28 October 2003 | Maciste_Brother
The only problem with this movie is that it's a Dario Argento film
When fans of Dario Argento watch his films, they expect to see certain things: violence, amazing camera-work, violence, crazy story-lines, violence towards women, etc. And that's the main problem with CAT O' NINE TAILS: it doesn't deliver those things fans of Argento expect to see. If you take Argento's name off of this film's credit, I'm sure a lot of people would consider it great but because it's sorta thrifty when it comes to the usual Argento ingredients, too many have dismissed it as being average. Most of the on-screen killings are strangulations. I'm sure many fans of Argento were disappointed with this. And most of the people killed are men, which probably also disappointed fateful Argento fans, accustomed to seeing the director murdering women in spectacular ways.
Compared to other non-Argento Gialli, CAT O' NINE TAILS is excellent. For example, it is much better than DELERIUM, SOLANGE, TORSO, THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS and slew of other average or mediocre gialli out there. It's a shame this movie is a Dario Argento film because it is completely overlooked as a great giallo.
With that said, the film still has some weaknesses. It's all over the place. One minute, it's a mystery. The next, it's a racing movie. Then it suddenly becomes a romance story, etc. The lack of focus in the direction and the script is evident throughout the movie. In comparison, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE was much more focused that this second movie in Dario's animal trilogy. The characters' motivations are also murky and muddled. The relationship between handsome Franciscus and not-so handsome Malden is fun if not really convincing. There's simply very little background information about those two characters, certainly James Franciscus' character, who is as one dimensional as humanly possible. But the acting is better than most Argento films and what's lacking in details in the characters is compensated by the excellent cast. The little girl was really good. The comedic bits, like the barber shop scene or when Franciscus decides to wear a raincoat after making love (?!?!) fell flat with a big thud. But the film's story-line IS interesting, if implausible. The feel and look of the film is dream-like and the music is excellent. Even if CAT O' NINE TAILS doesn't have as many signature Argento scenes as his other famous films, there are a couple of stand-out moments or shots peppered throughout which makes this worthwhile viewing. And there's actually an ending to this Dario Argento film.
All in all, I think CAT O' NINE TAILS is totally memorable. It is much better than the crap Argento has been making these days. And like I've said above, it is much better than most non-Argento gialli made in those days. So, the only thing wrong with this great film is that it's a Dario Argento film.