The Black Cat

The Black Cat (1980)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Lucio Fulci Biography

If you are deathly afraid of cats, namely black cats, then this is the horror film that you’ve been waiting for! For, all others, welcome to a typical Lucio Fulci film. Fulci made ’The Black Cat’ during the early 80s, when he cranked out many films, which fans consider to be the benchmark for Italian gore cinema. However, fans and critics alike have often ignored or dismissed ’The Black Cat’. This is a mystery to me as the film is no different from any other Fulci film of the period, save for the lack of gore. And in this writer’s humble opinion, ’The Black Cat’ is actually one of Fulci’s better efforts, which leads me to believe that Fulci-philes may want to give this movie a second chance.

Now, stating that ’The Black Cat’ is a superior Fulci film, doesn’t necessarily imply that it is a good movie. The film is set in a small English village, which has seen a recent rash of mysterious deaths. (What’s mysterious is how a car can suddenly crash, but it takes the drivers a long time to be thrown from the car… maybe physics work differently in England.) Patrick Magee stars as Miles, a bizarre psychic who likes to interview tombstones and talk to his black cat. Enter photographer Mimsy Farmer and Scotland Yard detective David Warbeck who try to figure out who is behind the strange deaths in the village. The main suspect seems to be Miles’ black cat, who is at the scene of every crime and… well, just looks guilty. As the bodies pile up, Farmer and Warbeck both become involved in something too bizarre to understand, or be explained.

While ’The Black Cat’ doesn’t include Fulci’s signature teleporting zombies, the black cat makes a capable stand-in, as he apparently has the power to be everywhere at once. Despite the fact that the movie isn’t as gory as say, ’City of the Living Dead’, it does feature some grue, most of which is caused by the cat. (But, there is one particularly nasty death.) The film is supposedly suggested by the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, but I could only spot slight traces of Poe’s influence. ’The Black Cat’ actually manages to evoke some suspense and I found it to be ultimately quite watchable.

’The Black Cat’ slinks onto DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment, as part of their Lucio Fulci Collection. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. The first thing that will strike you about this transfer is just how clear, clean, and colorful it is. But, it’s not without its flaws. A black scratch runs down the right side of the frame for the majority of the film, and a small blue scratch joins it for the last reel. Other than that, this transfer is beautiful, showing once again the devotion that Anchor Bay puts into their work.

The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono, but I found it to be surprisingly robust, with the constant meowing sounding very true to life. The DVD offers the theatrical trailer for ’The Black Cat’ and it has been letterboxed at 2.35:1, and looks almost as good as the main feature. The only other extra is a detailed biography of the late Fulci.