Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fulci Gets Catty

The Black Cat 1981
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci and Biogio Proietti
Starring Patrick MacGee, David Warbeck, Mimsy Farmer, Al Cliver, Dagmar Lassander and Daniela Dora

Poe has always been a inspiration to many Horror filmmakers over the years. From the classic Corman/Price collaborations to Stuart Gordon's The Pit and The Pendulum. It is a mine that is well mined and has made some excellent films. The Black Cat by Lucio Fulci is the latest one I have sen and it is a good one. It has the usual flourishes a Fulci film has, with some spectacularly grisly deaths and as always a nice musical score. The film takes it's inspiration from Poe's The Black Cat but forges it's own story from that seed and makes that kernel its own. It has a solid cast with some regulars of Fulci and a great maniacal performance by Patrick Macgee. The most memorable scene in the film has to be the torching of the grieving mother, that one is expertly done a very melodramatic and I loved it. This is one of Fulci's lesser classics, not quite as good as House by the Cemetery but much better than some of his later work like Demonia.
The plot basics are this, Robert Miles (MacGee) is a psychic who has a rapport with cats and seems to be able to control them and have them do his bidding. He uses his cat to take vengeance upon the people he believe has slighted them. People start ending up dead and a visiting Scotland Yard investigator (Warbeck) and a photographer (Farmer) starts to investigate and the photographer begins to see that all the victims have cat scratches on them and slowly she begins to piece the puzzle together and she finally confronts Phillips, but he overpowers her and entombs her in a wall and it looks as if he will get away with his crimes but will he succeed?
This is a great film. Fulci's direction is very atmospheric and all the scenes with the cat on the prowl is very eerie and creepy. He sets up the tension that permeates all throughout the scenes before the cat attacks and you are dreading and anticipation it at the same time. The script is good, the character of Phillips is a hoot to watch, you can tell he is a madman but you cannot turn your eyes away from what atrocity he will perform next. The cast is great, and the finest example of that is MacGee, he relishes this role of menace that he permeates the screen with every scene he is in. He is supported by great work by Cliver and Warbeck as well. They always are a great to watch in any Fulci film they are in and this one is no exception. The SFX is very good, especially the deaths in the boathouse and the arson fire that the cat causes, I delight in re watching that scene again and again. The final piece of the puzzle for this film is the music by Pino Donaggio, it is haunting and at some times almost whimsical, which fits the film very well. This is a definite must see for both Fulci and Poe fans.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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