“The Cat O’ Nine Tails”

A Thriller

Amos Lassen

“The Cat O’Nine Tails a thriller that adheres to the theory that a murderer’s homicidal nature can be discovered by studying their chromosomes. When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco Arno (Karl Malden), had overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute’s scientists shortly before the robbery. He teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) to crack the case. However, bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find that their own lives were in danger as they their search for the truth. As if that is not enough still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), Franco’s young niece, may also be in the killer’s sights…

While the film might not be Darion Argento’s favorite of his work, it does hold the test of time as being a solid gialli that showcases Argento’s sense of style.

As Franco Arno and his young niece Lori walk down a street late one evening, they overhear two men in a parked car mentioning blackmail.  Lori is able to spot a man with brown hair, but is unable to discern the other.  They continue walking but once home Arno hears a scuffle outside.  A night watchman at a nearby medical facility was clubbed over the head and someone broke into the building.

The next day, Carlo bumps into Arno and makes mentions an attempted robbery the night before at the Terzi Institute for Genetic Research.  The police discuss the break-in with Giordani and how Dr. Calabresi’s (Carlo Alighiero) office was compromised but nothing appears to have been taken or tampered with.  Calabresi later confides in his fiancée Bianca (Rada Rassimov) that he knows who broke into his office and what was taken and that in the end it will work out in his best interest.  Things however take an unexpected turn for Dr. Calabresi.  While at a train station he meets an unknown man and ends up thrown in front of an approaching train.

When the morning paper arrives the next day Lori reads the day’s events to her uncle and the top story showcases Dr. Calabresi’s death.  Lori tells her uncle that Calabresi was in fact the man from the car.  Knowing such information Arno meets with Giodani to discuss the incident further. 

The film contains some grisly murders (strangulation, train death and others.

All of the murders are centered on The Terzi Institute that is a medical centre involved in research to find a genetic marker that could indicate a tendency towards murder. Malden initially appears to be the film’s lead, but is replaced in that role by Franciscus for most of the film. The plot eventually resolves itself with a great rooftop climax, but the very abrupt ending leaves the fate of key characters unexplained but there is a great deal to enjoy in this film otherwise so we can excuse that.


Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations

Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

New audio commentary by critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman

New interviews with co-writer/director Dario Argento, co-writer Dardano Sacchetti, actress Cinzia De Carolis and production manager Angelo Iacono

Script pages for the lost original ending, translated into English for the first time

Original Italian and international theatrical trailers

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp

Double-sided foldout poster

4 lobby card reproductions

Limited edition booklet illustrated by Matt Griffin, featuring an essay on the film by Dario Argento, and new writing by Barry Forshaw, Troy Howarth and Howard Hughes.

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