Friday, June 3, 2022

The Crimes of the Black Cat – Cauldron Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/Denmark, 1972
Director: Sergio Pastore
Writers: Sandro Continenza, Sergio Pastore, Giovanni Simonelli
Cast: Anthony Steffen, Sylva Koscina, Giovanna Lenzi, Renato De Carmine, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho, Annabella Incontrera

Release Date: July 6th, 2021
Approximate running time: 98 Minutes 38 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95

"After a young model seemingly dies of a heart attack, her lover, Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen, The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave, Django the Bastard) and his butler begin their own investigation into the death and soon find an intertwined series of murders, all involving a cat and a yellow shawl. One step ahead of the police, but always right behind the killer, Peter manages to piece together clue after clue until the final, shocking showdown with the bloodthirsty killer." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.75/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “Uncut 4K restoration from 35mm archival materials."

The Crimes of the Black Cat on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 31 GB

Feature: 27.1 GB

Considering the limitations of the source used for this transfer, the result is a transfer that looks very good. There are no glaring issues with source-related damage; though there is color fluctuation, colors fare well; black levels are adequate; the image generally looks crisp; and the image retains an organic look.

Audio: 3.75/5 (LPCM Mono English), 3.5/5 (LPCM Mono Italian)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. The English language track is in very good shape. Dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, and range-wise this track is satisfactory. The Italian language track is not in as good of shape. It has instances of background hiss. Included with this release are two subtitle options: English subtitles for the Italian language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.


Extras for this release include reversible cover art, an image gallery (lobby cards/posters/home video art), a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 50 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an interview with Sara Pastore titled Remembering Sergio Pastore (17 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival featurette titled Sergio Pastore-Un Ammirevole Indipendente (17 minutes 12 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, and an audio commentary with Peter Jilmstad and Rachael Nisbet.


Made during the end of the early 1970’s Giallo cycle that was inspired by Dario Argento’s Animal trilogy, The Crimes of the Black Cat is a film that feels like a melting pot of the Gialli that preceded it. Two films that obviously influenced The Crimes of the Black Cat are Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, which is also set in the world of models and fashion, and Dario Argento’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails, which also features a blind character who becomes a sleuth investigator.

Where most filmmakers who worked in Italian genre cinema tended to make several films within whatever genre was popular at that time, Sergio Pastore was a less prolific filmmaker who just happened to direct one Giallo. That said, despite this being his only foray into the Giallo genre, he does a good job of exploiting this genre's tropes.

Where most Gialli open with a thrilling moment that sets the table for the events that follow, The Crimes of the Black Cat has a sluggish start in which the first killing does not occur until about twenty-six minutes in. That said, The Crimes of the Black Cat saves most of its carnage for the last forty-five minutes. Also, there is an interesting moment of misdirection that takes place in a glass factory that leads to a very satisfying finale.

The cast ranges from adequate to good. The standout performance was given by Anthony Steffen (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) in the role of a blind composer named Peter Oliver. Notable cast members include Sylva Koscina (Lisa and the Devil) in the role of a fashion designer named Françoise Ballais, and Giacomo Rossi Stuart (Kill, Baby, Kill!) in the role of Françoise’s husband. Another performance of note is Giovanna Lenzi (An Angel for Satan) in the role of a junkie who holds the key to the killer's identity.

When discussing Italian genre cinema, one of the key components to these films' scores are their scores. The score for The Crimes of the Black Cat was composed by Manuel De Sica, who’s most known for his score for Dellamorte Dellamore. That said, he delivers an eclectic score for The Crimes of the Black Cat that has a few music cues that feel out of place. In spite of the fact that Crimes of the Black Cat contains many elements that are associated with the Giallo genre, The result is an underwhelming film that has a few standout moments.

The Crimes of the Black Cat gets a great release from Cauldron Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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