Crimes of the Black Cat (1972)

Italy and Denmark unite for a film made in the wake of Dario Argento’s landmark The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Just look — there are crimes right in the title and some vaguely associated animal name! Actually, a black cat does kill some people in this, so the name makes sense.

Originally titled Sette Scialli di Seta Gialla (Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk), this movie was written and directed by Sergio Pastore.

Several fashion models are killed by a murderer — think Blood and Black Lace — by a black cat that has been alerted to them by gifted shawls laced with chemicals. Such a strange way to kill someone, but hey — we’re in the psychosexual world of the giallo, so why worry?

Paola, the first victim, had been dating Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen, who was Django in Django the Bastard and also shows up in Play Motel and The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), a blind composer who believes that he’s heard the killer. He and his butler (Umberto Raho, Enter the Devil) are on the case, tracking the cat down to its owner, who is killed before she can reveal who has been taking care of her cat.

Much like the aforementioned — and superior — Bava film, Francoise (Sylva Koscina, Steve Reeves’ love interest in Hercules and Hercules Unchained; she’s also in So Sweet, So Dead and Bava’s Lisa and the Devil) was killing the models to cover up another killing. That’s because Paola was sleeping with her husband and certainly had to pay.

So yeah. The movie is a Bava remix with a lead character taken from another giallo, Argento’s The Cat O’Nine Tails. And the killer’s method comes from Bela Lugosi and The Devil Bat. Don’t let all that copy and pasting get in the way of your enjoyment of this movie. It’s still fun — the fashions are inordinately loud, the zooms are wild and the music is out of control. There’s a vicious shower kill than leaves nothing to the imagination. And it’s still better than anything out there today.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

UPDATE: This is finally being released on blu ray in the U.S. by Cauldron Films.

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