The Black Cat (1981)

Genres - Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Italy, UK  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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In between better-known hardcore horrors like Zombie and The Beyond, Lucio Fulci tackled the gothic genre with this unusual effort. That said, one shouldn't expect a subtle creepfest from The Black Cat -- this is the Fulci version of a gothic tale, meaning that it shoehorns in shocks like a human torch crashing through a window or someone taking a header through their car's windshield in between subtler story developments. As usual, he conjures up a spooky atmosphere with effortless skill -- a scene with Patrick Magee wandering through a fog-shrouded graveyard at night is truly creepy -- but the film's meandering script makes it sputter when it should be building in intensity. Thus, The Black Cat never rises above being an exercise in style but patient horror fans will find it has a decent amount to offer on that level: Sergio Salvati's prowling camerawork gives it plenty of visual interest and Pino Donaggio contributes a lush orchestral score that enhances the film's spooky aesthetic. The Black Cat also has a fine cast: Euro-cult genre stalwarts David Warbeck and Mimsy Farmer turn in solid work as the heroes and Patrick Magee has a ball hamming it up as the film's central figure of dark mystery. In short, The Black Cat is probably best left to the hardcore Euro-cult fans but it offers enough points of interest to entertain said viewers.