Black Cat (1981)


Director : Lucio Fulci
Starring: Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver. Italy.1h 32m

A giallo tribute to the brilliance of Edgar Allen Poe, but as Fulci was the king of gore it pulls away from the gothic nature of the original stories and lathers it in slasherific fun.  

In a small English village there is something macabre going on, a man notices a cat on the backseat of his car that appears to  hypnotise him which results in him crashing his car and his death, the car cheerfully scampers off home to the cottage is shares with Robert Miles (Patrick Magee), a retired; hateful professor who doubles up a psychic or medium and spends most of his time recording in at the tombs or graves of the recently deceased.  Meanwhile an American tourist Jill Travers (Mimsy Farmer) wanders into a tomb to take photos and finds a microphone, she’s eventually warned off b a local bobby Sergeant Wilson (Al Cliver). A young couple sneak into an airtight room in a boat house to make out, when a black cat appears suddenly the key goes missing and the two are seen dying from an unfortunate lack of oxygen.

The local police can’t keep up with the recent troubles and asks for help from Scotland Yard, they get Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck) who instantly gets a speeding ticket from Wilson, but is soon on the case of the missing couple and random deaths, but they continue, a man leaving a pub one night is stalked by the cat and terrified into a unusual position in a barn and killed in a horrific way.

Eventually Miles is asked to help find the couple using his mediumship and and his connection with the cat start to unravel along with his sanity.

Obviously being a creation from Fulci this has some brilliant gorey murders that have great set ups,murders don’t simply happen in Fulci land, the victims have to be in the right place and the wrong time and under suitable levels of destress. Sometimes things become a little predictable but on the whole it’s always fun to watch the macabre playing out. It’s not like any of his classics, a little less sophisticated but maybe this is just what the film needed? A touch of gothic follows through the ideas originally penned down by Poe, and then twisted into a naughty tale.

While the film draws from Poe’s malovenant black cat, the magic is really driven from Magee’s character, a deranged and pissed off psychic who spends his time recording the voices of the dead and channeling evil into his cat, only a genius would come up with this eccentric kinda fellow. Quintessentially English and a common face in British horror, it adds to the drama seeing him set against an international cast.

There’s a lashing of nudity and the horror is served up the only way that Fulci knows how and with a cast who have been through it all before, it is strange seeing them in a small English village setting rather than somewhere more exotic and without zombies. It’s not Fulci’s best work by far, it feels tired and at times it lumbers along, but it’s interesting to see small details leak through from poe in such a mixed up way.

Cat’s have always had a bit of a mysterious history, and Edgar did really enforce even more on the black cat in particular, not that they had a lot of luck associated with them, much like The Uncanny (1977) this cat is a total bastard but the reasons behind it make it much more interesting, but it’s not really until the final blows of the movie, that the kitteh takes on its prescribed role and suddenly the film starts feeling familiar.

Generally slated as being one of Fulci’s bottom of the barrel pieces, I personally see it as being different, and I couldn’t fault a director for being experimental, and it seems he has invented Gothic Giallo.. Now can we make this a proper genre now.


Rating 6/10

R –The Uncanny (1977) , Cat’s Eye (1985) , the Raven (2012)
L – Edgar Allen Poe Inspired Films, Kitteh Horrors,

2 thoughts on “Black Cat (1981)”

    1. It’s unusual when it happens, but it’s a testament to his ability as a director that even on his off day’s he can still make a decent film 😀

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