Sunday, May 9, 2021

SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYES (1973) (Twilight Time Blu-ray Review)

aka Corringa or La morte negli occhi del gatto

Label: Twilight Time
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 Minutes 
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo, Italian LPCM 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Cast: Jane Birkin, Hiram Keller, Francoise Christophe, Venantino Venantini, Doris Kunstmann, Anton Diffring, Dana Ghia, Serge Gainsbourg, Konrad Georg, Alan Collins, Bianca Doria

When a fractious aristocratic family gathers at an ancestral Scottish castle, a straight razor-wielding murderer is also an unwelcome guest in Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eyes (1973, aka Corringa or La morte negli occhi del gatto), a blood-laced thriller – complete with giallo flourishes, tantalizing sexuality, a pet gorilla and an omnipresent ginger tabby – from genre filmmaker Antonio Margheriti (aka Anthony M. Dawson). Singer/actress Jane Birkin plays the willowy heroine whose arrival foreshadows several unnatural deaths, Hiram Keller is the possibly unhinged lord of the manor with a cursed history, and the ensemble includes schemers with homicidal tendencies, all underscored by the shudder-inducing music of the great Riz Ortolani.

Set in an Gothic Scottish castle Antonio Margheriti's Seven Deaths in a Cat's Eyes starts off with a pre-credit shock of a man being slashed in the throat by a razor-wielding killer with his body then being dumped down the basement stairs into a dark basement, where his face is then gruesomely eaten away by rats while a ginger tabby-cat observes the carnage, its quite an attention grabber! We then have the sexy Corringa (Jane Birkin, Blow-Up) arriving by carriage to the ancestral Scottish castle home of her aunt Lady Mary MacGrieff (Francoise Christophe, Erik the Conqueror), after being expelled from her all-girls academy for being naughty. 

Others have also gathered, we have Corringa's mother Lady Alicia (Dana Ghia, The Night Child),  Lady Mary MacGrieff's anti-social son Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller, Fellini Satryicon), James' psychiatrist Dr. Franz (Anton Differing, The Beast Must Die!), the family Priest (Venatino Venantini, The City of the Living Dead), and the sultry bi-sexual housekeeper Suzanna (Doris Kunstmann, Funny Games). The red-herring infused cast is rounded out by the loyal groundskeeper Angus (Luciano Pigozzi, Blood and Black Lace), and married house servants Campbell (Konrad Georg, Slavers) and Janet (Bianca Doria), plus a fluffy ginger-colored tabby-cat... and an orangutan that keeps popping-up Murders in the Rue Morgue style.  

Things start offer proper with a venomous dinner where the fractured family's tempers flare and the accusations fly, and the turmoil continues when the penniless Lady Mary asks for money assistance from her sister Lady Alicia, who is now flush with cash after her husband's death. Then while exploring the secret passageways of the castle Corriinga discovers that rat-gnawed corpse, and then someone smothers her mother to death with a pillow in her bedroom while she sleeps. Add to that delirious sublots involving a family curse that involves vampirism, lustful tendencies, incest and an orangutan on the loose! 

While there is a throat-slashing black-gloved murderer on the loose this is more along the lines of an Agatha Christie styled whodunit with loads of Gothic atmosphere and a touch of the giallo. Its all highly entertaining, if a bit silly, with elements like the tabby-cat observing all the murders is a nice touch, along the lines of Edgar Allen Poe, and probably meant to appear more ominous than it is, but that fat cat looks a bit too content to be anything approaching menacing.

As the bodies begin to add up there is a police presence by way of a police inspector played by French singer Serge Gainsbourg, who was married to Birken at the time, but he's always ten steps behind the killer and doesn't factor into all that much until the abrupt shocker of an ending The Gothic castle is a great setting with gargoyle adornments, creepy candle-lit secret passageways, giving this whodunit some serious atmosphere, even if the kills are not staged all that well or graphically. 

Audio/Video: Seven Deaths In The Cat's Eye (1973) arrives on  Blu-ray from Twilight Time, who present the film in 1080p HD and framed in 2.35:1 widescreen. To me eyes this looks to be the same 2K restoration done by Rewind, who are credited on this presentation as well, that was used by 88 Films for their 2016 U.K. HD release. I don't own the 88 Films release however, but I do however have the 2005 Blue Underground DVD release, and I threw that on to have a look for the sake of comparison, and it's certainly different as far as color-grading goes with what could be considered boosted, hotter colors, it certainly looks overly bright in spots by comparison, and while I am not sure which is more authentic to the theatrical release the Twilight Time release is more organic and filmic looking. Caveats to the Twilight Time presentation would be the darker scenes do show a blue-green leaning and there's readily apparent black crush that saps depth, color and detail from the darker scenes. The better lit scenes however showcase nice depth and detail along with good color saturation and natural looking skin tones. Be sure to checkout over 50 screenshots from the Blu-ray, including a comparison tot he Blue Underground DVD to highlight the color-grading differences. 

Audio comes by way of uncompressed English and Italian 2.0 dual-mono with optional English subtitles. Both dubbed options are solid, not fantastic, but each does the job and are largely free on imperfection. I preferred the English-sub, it's more robust, and the atmospheric orchestral score from Riz Ortoloni (Perversion Story) has a nice showing in the mono mix with good depth and fidelity. 

Extras include an audio commentary with Film Historian Troy Howarth, who always bangs out a well researched commentary, he's a personal top five commentator on all things Euro-cult for me. We also get the original Italian and English trailers for the film. Sadly we do get the interview with co-writer Giovanni Simonelli from the 2005 Blue Underground DVD or the interview with director Antonio Margheriti's son Edoardo Margheriti from the 2016 Blu-ray from 88 Films. SO if you own either of those and are an extras completest you may want to hold onto those. 

The single-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase with a dual-sided, but no reversible, sleeve of artwork featuring the fantastic original move poster illustration. Inside we get a 12-page illustrated booklet with writing on the film from Mike Flannigan that gets into the director's multi-faceted filmography and nicely recapping this Gothic whodunit. The disc itself features the same key artwork. 

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian Troy Howarth 
- Original English Trailer (3 min)
- Original Italian Theatrical Trailers (3 min)

Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eyes (1973) is a tasty whodunit set in a creepy Scottish castle that's more akin to an old dark house tale than a true giallo, but it is still plenty entertaining, delivering all the shock, nudity and whodunit shenanigans you're looking for, as well as a measure of black comedy that makes for an entertaining whodunit. 

Screenshots from the Twilight Time Blu-ray:


Screenshot Comparison: 
Twilight Time Blu-ray (2021) 
Bottom: Blue Underground DVD (2005)