The Cat O' Nine Tails

The Cat O' Nine Tails

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: David Graham

Read David Graham's film review of The Cat O' Nine Tails

Arrow's physical presentation of this once-lost 40-year-old fave is as flawless as usual, with the obligatory 4-panel reversible sleeve showcasing some typically outlandish Seventies design, while the informative booklet and double-sided poster (for which they've chosen my favourite old-school artwork) will go down a storm with the label's fans. The Blu-Ray offers a rich transfer of a good-looking film that probably will never get better treatment than this; the director's sense of style and colour composition are done justice, although some pixelation and grain does occur, especially during scenes of rapid movement (something Argento excels in). The sound is somewhat disappointing - a constant popping in the background proves distracting, even during the many Morricone-enriched moments, but having the option to choose between the English and Italian dubs is a definite bonus, although both are perfectly satisfactory.

A trio of featurettes focus on Italian directors, reminiscing about the film and its Giallo relatives. As ever, Argento is a no-nonsense interviewee, admitting he took inspiration from America for his Animal Trilogy, with Cat his least favourite because of how much this shows in the final cut. His oft-cited disregard for actors is contradicted by his genuine admiration for Actor's Studio alumnus Karl Malden, while his working relationship with Ennio Morricone is interestingly linked with the idea of children being the 'conscience' in his films.

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Elsewhere, longtime Argento associate and cult director Luigi Cozzi gives some nice inside info on the film's pre- and post-production, including an example of Argento taking his advice on axing an ambiguous ending. He also covers the origins of those ridiculous titles, which would often be established before the story, informing its direction. Sergio Martino - another Giallo champion - pops up for, bizarrely, the longest interview, in which he assesses the art-form 'mathematically', in terms of how it relates to reality and also how it affects the audience. His discussion will give viewers a handy list of further films in a similar vein to track down; just be warned that it's recklessly spoilerific!

And that's about it - a few minutes of measured albeit engaging reflection that will please fans but probably leave them wanting more, not unlike the feature itself. Arrow deserve praise for their stylish animated presentation during these extras, and of course the care they've taken in giving us the chance to fill a crucial gap in the Argento canon, but a commentary - even by the distributor's resident critic Calum Waddell - wouldn't have gone amiss.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2012
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The Cat O' Nine Tails packshot
A newspaper reporter and a blind puzzle expert team up to try and solve a string of murders.
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Product Code: B003NEQ74I

Region: 2

Ratio: PAL, Widescreen

Extras: Interviews, info booklet, poster

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