Monday, March 14, 2011

The Black Cat

We expect Lucio Fulci to give us films like THE BEYOND or CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD or ZOMBIE. He's most famous for these and rightfully so. They're gory, frightening, visceral film experiences that have given us death by seeing eye dog and a zombie vs. shark throwdown. He's earned his right as a master of horror in pretty much every gorehound's mind. But I'm not that much of a gorehound, although I do like a bit of splatter, and there's more to the man that the living dead and seven doors to Hell. Enter 1981's THE BLACK CAT, loosely based on the Poe story of the same name.

Now Argento gave us his version with TWO EVIL EYES and Corman did a hell of job with his retelling, but this ain't that. Rather, it's a stalwartly paced mystery about some village folk who come to inexplicably nasty ends, with suspicion falling on a local medium whose penchant is to record his conversations with the dead and has a sinister bond with a black feline companion. The tone and the mood are there and the film almost feels two decades removed from its early eighties date. There's plenty of foggy cemeteries, bat attacks, and investigation of dusty crypts, but that's sort of the fun.

But what was really, really fun for me was all the stuff that suspicious black cat is capable of. Allow me to recap for you.

1. The cat has the urge to kill. The old psychic is right to be scared of the bastard. He scratches and bites and yowls constantly. You should be wary of this cat, that is for sure. Even our Maine Coon, October, sat and watched this movie as that cat commands fucking attention when he's on screen.

2. He can appear and disappear at will. Not like he just turns a corner or something. It truly seems like he's teleporting.

3. He can multiply. In one particularly gruesome attack, he's about eight cats at once. You don't know which way to look, or where to hide. This cat will find your ass.

4. He can hypnotize. Say you're driving in your car and you notice there's a cat in the backseat. Suddenly, you just want to take your hands off the wheel, press the gas, and run headlong into the nearest parked van in broad daylight, throwing yourself through the windshield. Yeah, this cat can make that happen for you.

5. He can set fires. Not with laser beam eyes or anything. He's got the smarts to topple an oil lamp into a lit fireplace if he wants to set your ass on fire.

6. He can lock you in a shed, turn off the ac, and suffocate you to death while you try to tryst with your lover. That, and he can remove the key you had with you and deposit it outside the shed, baffling Scotland Yard.

7. He can open barred doors, then hypnotize your drunk ass into impalement.

8. He can channel spirits, natch. That's probably where that motherfucker gets all his powers.

9. He frames his human for kidnapping and maiming, looking innocent all the while.

10. Oh, and he can destroy wills. Obviously.

I know it might come as a shock to you that I love cats. This only solidified my love for the creatures even more. This cat is a badass. I didn't even mention he can come back from the dead after eating poisoned food, a hanging, and then a burial under six feet of earth! And although I do not like to watch violence against animals of any kind, especially to our furry feline friends, this didn't bother me, because I knew that asshole was going to come back and get his revenge. Go, cat, go!

Recommended for lovers of vengeful cats and Fulci completists.


  1. That is to say, a black cat can to whatever the hell pleases his fancy, and we humans live and serve at their pleasure. I haven’t seen this Fulci, but will soon.

    God, you mention City of the Living Dead. That first scene of the doomed priest walking through the cemetery is so beautiful. Now I am in the mood to watch it again. It was the first Fulci film I ever saw, so it’s my sentimental favorite of all his films.

  2. As a cat lover, you know all this stuff already, Mykal! I'm glad Bad Jerome is doing well and being a great fucking cat. I can say the same for my brood here :)

    I haven't seen CotLD in years, but I do have a DVD copy. I might have to watch that again soon.

  3. This killer cat sounds like my cat Leo (now deceased). Not content with simply hunting mice, he would hunt rats, rabbits and racehorse goannas! (f'reals). I wouldn't be surprised if he did all of the stuff that Fulci's did at night.
    And my other cat, seventeen years old and missing a front leg, hunted and killed a couple of snakes a few months ago!

    And there's another evil cat movie that I've heard of that had Peter Cushing in it called The Uncanny.

  4. Wow, Chris, you have some badass cats on your hands! My cats wouldn't know how to hunt their way out of a paper bag, let alone kill a snake or two! And they have all their legs! Very cool!

    I've heard of THE UNCANNY, but never seen it. I'll have to hunt it down.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. The Uncanny is a bit silly, but any film that has Donald Pleasance playing a character called Valentine De'ath is always worth a watch.
    My cats don't bring home dead mice, just the back legs and tails.

  6. I had a black cat once named Boris; he was a rescue that, despite having only one eye and no front claws, was hands down the most vicious hunter I have ever seen. Because he could enter and leave on his own through the crawlspace, I never knew when I was going to come home to various disemboweled rodents laid out for me in the living room. Also saw him twice catch a low flying bird out of the air by jumping off the front porch.

  7. @Cyclops. Sounds good. How exactly do you pronounce that moniker?

    @BL. Ah, Boris. What a wonderful name. I can't believe he wreaked that much havoc with no claws. Deniro hasn't any claws, but the most she'll do is paw you when she wants table scraps. We let her do it because it feels kinda good. No scratches. But she came that way - I would have never declawed her. I think it's mean! They need their little claws for scratching. It's natural.

  8. I agree about the claws. Boris came that way, but I guess he decided he wasn't going to let his "handicap" hold him back.

  9. Jenn: A couldn't agree more about declawing. Bad Jerome has razors which, gratefully, he uses with utmost control with only minimal interest in furniture. He gets such extreme pleasure out of laying into his scratching post(s). It's like watching a zen master going into the zone.

  10. Bleaux: No shame on Boris. You gotta take those rescue cats the way they come and good of you to do so. Bad Jerome was a stray and came with his switchblades, so I (and he) lucked out.

  11. kewl, gotta check it out. i've only seen the stuart gordon semi-adaptation of The Black Cat. thre's a nasty cat violence in it. although fulci always brought the gore best with his great italian make-up artists in hand.

  12. I've been trying to track this film down for a couple of weeks now. I must have seen it at some point but I don't have a copy in my collection. Another good one about a cat getting revenge is "The Shadow of the Cat". You'll never look at a fat mackerel tabby in the same way again.

  13. I'll track down SHADOW OF THE CAT. I like a good cat-venge tale =^..^=