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“They come here, they have a pretty nurse, then they can do a little something, bing-bang, then they study the liquid and tell you if you have a hereditary disease or if your gun’s jammed.” Doesn’t he mean “bada-bing, bada-boom?” Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, and Jeff Mohr – as they experience The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), a Giallo thriller from Dario Argento, starring Karl Malden and James Franciscus.
Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 149 – The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)
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A newspaper reporter and a retired, blind journalist try to solve a series of killings connected to a pharmaceutical company’s top-secret experimental research projects; in doing so they become targets of the killer.– IMDb
- Director: Dario Argento
- Writers: Dario Argento, Bryan Edgar Wallace (uncredited); (based on a story by) Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi (as Luigi Collo), Dardano Sacchetti
- Selected Cast:
- James Franciscus as Carlo Giordani
- Karl Malden as Franco “Cookie” Arnò
- Catherine Spaak as Anna Terzi
- Pier Paolo Capponi as Police Supt. Spimi
- Horst Frank as Dr. Braun
- Rada Rassimov as Bianca Merusi
- Tino Carraro as Professor Fulvio Terzi
- Cinzia De Carolis as Lori
- Aldo Regianni as Dr. Casoni
- Carlo Alighiero as Dr. Calabresi
- Vittorio Congia as Righetto
- Ugo Fangareggi as Gigi the Loser
- Tom Felleghy as Dr. Esson
- Emilio Marchisini as Dr. Mombelli
- Werner Pochath as Manuel
- Fulvio Mingozzi as Spimi’s man
- Corrado Olmi as Morsella
- Pino Patti as Barber
The Cat o’ Nine Tails is pure Giallo, according to Bill, but still pretty subdued for an Argento film. As a reasonably straightforward detective story, it held his interest and Karl Malden is terrific. Not being a big Giallo fan, Chad enjoyed The Cat o’ Nine Tails more than he thought he would, specifically pointing to a couple of cool murder scenes and Malden’s fantastic performance. Jeff agrees that The Cat o’ Nine Tails is more mystery than horror and, as such, is true to original Giallo themes. He adds his love for Malden’s performance to the chorus and enjoys seeing Argento’s progression from The Bird with the Crystal Plummage (1970) to this film to Deep Red (1975) to Suspiria (1977). The Cat o’ Nine Tails has Doc’s attention with the idea of the two different types of journalists getting together, a couple of fascinating kills, keeping track of the red herrings, and putting a child in harm’s way. And then there’s the strange love scene between Catherine Spaak and James Franciscus. Hmm.
Giallo and Argento fans will want to see this film! As of this writing, The Cat o’ Nine Tails is available to stream from Shudder and The Criterion Channel and on physical media as a brand new 4K restoration on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1970s is part of the Decades of Horror two-week rotation with The Classic Era and the 1980s. In two weeks, the next episode in their very flexible schedule, episode 150, will be George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), chosen by a listener poll! Be there!
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