The divine Mr. Anthony M. Dawson, aka Antonio Margheriti, is back with his third giallo flick (this one’s an Italian-French-West German co-production), the others being (the previously reviewed) Nude, She Dies, and 1971’s Web of the Spider (but discriminating gialli connoisseurs will argue that’s more of a straight horror film because it’s color remake of Tony’s own film, 1964’s Castle of Blood. But that’s another review-debate for another time).
Jane Birken (be still my beating heart) (of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up, Jack Smight’s (Damnation Alley) Kaleidoscope, and the 1973 Christopher Lee-starring British horror Dark Places) stars as Corringa MacGrieff . . . in a film you’d swore was made by Dario Argento, as we’ve got a POV murderer with a straight razor, we’ve got a secluded castle in the Scottish highlands, we’ve got a dungeon, we’ve got a cat, and . . . an orangutan (it’s all about the seclusion, and the animals and insects in gialli).
(And are we plot-spoiling by telling you that seven people die . . . and the ginger cat creeping around the dank castle sees it all? Yeah, and the orangutan gets around—but Seven Death’s in the Orangutan’s Eye sounds stupid.)
So Birken is the ubiquitous bad girl expelled from another Catholic school. And she returns to Dragonstone Castle where she used to spend her summers. At the castle she reunites with her mother Alicia (Dana Ghia of Massimo Dallamona’s The Night Child) who’s doting over her sister, Corringa’s Aunt Mary, the penniless owner of Dragonstone. And like any Agatha Christie novel, we have a full house, with headshrinker Dr. Franz (Anton Diffring of The Beast Must Die and Circus of Horrors) and Father Robinson, the live-in priest (Venantino Venantini of City of the Living Dead), Suzanne, the French teacher (bisexual, natch) (Doris Kunstmann of 1997’s Austrian-made Funny Games), and Corringa’s nutty cousin Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller of Fellini Satyricon) and the Lord’s pet orangutan.
Hey, shouldn’t there be a creepy gardener/groundkeeper? Yep, there is: Angus (Luciano Pigozzi of Blood and Black Lace).
Of course, the Doc is there to take care of crazy James, but also to boink Aunt Mary, and Suzanne—who, in turn, has eyes for Corringa. So while the sisters argue over the family’s money and estate, Alicia is murdered. Then there’s another murder. And the local townsfolk fear a vampire is on the loose: for when a MacGrieff kills another MacGrieff, that victim turns into a vampire—so says the “legend.”
If you’ve watched a lot of Italian horror films—and you know the frugalness of the Italian film industry, where nothing goes wasted—you’ll notice the castle exteriors are the same exteriors from Mario Bava’s Black Sunday and the lush castle interiors from The Whip and the Body. And if it all sounds plot recycling from Margheriti’s own Castle of Blood and The Virgin on Nuremberg, it probably is.
One may argue Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye is more British gothic than Italian giallo because it lacks spectacular kills, but the lush cinematography and stylized shots we love in our gialli, is there in spades.
You can (if you’re a member) watch a pristine, ad free and uncut stream on Shudder. The DVDs and Blus (on the Blue Underground and 88 Films labels) are all over the brick-and-mortar and online marketplace, easily picked up at your local Best Buy and Walmart. But, hey, times are tight in these virus days, so we found a two, free rips to enjoy for free on You Tube HERE and HERE. You can purchase the uncut, uncensored and fully restored film from original European vault materials at Blue Underground.