Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Cat O’ Nine Tails – Arrow Video (4k UHD)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Luigi Collo, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi

Release Date: August 23rd, 2021 (UK), August 24th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 111 Minutes 45 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £34.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco Arnò (Karl Malden, Patton, One-Eyed Jacks), who overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute's scientists shortly before the robbery, teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus, Beneath the Planet of the Apes) to crack the case. But before long the bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives imperiled in their search for the truth. And worse still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis, Cannibal Apocalypse), Franco's young niece, may also be in killer's sights... " - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "a brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative."

The Cat O’ Nine Tails comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 91.3 GB

Feature: 76.8 GB

For this release Arrow Video uses the same source that they used for their 2018 Blu-ray release. And though that transfer was an upgrade in every way when compared to The Cat O’ Nine Tails earlier home video releases. It should-be noted that Arrow Video’s transfer looked darker and had a noticeably different color timing than other The Cat O’ Nine Tails home video releases. That said, I prefer how Arrow Video’s transfer looks. And in Dario Argento’s interview that comes with this release his comments confirm that Arrow Video’s transfer is closer to how The Cat O’ Nine Tails should look.

As mentioned before this new release from Arrow Video uses the same source used for their 2018 Blu-ray. And the result is a transfer that tightens up what was already a solid transfer. Most notably, shadow detail, black levels and image clarity. 

Audio: 4.25/5

This Release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language track.


Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a double-sided fold-out poster, 4 lobby card reproductions, Image Galleries: Posters/Italian Lobby Cards/German Promotional Material/US Promotional Material/US Press Book/Soundtracks, Italian theatrical trailer The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1 minute 48 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), international theatrical trailer for The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1 minute 54 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U.S. theatrical trailer for The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1 minute 39 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time (3 minutes 9 seconds), an interview with actress Cinzia De Carolis titled Child Star (11 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono titled Giallo in Turin (15 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with co-screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti titled The Writer O’ Many Tales (34 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an interview with director Dario Argento titled Nine Lives (15 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an audio commentary with film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman and a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an article written by Dario Argento titled Murder in the Dark: Mystery and Madness in The Cat O’ Nine Tales, an essay titled Putting the Audience Through It written by Barry Forshaw, an essay titled Wipe That Expression of Sympathy from Your Face: Learning to Love Cat O’ Nine Tails written by Troy Howarth, an essay titled Grace Notes: The Voice and Music of Edda Dell’Orso written by Howard Hughes and information about the restoration/transfer.


Dario Argento is sometimes referred to as the Italian Alfred Hitchcock, though his style more resembles Brian De Palma’s. The Cat O’ Nine Tails was Dario Argento’s second film and it was part of his Animal Trilogy. The other two films’ in this trilogy are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Ennio Morricone composed the scores for these three films known as the Animal Trilogy.

While most of his contemporaries were working on shoe string budgets, Dario Argento’s resources were much larger because of his father producer Salvatore Argento. And because of this Dario Argento was able to hire American stars giving his production a more international appeal?

Dario Argento has referred to The Cat O’ Nine Tails, as his least favorite film as a director. And though, The Cat O’ Nine Tails doesn’t have the gore and violent set pieces, that have become synonymous with his later giallo’s. It more than makes up for its lack of visceral tone with its lush visual style.

The Cat O’ Nine Tails is arguably one of Dario Argento’s more experimental films. It was only his second film as a director and he was still finding himself as a filmmaker. In The Cat O’ Nine Tails he uses several visual motifs, that he would return to many times throughout his career. Most notably, a shot of the killers’ eyeball and a subjective POV camera that stalks its victims, while concealing the killer's identity.

Two standout scenes in this film include, an extremely well executed train death and the films tour de force finale. Also, Dario Argento’s direction, the editing and Ennio Morricone’s score, make The Cat O’ Nine Tails' finale one of Dario Argento’s best endings.

James Franciscus is laid back in the role of Carlo Giordani and Karl Malden in the role of Franco Arno, conveys a great deal of emotion through his facial expressions and his tone of voice. They make a great team and both actors deliver solid performances.

Dario Argento’s previous film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, featured a more structured story-line, while The Cat O’ Nine Tails moves from one event to the next in a more fractured way. Ennio Morricone’s score starts off sweet, before transcending into some of his darkest jazz improvisations. Ultimately, though The Cat O’ Nine Tails is not one of Dario Argento’s more popular films, still it is a fascinating giallo unlike anything Dario Argento had done before or since.

The Cat O’ Nine Tails gets a solid 4K UHD upgrade from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

4K UHD screenshots.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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