Seven Deaths In The Cat’s Eye (1973 Italy)

seven-deaths-in-the-cats-eyes-1973-antonio-margheriti No prizes for guessing which actor is the star of this flick. I’ll give you a clue. He or she ain’t human. A very unusual kind of giallo film, taking place as it does not in modern times, but rather in what appears to be the early 20th century. Is it a giallo or is it a Gothic murder mystery with a high body count? Who cares when a picture is as fun as this one.

This is an absolute treat for the eyes – the Gothic atmosphere is really laid on thick here (when it comes to both interiors and exteriors), and the whole is accompanied by a moodily effective musical score. Peter Bryan wrote the novel on which the film was based: having himself contributed to a number of scripts for Hammer horror titles, it doesn’t take much to visualize this as one of their own products since that famed genre brand-name alternated between Gothic-styled fare and modern thrillers. (Usually with a similar attempt to prevent the heroine from laying her hands on a family inheritance at its center) Albeit with a more adult approach typical of the country and the era.

Director Antonio Margheriti managed to assemble a splendid international cast: Jane Birkin as the heroine Corringa (the name of the source novel), Hiram Keller (as the current and predictably mad lord), Anton Diffring and Doris Kunstmann (as, respectively, the shady doctor and luscious teacher ostensibly employed for Keller’s rehabilitation), Serge Gainsbourg (Birkin’s former husband and frequent collaborator, as the somewhat eccentric police inspector looking into the titular murders) and Venantino Venantini (as the new parish priest) and Luciano Pigozzi (as the custodian of the castle grounds).

seven deaths in a cats eye_coat of armsThe story starts off when a young woman (Jane Birkin) returns home to her family’s castle and is reunited with her neurotic mother, lecherous uncle, and angry young cousin (who owns an ape), and before long people start dying left and right. Oh yeah, there’s also a cat wandering around who witnesses the murders. Some of the more unusual plot points involve: Anton Diffring being romantically involved with both Keller’s mother and the French teacher (though the film’s erotic content is disappointingly mild).

Kunstmann is actually a bisexual and, at one point, attempts to seduce Birkin – unsurprisingly, this proved to be one of the ‘deleted’ scenes (though the fling is over before it has even begun!). Birkin and Keller then start off on the wrong foot but end up bonding – and, eventually becomin lovers (despite being first cousins)! Gore is present via images of corpses being devoured by rats and a succession of throat-slashings, while the identity of the killer turns out to be quite a revelation.

The narrative does, however, feature a couple of red herrings in the rather unconvincing element of vampirism (via a family legend which ‘afflicts’ Birkin’s deceased mother – though, for good measure, the heroine herself runs into a clutch of bats while inspecting the castle dungeons) and the even more baffling presence of an ape in the house, with which very little is actually done after all. On the other hand, the titular furry feline is very cute and agreeably enigmatic – contriving somehow to be present at the scene of each and every murder. Meow!

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Comments

  1. Brilliant review, this film sounds fun (and as a cat lover I must say that the ginger feline pictured at the top is gorgeous). 🐱 Congrats on your 306th post High Tea Dreams! Keep up the brilliant work!

    Liked by 1 person

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