The Cat o' Nine Tails

Il gatto a nove code

Director Dario Argento / 1971 / Italy

Do murderous thoughts lurk in our very DNA? Dario Argento interrogates nature vs nurture in his suspenseful second film.

When a mysterious break-in occurs at the Terzi Institute for genetic research, the only thing amiss is the glaring lack of stolen goods. But these apparently low stakes soon escalate wildly, as someone with everything to lose begins eliminating ‘loose ends’. After Franco, a blind crossword-puzzle devotee, learns that intrepid reporter Carlo is on the case, he and his young niece Lori feel compelled to pay Carlo a visit. Can this ragtag crew spy what everyone else is missing and unmask the killer?

The bracing second instalment of Argento’s ‘Animal’ trilogy, The Cat o’ Nine Tails explodes with a distinctive flair, showing early flashes of the Italian horror king’s brilliance – particularly in an eye-popping train-station-set shocker. Further pizzazz is injected by American actors Karl Malden, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Elia Kazan’s A Streetcar Named Desire, and Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ James Franciscus, which is only ramped up with a heart-startling score composed by none other than Ennio Morricone.

“Begins Argento’s lifelong fascination with the grotesque close-up … and showcases his formal obsession with the disorienting effects of architecture and interior design.” – Slant


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