Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cat O' Nine Tails

(1971) **

Karl Malden plays a blind, retired journalist who overhears some shenanigans going down outside his house. To solve the mystery, he teams up with active journalist Jamis Franciscus, who has the worst case of sunglass tanline I've ever seen on screen. Meanwhile, the dark character at the center of this conundrum is picking off those who know.

Normally I like Argento's shtick but this was the boringest movie of his I've seen yet. I was on its side for a while; at first I sort of liked the team-up of blind, smart Karl Malden being guided around by his little adoptive daughter. I don't have JPX's automatic problem with little kids in horror movies, but eventually I did with little Lori, since every time she came on screen to give Karl a kiss and say something cute, she'd be accomanied by this poignant flute music that testified to her innocence and cuteness.

The murders are handled in total "killer-cam" mode, with a tight close-up on the killer's eyeball to let us know he's on the scene. The first one is pretty good, but the rest are pretty much phoned in. Turns out the genetics lab across the street from Karl Malden has isolated the rare "XYY" chromosone combination, which is shared by tons of violent criminals. The killer is killing because his own XYY combo was discovered during testing. So essentially, the killer goes on a murderous rampage to cover up the fact that he might, some day, go on a murderous rampage.

I'll admit I hadn't figured out who the killer was, but that's largely because the suspect pool is still half a dozen strong by the time of the reveal. I'd say this one was a must-see only for Argento completists, there's better stuff out there for the rest of us.


Summerisle said...

Yup. This one is kind of crap, one of Argento's worst (and he has plenty of questionable material). The version I saw was of such poor quality that I wondered if the problem was the movie or the transfer. But I think it's a lot of bit of both.

Octopunk said...

I got the feeling the movie I saw had some cut scenes, but I don't think it would have helped.