Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat (Blu-ray / Movie Review)
Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat is featured in Arrow’s phenomenal Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats Limited Edition, which also features the fantastically named Sergio Martino film Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (the review can be read here). The Arrow Box set is limited to 3000 copies and comes with an impressive limited edition 80-page booklet containing new articles on the films, Lucio Fulci’s last ever interview and a reprint of Poe’s original story. The box set contains the two films in a nice hard cardboard case and each film also has reversible sleeves showcasing the original and newly commissioned artwork. It’s a stellar package and worth the price. Now, with that said, let’s get on with the review of Fulci’s The Black Cat, which is a very loose adaptation of Poe’s Black Cat short story.
SUBTITLES: English/English SDH REGION: A/B RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1981 RELEASE DATE: Oct 27, 2015
In The Black Cat, from that “other” Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci (Zombie), Scotland Yard Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck, The Beyond) find himself summoned to a sleepy English village to investigate the recent murder of a young couple. With no obvious signs of entry at the murder scene, Gorley is forced to start considering the possibility that his suspect may not be human…
If there is one thing you are guaranteed when you watch a Fulci movie, it’s a flick that is damn hard to follow. The Black Cat starts off with so many random scenes, I had no idea where this film was headed. We’ve got a killer cat, a couple making out in a locked room (yay, boobies!), a man listening to screaming, and a cat attacking him; the same man recording dead people at a cemetery, whilst an unknown man listens on in the background; and finally a woman taking photos and finding a tomb full of skeletons. What in the hell is happening?!? Thankfully, things start to level out once David Warbeck’s Detective character comes in and we get to the actual story. Unfortunately, The Black Cat still has scenes that lead absolutely nowhere. I’m not entirely sure why Fulci decided to include these useless scenes in the movie, as they add nothing of value, but here they are. Even if you ignore all the random talking to dead / hidden tombs subplots, you still get a movie that is all over the place.
The Black Cat borrows its ideas from a lot of different Poe tales, not just the story it’s titled after. Film historian Stephen Thrower in the special features does a great job at breaking down different areas that Fulci and writer Biagio Proietti borrowed from. You have bits and pieces of other Poe stories mixed in with some ideas from The Black Cat story. It’s a smorgasbord of Poe fic to keep you interested, even if it’s all nonsense when you come to the end.
Fulci fans might end up being slightly turned off by the lack of gore. Fulci is known for the gore, but The Black Cat is super light on the red and gooey. It’s got a few kills and one hilarious scene involving a flailing prop that is supposed to be a woman. Because the film lacks the messy stuff, fans are going to pass on it, but I think that would be the wrong thing to do as the film is still very much a Fulci flick. The cinematography by Sergio Salvati is fantastic and beautiful and the music by Pino Donaggio is a delight, especially the main title. You most certainly will end up being confused come the end credits, but it wouldn’t be a Fulci flick without a little head scratching going on.
As I’ve already mentioned, The Black Cat is included in Arrow’s box set, which is crammed full of value. Besides a few scratches and some random film degradation, The Black Cat is looking wonderful. The audio, which is Uncompressed PCM Mono, is also well done, with no obvious issues. The features are very much welcome, with the 25 minute sit down with film historian Stephen Thrower being my fav of all included, as it goes in-depth into the movie, whereas the other features are wider and non-specific. You also have a visit to the filming locations, a career-spanning interview with actress Dagmar Lassander and the biggest the feature on the disc, an hour long interview with actor David Warbeck, who reminisces about Fulci, as he smokes his life away. Rounding all that out is a commentary with filmmaker and Fangoria editor Chris Alexander and a trailer.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat Features:
Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker and Fangoria editor Chris Alexander
Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness – film historian Stephen Thrower on Fulci’s Poe-tinged classic
In the Paw-Prints of the Black Cat – a look at the original Black Cat locations
Frightened Dagmar – a brand new career interview with actress Dagmar Lassander
At Home with David Warbeck – an archive interview with The Black Cat star
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
Limited Edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and The Black Cat
Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
Limited Edition 80-page booklet containing new articles on the films, Lucio Fulci’s last ever interview and a reprint of Poe’s original story
The Black Cat is a confusing flick, but one that is still beautiful to watch. It may not be Fulci at his best, but fans should still check it out, especially if you have a hankering for Poe tales. The Arrow Blu-ray is just one-half of the awesome Black Cats box set and there is nothing wrong with the disc in my opinion. This flick and Blu comes highly recommended.