Blu-Ray Review: The Cat O’ Nine Tails

As Ana Lily Amirpour discovered to her cost last year, following up on a critically acclaimed debut can be a tricky business. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was widely lauded, and for good reason. However, her second film, The Bad Batch, was at best messy. The ‘sophomore slump’ has afflicted many directors, most famously Steven Soderbergh who followed up the phenomenal Sex, Lies and Videotape with the forgettable (and forgotten) Kafka. When Dario Argento released The Bird with a Crystal Plumage in 1969 he caused a stir. It’s fair to say that his follow-up, The Cat O’ Nine Tails was a disappointment. However, there’s still much to admire.

Whilst Franco Arnò (Karl Malden) is out walking with his teenage niece (Cinzia De Carolis), he overhears a man talking about blackmail. Blind, Franco cannot identify the man. However, when there’s a break in at a nearby medical complex that very night he makes himself known to Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), a reporter sent to cover the story. The pair team up to investigate the crime but there’s a killer on the loose and their lives are in danger.

Although Argento considers The Cat O’ Nine Tails to be his weakest film, it still contains many elements of what has made his work so popular. There’s just not that spark or originality we’ve come to expect. The plot is slightly muddled as well. However, even a weaker Argento film is better than most and The Cat O’ Nine Tails is a compelling murder mystery. It may not be his best but it’s still highly entertaining.

Limited Edition Contents:

• Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
• New interviews with co-writer/director Dario Argento, co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, actress Cinzia De Carolis and production manager Angelo Iacono
• Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time
• Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
• Double-sided fold-out poster
• 4 lobby card reproductions
• Limited edition booklet illustrated by Matt Griffin, featuring an essay on the film by Dario Argento, and new writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes

The Cat O’ Nine Tails is released on dual format (DVD & Blu-ray) by Arrow Video on 29 January.

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