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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Demonic Possession > Thriller > Italy > The Black Cat (1981/Fulci/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)

The Black Cat (1981/Fulci/Arrow Blu-ray)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B+ Film: B

Lucio Fulci's 1981 film, The Black Cat, also known in Italian as 'Gatto Nero', gets the Arrow treatment with an amazing 2K restoration from the original 2-perf Techniscope camera negative that looks exceptional on Blu-ray disc. In addition, the disc is packed full of extras that make this a must for Fulci fans! Visually spectacular, this Italian horror flick features a killer Black Cat that strikes terror into its victims! The film stars Patrick Magee, to whom you will most likely recognize from his extraordinary role in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece A Clockwork Orange (1971, reviewed elsewhere on this site). The film also stars David Warbeck and Mimsy Farmer.

Another highlight is the fantastic score by Pino Donaggio (best known for his work with Brian De Palma), which I definitely need to get my hands on, that mimics Hermann's score for Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) in many instances. Regarded by many as one of Fulci's overlooked achievements, this Arrow release was the first time I had seen this film and I really enjoyed it.

Lucio Fulci was not only the godfather of Italian Horror Cinema but was known for such classics as Zombi (an unofficial sequel to Romero's Dawn of the Dead), The Beyond (my personal favorite), The New York Ripper, City of the Living Dead, and many more. For those unfamiliar, his style is rich with brutal violence (most of which looks pretty fake to today's standards) which at the times shocked audiences. His films are very visual and all very well shot as he was the master at using silhouettes and close up shots as well as quick editing to make his films scary.

Perhaps loosely inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat centers around a Scotland Yard detective and a nosy American photographer who are both investigating a series of bizarre deaths in a small English village. Soon, these murders are connected to a local literacy professor (Magee) to whom has the psychic ability to talk to dead spirits and somehow uses his gift to direct the entities to his pet black cat who becomes his instrument for revenge on those who oppose him.

Granted, some parts of the film involving the cat killing make it pretty obvious that the lot of this film is dependent on B-Roll cutaways of the black cat hissing or simply looking into the camera, running/pouncing out of frame, and squinting. But it is Fulci's masterful style and the help of the soundtrack that help add tension and make it seem as if this tiny creature is a murderer.

Arrow delivers high quality transfers and digital audio and this release is no exception. Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and shot in the small Techniscope 35mm format (usually, such films were released in 3-strip, 35mm Technicolor prints, but such prints were not made by this time, so you'd get a regular color print. The format with non-Technicolor print releasing was once also known a Chromoscope.) along with the English and original Italian soundtracks in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Mono 1.0 track presentations. The film looks and sounds better on this release than I've ever seen it before.

As mentioned, this is the 2K remastered version from the original film negative. A few instances have some noticeable film noise and grain as you would expect from the smaller frames, but all in all, the film looks flawless on disc. There are also optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack.

The extras are bountiful and they include

- Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker and Fangoria editor Chris Alexander

- From Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness with film historian Stephen Thrower on Fulci's Poe-tinged classic

- In the Paw-Prints of The Black Cat takes a look at the original Black Cat locations

- Frightened Dagmar is a brand new career-spanning interview with actress Dagmar Lassander

- At Home with David Warbeck is an archival interview with the Black Cat star

- Original Theatrical Trailer

- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

Not to be confused with the Bela Lugosi/Boris Karloff film of the same name, The Black Cat is full of tension and thrills. If you're a fan of Italian horror cinema, specifically Fulci, then you won't want to miss this release from Arrow. The film is a fun watch and being able to see two different versions of the film in this release is an added treat. You won't look at cats the same way after this!

- James Lockhart



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