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John’s Horror Corner: The Black Cat (1981; Gatto nero), Lucio Fulci’s reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story.

January 20, 2021

MY CALL: A retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s story in a very wacky “Fulcian” manner. Entertaining for fans of 80s Italian horror—but it doesn’t even make it into my “Top 2” Black Cat movie adaptations. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Black Cat: Fans of Fulcian gore may continue with City of the Living Dead (1980; aka Paura nella città dei morti viventi, The Gates of Hell), The Beyond (1981) and The House by the Cemetery (1981), which form Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy; and then Zombie (1979) and Demonia (1990). For more movies of The Black Cat, go for The Black Cat (1989; Il gatto nero), Two Evil Eyes (1990) and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990).

We open with an introduction to a cat, a lot of cat POV shots, and a curious car accident death scene. But this Italian classic reaches far beyond mere superstition. This cat very quickly feels a lot like Michael Myers stalking twentysomethings and interrupting their sex scene by cutting the electricity.

A creepy professor (Patrick Magee; Tales from the Crypt, Asylum) skulks about the cemetery and speaks to the dead, summarily creeping out the locals. The professor and his murderous black cat have a dark dependency on one another—and a psychic connection. He claims the cat will one day kill him, and he seems strangely at peace with this notion.

The over-the-top Italian-ness is prevalent. People foam at the mouth for no other reason than to inform us they’re dying, a man sprints from his food truck around a lake to murder a total stranger (no clue why!!!), and bodies are discovered bloated and half-eaten by rats. When the town drunk turns up dead in a freak accident, the remaining cat claw marks on his hand identify the true cause of his death.

The strange deaths continue and the professor knows… it was the cat! And soon a local photographer (Mimsy Farmer; Autopsy, Body Count) becomes a firm believer in the evil of the cat. But no one wants to entertain theories about murders committed by cats.

There is a satisfying twist to the story, but the finale’s surrounding execution just wasn’t there. Teleporting cats and needlessly long attacks by bats-on-strings just don’t cut it for me anymore. But despite the “meh” ending, this was alright; certainly entertaining even if not something I’d recommend. Two Evil Eyes (1990) did a more satisfying job of it, whereas Tales from the Darkside: The Movie’s (1990) take on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat is untouchable in its greatness. So Fulci doesn’t even earn a spot in my “Top 2” Black Cat movie adaptations.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2021 9:56 am

    Good review and I agree this is not one of the better adaptions. Thanks for the reminder about the one from TFDS, that was a good one and I’ll have to revisit it soon.

  2. January 21, 2021 7:16 pm

    I saw this film back in the late 80s and didn’t like it much. Over the years, I revisited a few times, and now I love it. Just one of those things.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      January 22, 2021 8:55 am

      Just curious, what did you think of the other Italian-made The Black Cat from 1989?

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