Edgar Allan Poe’s excellent story “The Black Cat” has inspired several film adaptations, including this one from 1981, directed by Lucio Fulci and starring Patrick Magee and Mimsy Farmer. I am going to just tell you straight up that this particular style of horror film (i.e., weird) is not our favorite. We’re also not big fans of blaming stuff on black cats and making them out to be basically evil creatures. That said, we try to give The Black Cat a fair shot.
See, there’s this psychic who controls a cat (sort of)…
The setting is an English village, where a series of odd events is taking place, all tied to a black cat. The movie opens with a cat’s-eye view of a man headed off to go fishing, only to lock eyes with this black cat and then crash his car in rather spectacular fashion. One point for the cat.
Next, we meet an American woman (played by Mimsy Farmer) who is traipsing across the countryside in heels (as you do) taking photographs. She discovers an open crypt with skeletons lying about, chained from the ceiling—you know, the normal sort of thing—and she is not freaked out by this at all.
I sort of forget the order of things at this point, because it was about here that we started to think the whole movie would be a series of weird, tangentially connected events. Anyway, we meet a young couple looking for a quiet make-out spot, only they end up locking themselves in an airtight room in a secluded boathouse (do not try this at home), whereupon the black cat sneaks in and steals the key. He also apparently breaks the ventilation system, so now the room really is airtight, and the couple slowly die. At least they’re together.
We also meet this creepy old guy, Robert Miles (played by Patrick Magee), who is apparently trying to communicate with the dead. He seems to have a hate-hate relationship with the mysterious black cat, who scratches him repeatedly, and it later becomes clear that Miles is controlling the cat (or is he?), for reasons of vengeance (don’t try this at home either).
The American photographer gets roped into taking police photos of a deceased man who was unfortunately impaled on a spiky thing (courtesy of the black cat again). She notices some scratches on his hand, which are exactly like the scratches she’d seen earlier on Miles. This gets her thinking. Could this series of unfortunate events all be related to…a cat?
Killing the cat is not helpful
After yet another death (flaming woman jumps through window), Miles decides to take care of this cat problem, by drugging the cat and then hanging it. But the cat’s death only makes things worse, and now things get really weird, ending with Miles trying to also “take care of” the pesky American by bricking her up in the cellar (yes, she gets rescued).
The question in the end is whether Miles controlled the cat or the cat controlled Miles or… Oh, I don’t know.
If you like weird horror things…
Yes, if you enjoy this kind of weird horror flick, then you might really enjoy this version of The Black Cat. Honestly, it is not our cup of tea. We found the story disjointed and frankly not very enjoyable. The movie uses frequent close-up shots of eyes, human and feline, which just got on our nerves after a very short time. Well, the feline eyes were nice; the human eyes were often just…icky. Still and all, this is a horror film of a certain sort, and icky comes with the territory.
On the bright side, Real Cat Webster really enjoyed watching the rather handsome black cat, especially in the film’s opening moments. Too bad the cat was bent on killing people.
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good movie; two paws is for a great movie. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the movie through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.