The Cat O’ Nine Tails comes to 4K via Arrow. This was always one of those titles that I expected to stay with Blue Underground, but I’m just happy the film is getting the treatment it deserves. Although, I don’t remember it always looking this dark. That’s a mild issue that I’m sure we’re going to have 800 videophiles argue about. But, I’m always more concerned about the films.
For those that aren’t well versed in their Argento, The Cat O’ Nine Tails was an early work for the horror master. As much as it apes Hitchcock, it also shows how intertwined crime movies and horror can be. Although, I see using XYY Syndrome as a plot point from criminal behavior to be frowned upon in 2021, it still plays well. So, what makes this movie sing?
Dario Argento was still finding his footing as a director. Borrowing heavily upon American actors working in Italian films, he wanted to make a crime movie that satisfied his horror bend. I once heard a film scholar called The Cat O’ Nine Tails something along the lines of The Pink Panther with a body count. While that it holds true, Blake Edwards made movies that were a little more coherent. Sure, you have the base plot of the Medical Institute theft and who is hiding information. But, there’s also the nature of how an ace reporter is trying to solve a local crime.
The Cat O’ Nine Tails is a movie that falls apart when you think about it too hard. That’s not to say Fulci didn’t have movies like that either. The difference between the man is one was trying to make highbrow material, while Fulci wants to pop eyeballs. As the years go on, it’s stunning to see how the two styles split apart, but you can see how close they were in these original films.
Giallo is one of those film subgenres that never hits American audiences in the right way. Sure, Friday the 13th and the Golden Age of Slashers borrowed heavily from them, it never carried American moviegoers back to the source. After all, the Giallo movie was a response to many things created by the American entertainment system and then tweaked for Italian audiences. When it comes to translating sources of amusement, it always fascinates me to see at what point does the ride break for people.
Dario Argento wisely backed away from what didn’t work in The Cat O’ Nine Tails. While a lot of his future work dealt more with traditional horror and supernatural spookiness, he did return to this kind of crime tales. Tenebre and others dabbled in similar trappings, but found true horror instead of watching a reporter do his work. Film gains more and loses certain liberties than what’s on the printed page. Still worth checking out.
Arrow brings The Cat o’ Nine Tails to 4K with a bounty of special features. You get a commentary, plenty of interviews and featurettes. However, the Limited Edition of the 4K UHD set gets a poster and lobby card reproductions. The package is also a little different, but I can’t really tell the difference. That still won’t stop collectors from blowing up the costs on the secondary market.
That is one thing that bewilders me about these releases. I get that Arrow and others are smaller houses trying to make back their licensing costs. It’s just that if people want to see The Cat O’ Nine Tails, I feel they should have options. When people don’t have options, things get ignored. Then, it’s also horror retreads all Halloween season long.