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Blue Underground presents
Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye (1973)

"He's mad. Quite dangerously so."
- Dr. Franz Hertz (Anton Diffring)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 01, 2005

Stars: Jane Birkin, Hiram Keller, Françoise Christophe
Other Stars: Venantino Venantini, Doris Kunstmann, Anton Diffring, Dana Ghia, George Korrade, Serge Gainsbourg
Director: Antonio Margheriti

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, gore, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:34m:33s
Release Date: October 25, 2005
UPC: 827058106696
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C C+B+C- C-

DVD Review

With all due respect to Intrigo, some people find cats to be creepy or unnerving creatures. That feeling is capitalized on in this period mystery that derives what little atmosphere it has from the device of a cat witnessing each of the successive murders. As a whole, however, the picture (onscreen title: Seven Deaths in the Cats Eyes) is basically a dull time-waster.

In Edwardian Scotland, Lady Mary MacGrieff (Françoise Christophe) is having difficulty keeping the ancestral castle, Dragonstone, and has decided to hit up her sister Alicia (Dana Ghia) for some funds when she comes to visit. Alicia's daughter Corringa (Jane Birkin) has been expelled from her convent school and comes to visit as well. Things take an odd turn when the scion of the MacGrieffs, Lord James (Hiram Keller) is revealed to be a mad artist under the treatment of Dr. Franz Hertz (Anton Diffring). The doctor is doing some experimentation a la Freud with the help of bisexual French teacher Susanne (Doris Kunstmann). But he is also dallying with Lord James' mother, Lady Mary. Things come to a head when Alicia is murdered and the family covers that up, claiming it was a heart attack, and Corringa discovers a dead body in a secret passageway to the cellar. Soon the bodies are piling up, but why?

The script is something of a hash, with too much going on that never really develops into anything. Foremost among these are a red herring of a family legend about vampirism should one member of the family be killed by another, and a guy in a wholly-unconvincing gorilla suit (though it's described as an orangutan). The opening sequence, as is frequently the case in gialli, only makes sense on a second viewing, once you know the identity of the black-gloved killer. There are plenty of lapses of logic, such as why Corringa, after stumbling onto the dead body, neglects to inform the police or anyone except Lord James.

The murders are fairly pedestrian for the genre, with just basic throat slashings and only nominal gore for the most part. There is one fairly revolting piece of effects work, involving the rat-eaten corpse in the cellar, but that's used up already during the opening credits (though it is revisited later when Corringa discovers the body). The pacing is fairly leaden, with little actual suspense and a lot of wandering around the halls and passageways to no effect. Although some sequences are shot in an attractive manner, others seem highly incompetent, such as the apparent shock sequence in the crypt that is completely unintelligible. What does give the film its edge is the use of the cat, an over-upholstered Persian that is a cold witness to murder and cruelty. It also gets a surprising moment when it leaps onto Alicia's coffin and Lady Mary orders that it be shut up in the crypt along with its mistress. But of course, it doesn't stay there for long.

The presentation here is uncut, with four or five additional scenes inserted from the original Italian version. These do not have the English dub, but are subtitled. Two of these are important to the story: Corringa's dream in which Alicia appears revenant-like and insisting on vengeance, and Susanne's attempts to seduce Corringa, making use of her convent school upbringing. The cast, other than The Great Profile Anton Diffring, is fairly shabby and crude. The dubbing is frequently laughable, especially in the highly dodgy accents. The whole concoction is quite ridiculous and weak in just about every respect other than the excellent production values.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks fine, with hardly any blemishes and plenty of detail. Shadow detail is rather plugged up, however. Modest DNR is apparent on pans, but on the whole it's much better than the standard grey market tapes of this picture.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish (with inserts)no


Audio Transfer Review: The English dub sounds rather mediocre; the Italian inserts have rather more oomph to them. The dialogue tends to have an echoey quality through much of the film, and hiss is occasionally obtrusive, though Blue Underground has apparently tried to minimize the noise through equalization, causing the hiss levels to go up and down depending on the dialogue. The score by Riz Ortolani (More) sounds fine, however, other than some minor shrillness.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:54m:54s

Extras Review: The sole extra feature is an 8m:13s featurette with co-writer Giovanni Simonelli, who talks about his diificulties in working with director Antonio Margheriti, who had a tendency to change scenes arbitrarily. At the end is a coda with Margheriti himself (who died in 2002), explaining his directorial name Anthony M. Dawson.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

A weak entry in the giallo field, rather lacking in both sex and gore and offering little to hold the viewer's interest in their place. The transfer is quite good, and the film is presented uncut.

 


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