(Lucio Fulci, 1981)
A viciously clever black cat is stalking and killing the residents of a small English town. The deaths appear to be accidental, so no further investigation is undertaken. While taking pictures of a crypt in an old graveyard, photographer Jill Trevers (Mimsey Farmer) discovers the head of a microphone, which leads her to the local psychic, Robert Miles (Patrick Magee), who used it to record his conversations with the dead. Jill learns that the old man is routinely tormented by the black cat, and witnesses such an attack.
When Jill is called in by inspector Gorley (David Warbek) to photograph the recently deceased town drunk, she spots scratch marks on the corpse's hand and puts two and two together. But as Jill and the inspector get closer to a truth far stranger than might have been predicted, they find themselves the targets of the diabolical feline.
The Black Cat was clearly a break from Fulci's prior gore-soaked zombie epics. I can only assume he wanted to make a classier, more suspenseful film as opposed to the exploitive, violent films he was known for, which surely alienated a number of his fans. There's little blood, no regurgitated innards, no eye trauma, and the Pino Donaggio score is much lighter than the electronic soundtracks in previous efforts. The slow pacing and hypnotic zoom and cat's POV shots do give it a dreamy, atmospheric edge, but the cheap special effects and thoroughly nonsensical actions on behalf of most of the characters do detract from this. It's worth a gander, but don't expect all-out Fulci carnage. Buy it here.
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