The Curator of Schlock #192 by Jeff Shuster

Crimes of the Black Cat

There should have been a clown in this one. 

Okay. I’ve got a beef with whoever is streaming these Italian movies on Amazon. Stop cropping the picture. I know some of these movies were shot in scope.  Knock it off! HBO does this too. Drives me crazy.

Crimes of the Black Cat

It’s a shame too because tonight’sfeature is 1972’s Crimes of the Black Cat from director Sergio Pastore, a pretty damn good Giallo. If this ever gets released on Blu-ray, the distributer can put “A pretty damn good Giallo”—Jeff Shuster, the Curator of Schlock right on the back of the box. Just send me a free copy of the Blu-ray. I like free stuff.

Crimes of the Black Cat is about a psycho serial killer who murders fashion models. How does the killer accomplish this? By dipping a feral cat’s claws in curare and setting them loose on his victims. In a way, this murderer isn’t really a murderer. It’s the black cat that’s committing these crimes, but the local police don’t see it that way.  I guess getting a cat to do your murdering for you won’t absolve you of the crime. 

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Our sleuth this time around is a blind pianist by the name of Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen), a dapper English gentleman who gets involved when he overhears a conversation in a swinging nightclub. What’s the conversation about? Can you guess? It’s about MURDER! The killer is instructing his assistant on where to deliver the cat. Peter hears the assistant walk past him and presses one of the waiters for a description. The waiter saw a woman covered in a white hood and cloak leave the club, but he couldn’t see her face. 


Another murder happens. While being chauffeured around by his butler Burton (Umberto Raho), Peter hears the footsteps of the exact same woman from the other night. He orders Burton to tail the woman, hoping he’ll get a photo of her. Burton loses track of her. She gets on a bus. Burton races across the street, but gets stopped by a traffic cop for jaywalking.


Wouldn’t it be interesting if the mystery ended there? The murders stop and they never find the mysterious woman again. They never catch the murderer. Peter spends the rest of his life in self-doubt, his career as a pianist in ruins. Burton leaves his side, unable to deal with Peter’s addiction to cocaine. One day Peter befriends a neighbor kid, a gifted prodigy, another Mozart. He gives him piano lessons for free. Though his encouragement, the kid enters a piano playing tournament and wins! Cue the Rocky theme! It’s at this point Peter meets the kid’s mother, the same woman who committed those cat murders so many years ago! Duh duh duuuuuuuuuuuh!

Okay. That’s not how this movie ends. I think Peter uses his deduction skills a little too well, spooking the actual killer. At gunpoint, he’s driven to a bottle making plant. We watch as Peter maneuvers around trap after trap, his walking cane his only guide. The whole scene is quite chilling, a reminder why I take risks and watch obscure Italian Giallo movies on Amazon Prime. 


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.