The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971)

cat o nine tails poster 1971 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Giallo pictures are interest

Story kind of plods

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Cat O’Nine Tails

Studio:  Seda Spettacoli

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): February 12, 1971 (Italy)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

cat o nine tails cookie karl malden blind

Dang, Cookie…you’re nosy!

A blind man named Franco “Cookie” Arno (Karl Malden) spends his days taking care of his young niece Lori (Cinzia De Carolis) while in turn she takes care of him.  When Cookie hears a crime being committed and has Lori describe what he’s hearing, Cookie and Lori are sucked into a web of deceit when the man is murdered.  Tied to a strange institute, more murders occur and Cookie and Lori could become targets if reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) can’t help them discover the truth before it is too late.

Scripted and directed by Dario Argento, The Cat O’Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) is a giallo horror film.  The film is considered part of Argento’s Animal Trilogy and follows The Bird with the Crystal Plumage in 1970.  The movie was met with mixed reviews and even Argento has admitted that it is one of his least favorite films.

cat o nine tails man hit by train

Don’t let the train hit you on the way out!

Giallo films are often raised above horror, but a lot of their core aspects are typical to the slasher genre (which many of them predate).  The big difference is that you generally have more of a mystery surrounding the series of murders and the murders are tied to a conspiracy.  I enjoyed The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, but The Cat O’Nine Tails is a bit dull.

The story is plodding and the horror isn’t as intense as some of the other Argento giallo films like Deep Red.  It revolves around murders and a genetic company’s investigation into XXY patients who have a predisposition to violence.  It of course leads to a dramatic ending, but getting there is more of a chore.

It is a different cast.  Karl Malden seems out of place in the film since he generally was in more wholesome films or the detective lead of the crime drama.  James Franciscus seems like the more typical lead and it is odd to see him be more of a sacrificial lamb.  Overall, the roles don’t develop enough and it feels like needs to be a more dynamic lead.

cat o nine tails karl malden james franciscus

Is this a test to see if I’m really blind?

A lot of copies of this movie are pretty low quality and that actually helps some films like these.  It gives the movie a grindhouse feel, and if the movie was clean and shiny, it would lose some of the edge.  That being said, with streaming and more viewing options, the film can be found pretty clean.  It would be nice to find a copy with a happy medium somewhere between DVD and Blu-ray to enjoy it more.

Cat O’Nine Tails is unfortunately kind of forgettable.  It is probably “that movie with the blind cop from The Streets of San Francisco” to fans of the genre.  The XXY plot and the conspiracy with the less compelling series of murders just doesn’t hold the interest as much as it could.  Cat O’Nine Tails was followed by Four Flies on Grey Velvet in 1971 which concluded the Animal Trilogy.

Related Links:

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Four Flies on Grey Grey Velvet (1971)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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