Felidae (1994)

Life’s weird, because one of the best giallo films — and you could also call it neo-noir or krimini while you’re trying to figure out what it is — is the animated cat film Felidae from Germany. While the U.S. struggles to understand that cartoons can be for anyone, this film has incredibly adult situations all acted out by felines. So while it looks cute, let me warn parents out there that there are some incredibly violent and disturbing images in this movie for kids.

Francis is one of those cats that takes after his owner. Seeing as how he’s the fur son of Gustav Löbel, a romance writer and archeologist, he’s inherited a detached view of the world, like a Chandler character with a tail. They’ve just moved into a new house and the first thing he finds is the body of another cat. As he explores the murder scene, he meets the one-eyed and roughed up Maine Coon cat Bluebeard, who gives him the background of the neighborhood, which is a pretty wild place, seeing as how some of the cats worship a god named Claudandus and regularly kill themselves in his name. He barely escapes them and meets up with a blind cat named Felicity, who reveals more about this group of occult kittens.

Francis next meets the elderly Pascal, who is keeping track of each murder, at which point he learns that Felicity is the latest victim. He soon learns that the neighborhood once houses a laboratory devoted to creating a wound-healing formula that was tested on stray cats, with the lone survivor being Claudandus, who murdered the scientists and freed the strays, leading to his very name being holy amongst the alley’s cats.

Now, one of the cats will reveal himself to be this legendary figure and they’ve selected Francis to be their successor. Will he accept the power or stop this cycle of murder, which has aims of pushing past humans in the evolutionary ladder and taking over the world?

Director Michael Schaack went on to make several Pippi Lockinstocking cartoons, while writer Martin Kluger has mainly worked in German TV. Akif Pirinçci, who wrote the original novel, also had his book Die Damalstür filmed as the 2009 Mads Mikkelsen-starring movie The Door.

With wild dream sequences, mysterious allies, a cult, graphic murders and even a sex scene, Felidae has everything that most giallo does. And unlike some films like Your Vice Is a Locked Room that only have one cat — the black badass known as Satan — nearly every character here  has fur. Sadly, the Engish dub has never been released on a wide basis, which is something that a boutique label like Arrow, Severin or Kino Lorber should fix.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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