The Black Cat (1981)

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The name Lucio Fulci looms large over the world of horror cinema. Images of incredibly gory deaths, fog, great music, and lots of make up effects jump to my mind when I hear the name. Director of horror classics like Zombie, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, not mention his forays into every other popular genre from sex comedy to western to crime to giallo and more. He’s a director that is loved my many, and honestly loathed by many. But those folks aren’t any fun so they don’t count. The Black Cat is a film that was made during his classic era of horror cinema, but one that for some reason I don’t believe I had ever seen. Thanks to Arrow, and this fantastic Blu set, I finally had a chance.

The Black Cat is a well known Poe story that has had numerous screen adaptations. In this version we meed an old curmudgeon who claims to have super natural powers and generally creeps everyone out. A black cat decides to take residence in his home, but this cat is like no other. It’s a killer evil cat with mysterious intelligence that it uses to trick folks into dying in terrible ways. These people are people that have mocked our curmudgeon and so of course he’s suspect #1 but he claims it’s the cat, not him. The trouble is the cat is no longer taking orders from him and is now an evil cat with no master. Trouble ensues.

The Black Cat has many of those Fulci hallmarks that we all hope for. It’s got fog. It’s got a good soundtrack. It’s got David Warbeck. It’s got some gore. It’s got atmosphere. It doesn’t have enough of any of them though for me. It’s still a good ride but a lesser film from the maestro for me. It’s never dull and features some great cinematography and framing but it doesn’t have the life and vibe of his more well known films. The movie feels like he did it for a paycheck and not because he was passionate about it like he clearly was about The Beyond or House by the Cemetery. Maybe he was burnt, he had made 3 films the previous year and in ’81 made three more. This feels like the one that got what was left of his time while making 6 films in two years. But that isn’t to say it’s a stinker. It isn’t. There’s a great performance from the always reliable Patrick Magee, playing the curmudgeon of course. There’s some decent gore on display and it all feels very Fulci. I just wouldn’t say that this would be a good staring off point with his filmography. This one is for Fulci fans who have seen a good chunk of his work. It’s good, not great.

The presentation is fantastic though and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Arrow. It looks truly beautiful as Fulci’s films were meant to look. The disc features a commentary by Chris Alexander (Fangoria), an interview with horror encyclopedia Stephen Thrower, an interview with Dagmar Lassander, an old interview with David Warbeck and a then and now look at the locations.

Check back here later for my review of Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, also included in this set by Arrow.