Saturday, 20 June 2015

Seven Death's In the Cats Eye (1973)

Set in 1920's Scotland, a young and innocent convent girl moves back to her ancestral castle home and uncovers a trail of dead bodies, money, and vampires.

Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye is a Gothic horror (the castle, crypt, fog, secret passages, candles), heavily influenced by the Hammer films of the period and whilst not a pure gialli it does contain various superficial motifs including black gloves, bizarre dreams, sex and a straight razor. As well as Hammer there are touches of Edgar Allan Poe, with the, admittedly terrible, ape being a nod towards his Murders in the Rue Morgue short story, considered the be the worlds first modern whodunnit, and also the inclusion of the cat as a constant witness (The Black Cat). There are some nice touches of humour; one that jumped out at me, whether intentional or not, was when James mentions that the blood on his palette knife is actually red paint - and we all know that Italian movie blood looks just like bright red paint!

The cast are all pretty good with Jane Birkin standing out as a wholesome young naïf. The photography and lighting is above standard and sometimes rises to the great; the zoomed freeze-frame on James and Corrinda stands out (used to great effect in Tobe Hooper's Salem's Lot), as did the lighting in the dark castle passageways and the crypt. The soundtrack is suitably overblown and melodramatic with kettle drums, quivering violins and crescendoing horns.

The Blue Underground transfer was good with only a slightly muddy soundtrack slightly marring what would otherwise be a great DVD. Although the dialogue is all in English there are three scenes in the original Italian which I'm guessing were cut from the international release.

Agatha Christie crossed with Poe and M.R. James with a dash of Nancy Drew.

If Hammer did giallo then it would look something like Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye.

Je t'aime!

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