AKA-SETTE SCIALLI DI SETA GIALLA
REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-SERGIO PASTORE CAST-ANTHONY STEFFEN (ANTONIO DE TEFFE), SYLVA KOSCINA, SHIRLEY CORRIGAN, UMBERTO RAHO, GIOVANNA LENZI, RENATO DE CARMINE and GIACOMO ROSSI-STUART. SOURCE-DAGORED FILMS DVD NTSC REGION 1
Peter who is a blind music composer over hears a conversation and the plotting of a murder while waiting for Paola a model who he had been dating. Soon after hearing of the death of Paola, Peter actively investigates who might have killed her. Together with his servant Bruno and Paolaís friend Margot, they unravel a series of blackmailing and deaths. Aiding the police into finding who might be the killer, Peter shares his ability to sense things that only those who are blind can do. Heightened hearing, super sensitive smell and good old sleuthing. Relentless in his efforts, they draw him into the killers path.
At first, one would not only see the heavy influences that Hitchcock had on this film, but Mario Bava as well. Though I would not go as far as to pigeon hole this as a direct clone to that of Bavaís BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, there are several similarities. As for the Hitchcock presence, well the pinnacle of the filmís several brutal killings would be that of the strangle familiar shower scene. Decked out in the nude, this scene inherits almost the same aspects that made Janet Leigh a household name, though the same canít be said for Shirley Corrigan. Still, even after all the heavily borrowed aspects CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT is indeed one of the best examples of the Italian giallo to come out of the early 70's. Strong enough plot, tons of red herrings that work quite well even up until the end. Some pretty good acting, atmospheric score and some very stylish killings as well. All trademarks of a good giallo, of course one could not forget to mention the usual the involvement of the black gloves as well.
Well, to begin with one canít help by pointing out or simply noticing the several areas of CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT that both borrow and are heavily influenced by the likes of Hitchcock, Bava and even Argento. Both for the most part, even though there are a few killings in this film, one stands out the most. The brutal slaying of Margot in the shower, mush like that of Janet Leigh in Hitchcockís PSYCHO. This scene is absolutely brutal in every way, bloody to the bone and savage for a thriller of the early 70's. Shirley Corrigan is simply butchered while taking a shower, white tiles that become stained red. Several slices from a stiletto that leave Margot literally and figuratively in pieces layed out for the blind composer to stumble upon in horror. Though this scene is quite heavy and will stressful for the weak in the stomach, it is done with complete style as in many cases for a giallo of this stature. Another borrowed influence is that of Mario Bavaís classic BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, where BLACK imitates the fashion world that Bava used a decade before. A bloody black gloved murderer slaying fashion models. Of course this could be said of a few more examples, but none that are as close as these two. One could also draw comparisons to Dario Argentoís CAT OíNINE TAIL and the fact that the main character of Franco played by Karl Malden was also blind and would get in the way of the polizia with his own snooping around.
Sergio Pastoreís direction is quite strong and is reflected in CRIMES OF THE BLACK CATíS plot and acting especially. Sure one could copy any plot onto film, but itís also another for those to do it right. Pastoreís style oozes all over this film, in itís overall feel, his direction of the actors even though one would say how could one tell when the film is in a different language. Easy enough one you get a performance such as Anthony Steffenís. An actor who pour his full acting abilities into a role that forces him into a world of complete darkness, where your only help is that of the feeling or extension of a cane. The scene where he is brought to the factory and has to make his own way through the many obstacles laid out by the then though to be killer Victor. Steffen is complete convincing as he stumbles to his almost death. This in itself is enough to pass both Steffen and Pastoreís abilities.
The incorporation of all the essential elements that are common in most gialli, black gloves, the killing styles, the red herrings and not to forget the right atmosphere and set up. All of these are present and quite effective in CRIMES, though one would think they could figure out who the killer is, will later be quite surprised. Still, even if you do figure it out, you are still left with a very entertaining giallo. As it is quite interesting to see how Pastore uses the trials and tribulations of someone who is hampered with blindness triumph to the occasion. His ability to work out all the details of each murders, pulling piece by piece completing the overall puzzle. Damn those guys over at CSI should employ the likes of Peter.
This has been one of my favorite gialli films for quite sometime now. Ever since first witnessing it on a shoty transfers from years ago, itís always reflected the many reasons why I adore this great genre. So naturally when it was first announced that it was finally making itís way to the shiny format of DVD, it was certain joy. Of course that was pretty much shattered after finally viewing the Dagored Films release of this. Sure there was nice packaging, especially the original Italian locandina as the insert. Still this is not the reflection of the print one witnesses on the disc. Donít get me wrong, it was nice to finally see this film upgraded, but only at a teases worth. Both the picture and the audio are poorly digitized giving me the impression that this was the work of a glorified bootlegger. The discís presentation picture wise is a windowboxed wide screen that is not clear at all, pretty much taken from a VHS source and slapped onto DVD. Audio does fare much better, with itís digital mono presented in itís original Italian language with English subtitles. The discís features are bare bones as well with only providing poorly slapped together trailers for other Dagored releases including one for CRIMES. Sad day for a great little film.
STORY/FILM-3 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-2 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-2 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-1.5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-2 BITCH SLAPS
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