THE BLACK CAT
(Il Gatto Nero)
What The Black Cat is based on or at least pays homage to is Dario Argentos Three Mothers trilogy which at the time only comprised Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). Argento took twemty-seven years to get around to completing the third chapter of the trilogy Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007) with many thinking that he never would. The Black Cat hoped to cash in by purporting to tell the story of Mater Lachrymarum (The Mother of Tears), the Third Mother. As such, The Black Cat falls along the lines of one of Argentos occult giallo films with various people being dispatched by a sinister supernatural force.
Alas, The Black Cat was directed by Luigi Cozzi. Cozzi is one of the hacks of the Italian fantasy industry. Cozzis work can sometimes be entertaining Starcrash (1978) but is usually terrible Alien Contamination (1980), Hercules (1983), The Adventures of Hercules (1985) and is always construed as ripoffs of other more popular English-language films. In the case of The Black Cat, it seems more a case of Cozzi not so much paying homage to Argento as acknowledging his betters. Argento is a master of style he creates set-pieces consisting of wildly artistic over-the-top novelty deaths. Cozzi is lacking in any such artistry and all that The Black Cat has is crude shock effect people coming up behind one another, hands bursting through a wall to grab someone and some very cheap optical effects with a hideous witch appearing in a mirror.
Conceptually, Cozzi is ambitious, conducting a challenging blurring between dream, reality and film. There is one good scene with the wife returning home, finding the repairman fixing the refrigerator then meeting the babysitters cousin, only for the babysitter to tell her that neither the cousin nor the repairman could come today. The film needed more scenes like that. With the right push The Black Cat could have been a sharp The Player (1992)-like deconstruction or even parody of the giallo film, blending what is happening on screen in with the film that we are seeing being filmed say akin to Wes Cravens New Nightmare (1994). Or even something like Lamberto Bavas Demons (1985) with its meta-fictional mirroring between cinema screen horror and a zombie attack in the theatre. Unfortunately, Luigi Cozzis ambitions of ideas exceeds his skill in delivering them and the results emerge more like a muddled A Nightmare on Elm Street copy. The ending is frankly bizarre with the film suddenly turning into an epic battle between two mentally super-powered humans a la The Power (1967), followed by several cuts away to intergalactic planetary scapes borrowed from Cozzis Hercules films that almost transforms The Black Cat into a science-fiction film.
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