Dario Argento’s second horror/thriller, confirming the genius of the much-loved director
Part Hitchcock and part Antonioni, a creative and captivating masterpiece of the genre
Following the success of L’Uccello dalle piume di cristallo, Dario Argento gives us another thriller with plenty of innovative horror moments. The previous film’s success in the United States brought some big Hollywood names to the cast: James Franciscus (who had just starred in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes), and the formidable character actor Karl Malden. Audiences were eager to see the film, and its advertising carried this tagline: “After L’Uccello dalle piume di cristallo came out in America, Hitchcock said: ‘This Italian guy is starting to worry me'”. Il gatto a nove code is not just an homage to Hitchcock and the intellectual cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni (the revealing enlarged photograph is a nod to Blow-up), it also confirms the creative and personal strengths of a director well on his way to becoming an internationally renowned master of the genre. Here, for the first time, Argento experiments with a style that many would later try to copy: the camera becomes the eyes of the unseen murderer, forcing the audience to make a dizzying and unsettling connection. The city of Turin is the perfect setting, a mysterious maze where violence can rear its head anywhere, even in a crowded train station. Evil is everywhere, and Argento guides us through it with inexorable pleasure.
In a scientific research institute, a doctor makes a shocking discovery: individuals that possess a certain group of genes are likely to become violent delinquents. The discovery costs the scientist his life, and attracts the curiosity of two amateur sleuths: a reporter and an elderly blind man who enjoys solving puzzles. Before we find out who the killer is, we will have to make it through a long trail of blood.