Creating a tone for your film is an interesting factor in that it is almost effortless but has to be constantly considered lest you accidentally create a rollercoaster of emotion. A dark comedy finds what’s funny in something that is not inherently comedic and is often at times the opposite of comedic. On the other hand, a serious tone can be undermined by a comedic element that is unintentionally funny. In notorious “so bad its good” movies serious tones are made hilarious by the choices made in the same way that certain decisions can make a comedy not funny. Cauldron Films‘ newest release, The Crimes of the Black Cat, suffers from a tonal issue that creates engaging moments of comedy in moments of drama while making some of the dramatic moments become boring and convoluted.
Within the hustle and bustle of a fashion agency, there are many problems that the owners must be prepared for but one of them wasn’t MURDER. A model is found dead seemingly of natural causes with the only evidence being a shawl with a tear and a scratch on the victim’s neck. After the police break the news to the victim’s ex-love Peter, a blind composer, he decides to do some investigating himself. With the help of his butler and the victim’s roommate, they soon discover a mystery where the only clues are a trail of bodies.
As with their previous releases, Cauldron Films has done an outstanding job with the presentation of The Crimes of the Black Cat. The embossing of the limited-edition slipcover was good enough to make me think that the postal service tore my slipcover in transport. Inside there are four lobby cards, including a postcard of the brand new cover art, and the soundtrack, which is pretty standard music for Giallos with a bit more electric guitars, occasionally leaning more into the funkier side of the decade than most. On the Bluray, you’ll find the restoration has a bit of grain but is still outstanding for a film that is almost 50 years old as well as two commentary tracks, one from Giallo film author Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson and the other from the Fragments of Fear- A Giallo Podcast, as well as the Remember Sergio Pastore featurette.
While the film never hits the boring lows of Cauldron Films‘ previous release Beyond Terror, The Crimes of the Black Cat goes through tonal gymnastics in a way that can lose the audience fairly quickly. This is a film that has an incredibly strong introduction, the set up is clever with how Peter gets his first nugget of information and the death of Paola is mysterious, but as the film goes on the clues weaken the mystery instead of acting as revelations, leading to an ending that while exciting, feels rushed and convoluted.
Again Cauldron Films, for the new publishers on the block, have put out a gorgeous release. The restoration is great, the slipcover is beautiful, and the Bluray is full of fun features. It is always exciting to see a forgotten gem get its time in the sun and The Crimes of the Black Cat may be flawed and nowhere near the top in terms of Giallos classics, but it is an enjoyable enough experience worth purchasing if you are in the market for new releases of underseen films.
7 out of 10
(with a 9/10 for packaging & an 8 for the restoration itself)