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Default Cat O'Nine Tails, The

Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: July 3, 2001

Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 7/10/2001
MSRP: $9.98
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes

The movie Carrie is based on a best-selling Stephen King novel. MGM released a spectacular standard DVD release for this classic film. Lets take a look at the DVD.

The Story

Terzi Research Institute, currently performing some highly confidential work on human chromosomes and their effects on vioent behavior, has been broken into by an interesting thief. Interesting because the thief's motives for breaking into the institute cannot be determined - as far as everyone can tell, nothing was stolen. The only damage done was to a night watchman who was clubbed on the back of the head. One police investigator believes it may be industrial espionage, claiming the thief could have easily photographed important documents to examine later. Both Professor Terzi (Tino Carraro), the head of the Institute, and the rest of the police quickly dismiss such a possibility.

Franco Arno (Karl Malden) is an ex-reporter that is now blind as a result of an accident 15 years ago. He lives with his niece Lauri (Cinzia De Carolis), who has lost her parents. One night, after tucking Lauri into bed, Franco hears noises across the street at the Terzi Institute and has a mental vision of the night watchman being clubbed. The next day Franco goes over to the institute to try and get a better understanding of what happened. It's there where Franco first bumps into Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), a reporter for a local newspaper that's investigating the robbery.

Dr. Calabresi (Carlo Alighiero) is a scientist at the institute, and he's the one man that knows who the robber is and what they actually stole. Calabresi decides not to tell the police what he knows, telling his girlfriend that this knowledge is going to help his career. A mistake on Calabresi's part, since the killer catches up with him before he can do anything with the knowledge. Franco teams up with Carlo to help with the investigation, but the 9 leads they have on the killer quickly begin turning into dead ends. It seems the killer is aware of the investigation, and has gone to great lengths to tie up the leads. Now, with most of the evidence out of the way, the killer sets his sights on Carlo and Franco, and he knows exactly what Franco's weakness is.

inline Image I may not be the biggest Dario Argento fan, but I do love many of his films, especially Suspiria - my personal favorite. He creates films with such a unique style that almost any Argento fan could easily identify one of his films, even if its one they've never seen. His films tend to have a horrific atmosphere thanks to his artistic use of colors, gore, camera angles, and music that, when combined, can often put the viewer into a state of fright with ease. The Cat O' Nine Tails is a bit different, however. It lacks much of Argento's style that so many horror fans have come to love. Where's the brilliant use of colors? The stylistic gore scenes? The fantastic POV shots? The creepy score? They are somewhat present in The Cat O' Nine Tails, just to a much lesser extent than in his later films.

The acting is decent enough, but the story in this giallo is really what does it in. It's dull and rather slow placed, especially when compared to Argento's later giallos. There's also a lack of gore, which is unfortunate, since the gore in Argento films often reaches the level of art. Combine all these weaknesses and what you get is a mediocre film at best. I'm sure the diehard Argento fans will disagree, but I think casual fans like myself will tend to be disappointed.

Image Qualityinline Image

The Cat O' Nine Tails is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is quite amazing, boasting a sharp image with no soft softs. Colors are solid and strong, and flesh tones appear accurate. No grain is evident; the only problems I noticed were a few of the nighttime scenes appeared too bright, and a few blemishes - a handful of those vertical white lines that fade in and out - are present as well. Minus that, this transfer is flawless. I'm rating it an A-.


The sound is in English Dolby Surround (Italian and French tracks are present as well). No distortion or background noises are evident, and the dubbed dialogue is crystal clear. Hardly any activity occurs in the rear speakers, but that's the way most Surround tracks tend to be, at least in my experience.

Supplemental Material

inline Image The primary extra is an interview segment with Director Dario Argento, Writer Dardano Sacchetti and Music Composer Ennio Morricone. It's short, clocking in at about 14 minutes in length, but still very interesting. The aspects they discuss are somewhat evident giving who is involved - the story, how it came to be, what Dario like about it, and, of course, the score. One particularly interesting point is when Dario indicates that The Cat O' Nine Tails is his least favorite film, but that it's his most rented film.

Next is two ratio interviews, each 8 minutes in length, with stars James Franciscus and Karl Malden. Rounding out the supplements are US and International theatrical trailers, radio and TV spots, a poster and still gallery of about 45 pictures, talent bios' for the cast and crew, and liner notes by Travis Crawford.

Final Thoughts

I found the movie average at best; definitely disappointing for an Argento film. The transfer and sound are absolutely flawless on the DVD. There's a good amount of extras, a definite plus considering the $24.98 price tag. No doubt Argento fans will want to own this, but casual fans should give it a rental first to see if they enjoy the film or not.


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

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 52 minutes
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter stops
  • English Dolby Surround 2.0
  • Italian Dolby Surround 2.0
  • French Dolby Surround 2.0
  • Interviews with Director Dario Argento, Writer Dardano Sacchetti and Music Composer Ennio Morricone
  • Radio interviews with Stars James Franciscus and Karl Malden
  • Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Still/Poster photo gallery
  • Talent bios
  • Liner notes
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