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  Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye curiosity compels the cat to keep watching
Year: 1973
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Stars: Jane Birkin, Hiram Keller, Anton Diffring, Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Christophe, Venantino Venantini, Doris Kuntsman, Dana Ghia, Luciano Pigozzi
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: “You are absolutely on fire tonight darling! Are you excited by all the blood that has been flowing around here?” Such delicious dialogue typifies this glorious, gothic giallo, where co-writer/director Antonio Margheriti throws in everything he can, in a madcap bid to entertain. Giallo fans, say “arrivederci!” to logic and restraint, and “bonjourno!” to razor-wielding killers, a haunted castle, a rampaging gorilla, a psychotic aristocrat, vampire myths, sexy costumes that don’t befit the 19th Century setting (Who cares?), French crooner Serge Gainsbourg as a laconic, Scottish detective, and the titular, lazy-eyed (possibly supernatural), ginger furball. Phew! It’s a wild movie, hard to defend but easy to love.

Following an opening razor murder, witnessed by our spooky feline friend, the story begins with schoolgirl heiress Corringa MacGrieff (gorgeous, pouting, pop chanteuse Jane Birkin) returning home to her family’s creepy castle. Supposedly set in Scotland, the sunny climes on display are clearly Mediterranean but honestly, given the choice – where would you rather film? Corringa is reunited with her mother, Lady Alicia (Dana Ghia) and clan matriarch Lady Mary (Francoise Christophe), and encounters an array of scheming visitors: leery Doctor Franz (Anton Diffring), caring Father Robertson (Venantino Venantini), an ‘ooh-la-la’ French tutor (Doris Kuntsman), and snide anti-hero Lord James (Hiram Keller), who keeps a gorilla caged in his room and supposedly murdered his own sister. Nice. As the killings continue, Corringa is guided by spectral visions and uncovers hidden secrets, while that darn cat keeps a watchful eye.

Truth be told, the murders are pretty anaemic stuff, lacking in invention. However, Margheriti weaves a hallucinatory atmosphere where dreams intermingle with equally off-kilter reality. Lighting and art direction overflow with candy colours and psychedelic detail while, as Corringa explores secret passageways and cobwebbed corridors, gothic monstrosities leer out of every wall. Jane Birkin’s brittle, commendably straight-faced performance goes above and beyond the call of duty for a campy, horror flick. Her discovery of a dead loved one is a well-judged mixture of compassion and disgust. American actor Hiram Keller (who shot to fame in Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) and starred in other gialli) is saddled with a diffident, dislikeable hero and can’t do much with the part. Much more fun is Serge Gainsbourg as the eccentric, nameless, police inspector. Margheriti and co-screenwriter Giovanni Simonelli should have rewritten their script to make Gainsbourg the hero. He and Birkin previously starred together in the pop-art crime comedy Cannabis (1969), and re-teamed for his directorial debut, a downbeat erotica based on their chart-topping hit Je t’aime moi non plus (1975). They are the parents of gifted actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Antonio Margheriti doesn’t enjoy the same fan following as Lucio Fulci, but his films (particularly those from his Sixties/Seventies heyday) are more entertaining. British born sex bomb Jane Birkin (“What a woman!” recalls Simonelli, in an interview included on this DVD) is a huge star in France. Aside from her arthouse output, she made a string of sexy comedies and crime capers that, were they available on domestic DVD (And they really ought to be!), might convince others she’s a national treasure.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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Antonio Margheriti  (1930 - 2002)

Italian writer and director who worked in a variety of genres throughout his career, although largely horror, science fiction and western. Some of his films include Castle of Blood, The Wild, Wild Planet, The Long Hair of Death, Take a Hard Ride, Killer Fish, Cannibal Apocalypse and Yor, Hunter from the Future.

 
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