Il gatto nero Film Details
Overview: An actress starts seeing visions of a witch character called Levana, which she’s supposed to play in an upcoming horror movie, and slowly begins to discover a supernatural plot against her life.
Tagline: Between dreams & nightmares… between reality & fantasy… lies the terror of
Review: Watching Luigi Cozzi’s “The Black Cat” could potentially be a really confusing experience for anyone unfamiliar with the backstory of its’ making. It was originally conceived as a theme-continuation of Italian cult horror-director Dario Argento’s films “Suspiria” (1977) and “Inferno” (1980) – each having at the centre of its’ story a powerful evil witch as an antagonist. “Suspiria” was about the mother of sighs or Mater Suspiriorum, “Inferno” concerned the mother of darkness (Mater Tenebrarum). Needless to say, there is a third witch to complete the cycle – the mother of tears (Mater Lachrymarum), because according to the original source of the story (upon which Argento’s movies are based) – 1845’s Suspiria de Profundis” by Thomas de Quincey – there are three ladies of sorrow (witches). So, a third film is needed to focus on the final witch. Dario Argento would eventually complete his trilogy much later – in 2007 – with “Mother of Tears”, but in 1989 another Italian director and frequent collaborator and friend of Argento – Luigi Cozzi tried to contribute to Argento’s universe with a film about the third mother. In “The Black Cat” the main protagonist is Anne Ravenna (played by Florence Guerin) – an established horror actress, who is married to successful film director Marc Ravenna (Urbano Barberini) and has recently given birth to their child. Her husband is working closely with scriptwriter Dan (Maurizio Fardo) on a horror-film script called “De Profundis”, about the aforementioned third witch – also named Levana. In the midst of their efforts to secure a deal with a producer and to decide on who’s going to play the central character of Levana – Anne or Dan’s own wife and actress Nora (Caroline Munro) – they somehow manage to bring to life the evil entity from their script. Or so it seems. Anne starts having hallucinations and dreams of an evil witch, with a blackened blister-covered face, who fancies vomiting green bile on people’s faces, threatening them with promises of agonizing death and occasionally shooting laser beams out of her eyes and/or hands, which cause people’s internal organs to explode. A charming creature, for sure. And her voice is so hilariously dubbed, one might think of the sound one might make, if trying to dub the part of baba yaga in a bad homemade cartoon. For some reason Levana is infuriated, that Anne is supposed to portray her in the upcoming film and starts messing with her head, sending her terrifying visions and dreams. But is Levana even real, or is Anne losing her mind? Two words, people: who cares? This film is so poorly constructed and so many ideas are randomly thrown together and forcibly sewn in no particular order into the body of the “plot”, that frankly, it doesn’t make a shred of sense. Apart from the main plot of a centuries old witch resurrected in modern times, there is the subplot of the neglected wife and the cheating husband. There is the subplot of Anne competing for the main role with an opportunistic rival actress. The one about dealing with shady producers to get a movie made. There is the idea of dualism, yin and yang, the good and evil in every human being, presented here in the form of the fairy (the good) and the witch (the evil), who are supposed to be both a part of the main protagonist. Another subplot involves an occult researcher, who is there to supply us with most of the exposition, secure an effective death scene and not much else. In theory, it probably sounds much more interesting and coherent, than it really is. How about the title? Why is this movie called “The Black Cat” at all? In the words of the main male protagonist himself: “What does the black cat have to do with Levana the Witch?” Sure, we see a black cat with menacing eyes here and there in the film, but what is the connection? Well…none. The truth is, unbeknownst to the director Luigi Cozzi, the distributor of the film had already retitled it to “The Black Cat” as a contractual obligation to deliver an Edgar Allan Poe themed film. After Cozzi was eventually informed, he was also requested to add some footage of black cats to justify the imposed title. So, he did. And he must have filmed the extra scene with the two male leads discussing the significance of the black cat, because that struck me as very odd and questionably shoehorned in the plot. The black cats are explained as “witches in disguise”, a quote attributed to Poe from the story of the same name. The opening title of the movie even proclaim: “Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat”. And the film ends up having nothing in common with Poe’s story. So, while I can certainly understand why the forcibly inserted cat-related passages in the story didn’t make sense, there is plenty of other inexcusably nonsensical stuff in the script. An example: there is an episode of the film in which Anne awakes from a nightmare only to find her baby missing from the crib. Panic-stricken, she immediately informs her husband (and her facial expression to this traumatic event is priceless – in an attempt to portray shock and being on the verge of crying, she rather looks like she is trying to hold from bursting in laughter) and the reaction of the husband is amazing. First, he says, that he intends to contact the police (normal reaction), but he then instead goes out to visit his lover for a sexy time and when asked “What about the (missing) baby?”, he calmly declares: “The baby? I’m sure it’s fine. She probably hid him some place”. What? Who wrote that? This must rank among the top 100 most absurd things said by a character in a motion picture. Add to the mix some shaky acting (and even more horrendous dubbing), a plodding pace and clichéd choice of main location (about half of the film takes place in the protagonist’s house), the overdone to death “it’s all a dream” idea, some questionable music soundtrack choices (song fragments by rock bands White Lion & Bang Tango inserted in odd places) and you get quite an unrewarding viewing experience. There are some positives: Cozzi’s visual style is not without its’ merits, one of the on-screen deaths (the occult researcher) was well done and it’s always nice to have the talented and beautiful Caroline Munro in the cast. And talking about Munro, I saw an online scan of an old early 90’s article from a magazine, in which the actress talks about her disappointment with the movie industry and not being paid the full amount stated in her movie contract, at least at the time of the article being published, so this leaves an additional sour taste. I hope, eventually, she did get paid, especially as she might be the main (and possibly only) reason to see this film.
Duration: 89 min
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Also known as: Il gatto nero,The Black Cat,Demonzu 6 – Saishû sensô,Edgar Allan Poe’s the Black Cat,Demons 6: Armagedon,Demons 6: De Profundis,Czarny kot,El gato negro,Dead Eyes,Черната котка,Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat,Demons 6