Friday, October 25, 2013

Night of Terror #25: 'The Black Cat'

"Man, you're watching a lot of Fulci movies lately." "Yeah, what are you, some kind of a sicko?" Well first of all, hypothetical individuals who represent my sublimated conscience, I've only watched two Fulci movies this month. And secondly, I pretty much only watch his stuff in October since I generally find him pretty hard to stomach. I'm pretty neutral towards gore in movies, but Fulci makes it really tough to disengage the part of your brain that thinks movies are "real" and just appreciate the spectacle, exactly because he favors effects that look so realistic.

That sensibility can infect the other parts of his movies, too - for that reason he's never struck me as a particularly atmospheric director, his movies are too microscopically constructed to build the kind of fog-drenched spookiness you see in conventional horror movies. That's not so for The Black Cat, though - I'm delighted to report that this is a very fun combination of Fulci's style and spooky atmosphere that for me works very well.

It's not as suspenseful as other top-tier Fulci movies, perhaps because the idea of a small black cat stalking around killing people is only slightly less ridiculous than that killer tire movie. But he makes the most of it, with lots of prowling "cat's-eye-view" shots punctuating the mayhem. And unlike The Psychic or some of his other giallos, the plot never gets too convoluted for its own good, instead featuring a kind of single-minded progression that Edgar Allan Poe himself would probably approve of.

There's also a typically lush score from Pino Donaggio, giving the movie a classier aural backdrop than these types of movies usually have. And compared to his performance in A Clockwork Orange, Patrick Magee is positively restrained. All in all, probably the most Halloween-appropriate Fulci movie that doesn't have any zombies in it.


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