The Curator of Schlock #318 by Jeff Shuster

The Black Cat

Not the Karloff movie

So Cat Month went awry. I wanted to review Uninvited. It’s the one with George Kennedy on the expensive yacht with the house cat with a mutant cat living inside it. Well, it got yanked from Amazon Prime status, and I ain’t paying for that noise. I went on a rage in my little cabin in the middle of the Florida Everglades, smashing all my bottles of Perrier, and now I’m quite thirsty. I wonder how sanitary the water is in these parts. I should have brought my Britta filter.

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This week’s movie is 1981’s The Black Cat from director Lucio Fulci. The movie features a black cat that goes around murdering people in a small English village. We begin with some guy getting into an automobile and while he’s driving, a black cat appears behind him and uses mind control to get the guy crash into a street lamp, killing him instantly. Does the cat have psychic powers like the weirdoes in those Scanners movies or is black magic involved?

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The next victims are a teenage couple who decide to lock themselves in a boatshed so they can shed their clothes away from prying eyes. I think the boyfriend of the young woman locks the shed from the inside, but the black cat steals the key while, at the same time, naturally, causing a gas leak. The young couple sucks on some bad air, causing them to foam at the mouth and die. The mother of the young girl who dies in that horrible way is Maureen Grayson (Daniela Doria). After the police discover the rotting cadavers of the two lovers, Maureen shrieks in horror at the sight.

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Still, she doesn’t grieve for long since Maureen is the cat’s next victim. The cat manages to set her house on fire and Maureen gets caught under some burning curtains. The whole scene is rather disgusting. Maureen’s face begins melting off as if she were made out of wax. She flails about for several minutes before finally deciding to end her life by jumping out the nearest window. Not a good way to go. That’s going to be a closed casket funeral.

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We have a couple of sleuths trying to get to the bottom of these mysterious deaths. One is Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck) and the other is American photojournalist Jill Trevers (Mimsy Farmer). We remember Mimsy Farmer from The Perfume of the Lady in Black. I believe her guts were eaten by a cannibalistic cult at the end of that movie, but I’m not one hundred percent sure of that. The two of them are fairly inept detectives, but really, how does one pin murders on a cat?

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It turns out there’s this crusty curmudgeon named Professor Robert Miles (Patrick Magee, whose tremendous eyebrows you might remember from A Clockwork Orange). The good professor lives in this old, dark house on the edge of town. He psychically feeds his hatred of the townsfolk into his pet black cat and the cat then murders them in horrible ways. Lucio Fulci apparently based this on the classic Edgar Allen Poe story, so naturally it has zilch to do with the original story, but it’s not bad. What more do you want from me? Sometimes “it’s not bad” is good enough.


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.