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THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1971) – Episode 149 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“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

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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Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.