The Black Cat (1989)

JUNE 1, 2011


One of the weirder things about Netflix Instant is how many movies they have available that aren’t even on DVD (in R1 anyway), let alone carried by them. I mean, being that they are ostensibly a DVD rental service, you’d think that movies like The Black Cat (aka so many other titles I’m going to dedicate an entire paragraph to it in a bit) would also be available to you on disc, but that is not the case. From what I understand, it’s never been released in the States; hell, the Wiki page makes it sound like it’s never been released PERIOD. Guess it’s just a pretty good sign of what they are focusing on these days; the other day I tried queuing up some new releases I read about in Fangoria and discovered that they haven’t bothered to stock them, but this goddamn thing is there.

Anyway, it’s a pretty lousy movie. Sometimes it’s fun to imagine that these sort of lost/forgotten flicks are rare gems that deserve to be discovered, but other than on principle, this thing should stay “buried”. It starts off OK enough, with a movie-in-a-movie sequence and a surprising meta-reference to Suspiria and Inferno, as our lead characters are planning to make a movie about the Third Mother, which would serve as the unofficial “end” of the trilogy that, in 1989 when this movie was produced, had seemingly been abandoned by Dario Argento. But as the movie went on and on, I began to appreciate the uneven Mother of Tears even more; it may not have been perfect but it’s a masterpiece compared to this bore.

The problem is, it’s just as incoherent as Inferno (Suspiria more or less makes sense, at least in the relative terms of Italian horror), but nowhere near as stylish or visually interesting. There aren’t a lot of kills, and most of the time the movie is just talk, talk, talk, as our heroine seeks to discover why she is seeing things and who is possibly after her (in one of the few good sequences, she is rattled by who she thinks is her friend’s nephew, and then a serviceman – neither of whom are actually there). Worse, most of the gore/makeup effects (and there aren’t too many) are pretty cheap looking, plus seem out of place in what’s allegedly a loose sequel to those films.

In fact, the movie is also known as Demons 6 in some territories, and while it has even less to do with the Demons movies than the Argento flicks, the makeup would at least SORT OF fit in those movies, especially when one monster/demon/whatever begins puking green shit all over the heroine’s face. The soundtrack is also inspired by those films, with a lot of rock songs by the likes of White Lion, though they toss in a few of Goblin’s Suspiria cues every now and then for good measure. The Black Cat title is also “fake”, created by the American distributors in an attempt to fool people into thinking it was based on the Poe story (they even slap his name above the title!). It was actually filmed under De Profundis (“From The Deep”), which I guess would fit in a vague sort of way. Hilariously, yet ANOTHER title for it is Demons 6: Armageddon, and if you’re thinking that is the least appropriate one yet, you’d be wrong.

Why? Because the movie inexplicably has a bunch of shots of planets and the sun tossed in from time to time (no asteroids though), and your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell they are doing here. Perhaps director Luigi Cozzi is trying to suggest that the three mothers are celestial beings of some sort? But having just seen Tree Of Life, I think I’ve had my fill of random shots that resemble screensavers in the middle of a movie (Cozzi even tosses in some shots of flowers, come to think of it - I put a clip of this nonsense below, since I couldn't find the trailer anyway).

Hell it barely even resembles a horror movie after a while. Instead of a finale with demons or supernatural goings on (the movie they are making also disappears from the plot after 40 minutes or so), we get a “battle” that looks like a remake of Manitou’s climax, with two people just standing there and a bunch of green lasers flying around. Our heroine suddenly gains the power to rewind time as well, so there’s some of that for good (bad) measure. It’s like Cozzi and crew were just copying every goddamn movie they could think of; with every new shot I was reminded of a different, better movie.

Honestly, the best part of the movie came early on, when Anne opens the fridge and her food begins sparking and exploding. Not only is it a wonderfully silly visual (fiery celery!), but the husband comes over and makes it divine by calmly saying “must be the wiring” and then grabbing himself a beer, which thankfully did not explode. It’s the sort of “WHAT?” moment that you expect from Italian horror films, but sadly the movie trades that sort of irrational nonsense for a largely bland and just plain confusing storyline. Exploding food makes no sense, sure, but it’s not pertinent to the plot either, and up until that point and a bit beyond, the movie made sense; if you don’t know what’s going on AT ALL it’s not funny, it’s just annoying.

Even though I disliked the film, one thing made me curious enough to warrant giving it another look in its native language. When the monster talks, it sounds insanely cheesy, and I am wondering if the Italian counterpart ALSO sounded cheesy, or if it’s just the fault of the dubber. I mean, I expect/don’t mind a bit of mismatched voice acting from the regular characters, but when it comes to a monster, it can actually change how the scene is being perceived. However, if the movie isn’t available in the States, I’d have to import a disc to find out, and I sure as hell won’t be putting that much effort into it. But if you’re from one of the other disc Regions, let me know! And also let me know what your copy is called!

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure it's been released, I got it in a horror 3-pack once.


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