Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 7th, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 11th, 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Luigi Collo, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi
BluRay Release Date: January 29th, 2018 (UK), March 6th, 2018 (USA)
Approximate running time: 112 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Encoding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $49.95 (USA) / £24.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A blind-man named Franco Arno overhears two men arguing near the Terzi Institute. Unable to see who the two men, he has his adopted daughter Lori look at the men and described them to him. The next morning, Arno visits the Terzi Institute to see if anything happened the night before. And while at the institute he meets a reporter named Carlo Giordani, who has been assigned to write a story about a murder that happened last night. Unable to gain any headway in obtaining information about the story he is writing, due to everyone one of his leads turning up dead. He reluctantly teams up with Arno, one of the few induvial with knowledge about the killer’s identity, that has not been murder yet. Will they persistence uncover the killers’ identity or will they become the next victims?
Dario Argento has been called the Italian Alfred Hitchcock, though his style more resembles Brian De Palma’s. The Cat O’ Nine Tails was Dario Argento’s second film and it was part of his Animal Trilogy. The other two films’ in this trilogy are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Ennio Morricone composed the scores for these three films known as the Animal Trilogy.
While most of his contemporaries were working on shoe string budgets, Dario Argento’s resources were much larger because of his father producer Salvatore Argento. And because of this Dario Argento was able to hire American stars giving his production a more international appeal?
Dario Argento has referred to The Cat O’ Nine Tails, as his least favorite film as a director. And though, The Cat O’ Nine Tails doesn’t have the gore and violent set pieces, that have become synonymous with his later giallo’s. It more than makes up for its lack of visceral tone with its lush visual style.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails is arguably one of Dario Argento’s more experimental films. It was only his second film as a director and he was still finding himself as a filmmaker. In this film he uses several visual motifs, that he would return to many times throughout his career. Most notably, a shot of the killers’ eyeball and a subjective POV camera that stalks its victims, while concealing the identity of the killer.
Two standout scenes in this film include, an extremely well executed train death and the films tour de force finale. The combination of Dario Argento’s direction, the editing and Ennio Morricone’s score, make this film’s finale, one of Dario Argento’s best endings.
James Franciscus is laid back in the role of Carlo Giordani and Karl Malden in the role of Franco Arno, conveys a great deal of emotion through his facial expressions and his tone of voice. They make a great team and both actors delver solid performances.
Dario Argento’s previous film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, featured a more structured story-line, while The Cat O’ Nine Tails moves from one event to the next in a more fractured way. Ennio Morricone’s score starts off sweet, before transcending into some of his darkest jazz improvisations. Overall The Cat O’ Nine Tails may not be one of Dario Argento’s more popular films, still it is a fascinating Giallo unlike anything Dario Argento had done before or since.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release was sourced from a brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative. This new transfer from Arrow Video looks amazing. And when compared to previous home video releases, this new 4k transfer will be like seeing the film for the very first time. Areas of improvement include, image clarity, black levels and the color palette is noticeable different than previous home video releases for this film. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This Release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language track.
Extras for this release include, the Italian theatrical release trailer (1 minute 48 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the international theatrical trailer for the film (1 minute 54 seconds), the U.S. theatrical release trailer (1 minute 39 seconds), script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time (3 minutes 9 seconds), an interview with actress Cinzia De Carolis titled Child Star (11 minutes 2 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono titled Giallo in Turin (15 minutes 11 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with co-screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti titled The Writer O’ Many Tales (34 minutes 46 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with co-screenwriter / director Dario Argento titled Nine Lives (15 minutes 57 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman.
Topics discussed in the interview with Cinzia De Carolis include, her thoughts about acting, Cat O’ Nine Tails / onset memories, Dario Argento, The Night of the Devils, Cannibal Apocalypse and the work she has done in voice dubbing.
Topics discussed in the interview with Angelo Iacono include, Dario Argento, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, how the film was shot in Turin, his role as the production manager, the cast, Ennio Morricone and audience reaction to the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Dardano Sacchetti include, his cinema influences / origins as a screenwriter, the first time he met Dario Argento and how this evolved into a working relationship that has spanned several films, a youth film / Easy Rider type film that he was hired by Dario Argento to write and why this film was not made, the genesis of The Cat O’ Nine Tails, onset memories, how he had to fight to get onscreen credit for his writing contributions, Bay of Blood, Door into Darkness and his thoughts about The Cat O’ Nine Tails.
Topics discussed in the interview with Dario Argento include, the origins of The Cat O’ Nine Tails, Turin / locations, onset memories, the cast, production related topics, cinematographer Erico Menczer / the visuals, the film’s scripted ending and why he did not use it and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Dario Argento, background information about The Cat O’ Nine Tails, Titanus Distribuzione, the cast, how The Cat O’ Nine Tails compares to the other two films from the Animal Trilogy, Turin and Ennio Morricone / the score.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art, a double-sided fold-out poster, 4 lobby card reproductions and a thirty eight page booklet with cast & crew information, an article written by Dario Argento titled Murder in the Dark: Mystery and Madness in The Cat O’ Nine Tales, an essay titled Putting the Audience Through It written by Barry Forshaw, an essay titled Wipe That Expression of Sympathy from Your Face: Learning to Love Cat O’ Nine Tails written by Tory Howarth, an essay titled Grace Notes: The Voice and Music of Edda Dell’Orso written by Howard Hughes and information about the restoration / transfer.
Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall The Cat O’ Nine Tails gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.