano Sacchetti, screenplay by Dario Argento, music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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A murder happens, the night watchman of the Terzi Institute for Genetic Biology is killed. Curiously enough, nothing seems to be stolen. The next day, Doctor Calabresi (Carlo Alighiero) falls in front of a train ... an accident of course, or is it?

Only blind man and former reporter Franco (Karl Malden) is sure it was murder, so he and Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), the girl he takes care of, soon enlist the help of Giordani (James Franciscus), a befriended journalist, and soon Franco manages to convince Giordani of his murder theory, and the three start investigating on their own. Soon though they have come up with nine different lead (hence the title), and have to pretty much follow each one, while dead bodies start to pile up around them.

Some differnet leads are:

-) The institute's research into DNA that identifies persons with an XYY-DNA helix as criminals.

-) The strange relationship between institute owner Terzi (Tina Carraro) and his daughter Anna (Catherine Spaak), who turns out not to be his daughter at all but his lover. (Anna by the way soon has an affair with Giordani.)

-) A love triangle involving the institute's gay doctor Braun (Horst Frank) and his lover Manuel (Werner Pochath).

-) A story about blackmail involving Calabresi and his fiancee Bianca (Rada Rassimov) ... but soon, Bianca dies as well.

... and so on.

The investigations lead our heroic trio to some weird spots like a gay nightclub or a graveyard at night (where they have to do a little graverobbing), and eventually they find their lives endangered - so much so that Franco even has to send Lori, his substitute eyes, away. But then the killer kidnaps Lori ...

 

Sure, this giallo (Italian horror/murder mystery hybrid) is rather weak on narrative logic and often far-fetched in its storyline (a fate it shares with many other gialli), with the killer pulled out of a hat rather than logically deducted in the end - but at the same time it's a breathtakingly beautiful (in a macabre way) film, with many a suspense setpiece that shows an expert mastery of combining great camerawork with exciting music, sparkled with interesting and colourful characters played by a strong ensemble cast, and many a bizarre situation to keep one interested. Sure, as good as this looks and feels, it isn't yet director Dario Argento in full force - but a great (and very entertaining) precursor of things to come, and definitely worth a watch!

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD