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Default Black Cat, The (Anchor Bay)



Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: April 27, 2001

Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 6/12/2001
MSRP: $14.95
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes



Anchor Bay Entertainment has stepped up to the plate and released Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (Gatto nero, Il in Italian) onto DVD! Will the wait pay off? Will Anchor Bay's DVD beat out EC's The Black Cat DVD, released back in January 2001? Lets take a closer look and find out.

*** Story outline pulled from The Black Cat - EC Entertainment DVD. Screenshots here are from this actual Anchor Bay DVD. ***


The Story

After two teens disappear in a small town, local police call Scotland Yard for assistance in finding them. Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck) arrives on his motorcycle and immediately begins investigating. Maureen's mother eventually goes to Professor Robert Miles (Patrick Magee), who has the ability to communicate with the dead and control the minds of others. He takes a ring of Maureen's and describes where Maureen is. Her mother heads to a nearby boathouse with police, where they discover the teens locked inside a small room. They're too late however - the two teens are dead from suffocation.

Inspector Gorley's work has just begun; a series of strange murders begin to occur in the small town. Gorley enlists the help of a professional photographer by the name of Jill Trevers (Mimsy Farmer) to take photos of the bodies. Jill begins to notice that all the victims have similar scratches on their bodies, which appear to be cat scratches. She talks to Professor Rober Miles about her suspicions of a cat being responsible for the murders. He tells her that he's certain a black cat is indeed responsible for the murders

Jill tells Inspector Gorley of her theory on the cat - that the cat was only an instrument being controlled by Professor Robert Miles, doing his dirty deeds. At first Gorley thinks the whole idea is crazy, but that quickly changes once he himself is attacked by the black cat. Miles tried to kill the cat before too many suspicions began pointing to him, but his attempts failed and the cat is no longer the one being controlled. With Gorley in the hospital, it's up to Jill to prove that the cat and Miles are responsible for the killings - a notion that the police find absurd. She sneaks into Miles' home to find some evidence, but the odds turn against her when Miles discovers her sneaking about. Jill's only hope is that someone will find her before Miles and the cat kill her, but with Gorley in the hospital her chances of survival appear slim.




The Black Cat isn't one of Fulci's more talked about films. Check any of the numerous horror based message forums around the Internet and you'll see that Fulci's The Beyond, City of the Living Dead and Zombie are often his most talked about movies. Rightfully so, as each one of those is what many consider to be some of Fulci's best work. After seeing The Black Cat, I can understand why many don't discuss it. For one, the story itself isn't very good. There should've been more focus on the cat, and there should've been a lot more murder scenes involving the cat. But hey, many Fulci mans aren't watching for the story. They're watching for the gore and Fulci's visual style. Sadly, neither is present in The Black Cat. A few cat scratches that result in a few spurts of blood here and there, but compared to some of his others, The Black Cat is really lacking in this department. I was expecting a scene involving the cat tearing out someone's eyeball; that just didn't happen though, nor did anything even close to that happen. The worst the cat does his scratch...Zzzzzz.

inline Image It was great to see David Warbeck, an actor who appears in many Fulci films, but I sure wish Catriona MacColl had been cast to play the roll of Jill. The actress who played Jill just didn't do much for me, and Catriona and David had a chemistry between them that worked well on the screen. Maybe Fulci should've stuck to his "living dead" films, as those are his masterpieces. After The Black Cat came The Beyond, so at least he moved back in the right direction.

Image Quality

inline Image

Anchor Bay presents The Black Cat in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. A great transfer by Anchor Bay here; it definitely beats out the EC transfer by a great margin. Colors are gorgeous, providing deep, solid blacks, and natural looking flesh tones. I didn't see any noticeable MPEG artificating either. There's several scenes where light grain is visible, but nothing heavy or distracting. Blemishes are minimal but they're definitely still present in the transfer. Several scenes have some annoying black vertical lines appear on the right edge of the frame which disappear after a few seconds, reappear, and then finally disappear until next time. Towards the end of the movie I noticed a white vertical line that appeared in the center of the image. It would fade in and out every few seconds, but it only lasted for about a minute. Only a small amount of nicks and scratches appear, most of which aren't noticeable. Like the EC transfer, I did see a few scenes (maybe 10 seconds worth at best) where some spots of color - black in this instance - briefly flashed across the image. I should stress that these problems are all minor, and most, except the vertical lines, are hardly noticeable. Overall the image here is extremely sharp and clean. There's no doubt that this is the best The Black Cat has ever looked.

Excellent job done by Anchor Bay here. I'm rating it a very solid B+.

Sound

The Black Cat is presented in English Mono. Sounds and dialogue could be clearly heard throughout the film. No distortion or background noise was heard. Musical score was clear and fairly strong for a mono track. A good mono track overall.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Here is the one department where EC's The Black Cat DVD outshines Anchor Bay's. On this Anchor Bay DVD there is a theatrical trailer to The Black Cat, a Lucio Fulci bio, and some liner notes by Travis Crawford, who does an admirable job trying explain the qualities of The Black Cat. On the other hand, the EC DVD has dozens of stills and a trailer to The Black Cat, plus a 42 minute interview with Lucio Fulci and David Warbeck at Eurofest 1994. I can safely say that Anchor Bay does always include as many extras as they can get their hands on it, so I'm sure the reason the interview isn't on the AB DVD is due to a rights issue or something along those lines. Still, it's unfortunate to see it missing.

Final Thoughts

The Black Cat ends up being a letdown for Fulci fans, lacking in the gore department and on the visuals that so many Fulci fans love. Unfortunately, my feelings didn't change after doing this second review, either. The transfer on the Anchor Bay DVD easily exceeds the one found on the EC DVD, but the EC DVD has better extras. Fans are probably going to want to own both, but in terms of quality, the Anchor Bay release is the one to get.

Rating

Movie - C-
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - C

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 32 minutes
  • Rated 0
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Mono
Supplements
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Lucio Fulci bio
  • Liner notes by Travis Crawford
Other Pictures

 

 

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