The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) (Limited Edition 4K Review)

The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) (Limited Edition 4K Review)
Directed By: Dario Argento
STARRING: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak
Rated: UR/Region O/2:35/4K (2160p)/Number of Discs 1
Available from Arrow Video

When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco Arnò (Karl Malden, Patton, One-Eyed Jacks), who overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute’s scientists shortly before the robbery, teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus, Beneath the Planet of the Apes) to crack the case. But before long the bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives imperiled in their search for the truth. And worse still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis, Cannibal Apocalypse), Franco’s young niece, may also be in killer’s sights…This second entry in the so-called “Animal Trilogy” found Argento further refining his distinctive style and cementing his reputation as the master of the giallo thriller. Co-starring Catherine Spaak (Il Sorpasso) and Rada Rassimov (Baron Blood), and featuring another nerve-jangling score by the great Ennio Morricone (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), The Cat O’ Nine Tails remains one of Argento’s most suspenseful and underrated films.

I feel the need to point out that Argento himself isn’t a big fan of this film because he feels it is “too American”. I wasn’t blown away by it either, but that was due to the fact it packs just a slow pace that doesn’t pick up and stay picked up. Don’t get mistaken, it is very well made, packs that classic giallo twist, and does have some cool violence here and there, but it’s the in between that really brings what could have been a much better film down overall. But I do also give credit for going with the leads being a blind man, a little girl, and a reporter instead of being the typical female and reporter lead these types of movies tend to usually have.

The movie as a whole has good camera work and even if it isn’t on the level of stuff we’d see later from Dario the cinematic vision seems to still be looming around from the stylistic side of things. So it isn’t Tenebre, Deep Red, or The Bird with the Crystal Plumage for that matter, but it does top later works like Mother of Tears and Giallo. So to sum it up I’d say, The Cat o’ Nine Tails, is a bit of a mixed bag. I didn’t hate it, but I sure didn’t love it either. But if you like some cool kills, wonderful cinematography, and a nice atmosphere you’ll probably like it well enough. The set that Arrow gives us here with this one is amazing. The movie looks near perfect, but you also get an awesome poster and all the super cool stuff Arrow tends to include in their popular limited releases.


  • NEW 4K RESTORATION from the original negative by Arrow Films
  • 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
  • Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
  • Nine Lives, an interview with co-writer/director Dario Argento
  • The Writer O’ Many Tales, an interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti
  • Child Star, an interview with actress Cinzia De Carolis
  • Giallo in Turin, an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono
  • Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time
  • Original Italian, international and US theatrical trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an original essay on the film by Dario Argento, and writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes
  • Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
  • Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards
  • Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative

Quality of Transfer: 98%

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