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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Black Cats (Arrow Blu-ray/DVD) - Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and The Black Cat

The Black Cats from Arrow Video is just a strange collection. Not that the pairing is completely unnatural; both movies originate with the classic Poe tale of terror, The Black Cat, but when Arrow first announced this set, I have to admit I was confused. Why wasn’t Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key paired with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh aka Blade of the Ripper? That seemed like the normal partner. Both movies by Sergio Martino. Both movies star the ever lovely Edwige Fenech, and Your Vice is a sequel to Strange Vice. Meanwhile we have Fulci’s The Black Cat. I adore this movie. It is often attacked for being a solid mess of a movie, but I think the story is clear, the acting is fantastic and the score is perhaps the best music to write to next to the House on the Edge of the Park score.  What I’ve come to realize after watching both movies in this double feature is that the connection between Fulci and Martino is strong and almost a strong connection can be found in the foundations of both features over the relationship between the Martino pictures put together.

The Black Cat is a clearly a Poe driven story, more clearly related to the source material than Your Vice. It’s heavy on graphic violence and strange, unique death scenes which are pure Fulci. Combined with almost out of place supernatural imagery and a psychic storyline, you can almost find The Black Cat a home in the Gates of Hell trilogy rather than as a standalone adaptation. It’s true that Fulci takes liberties with the original Poe story which works out deliciously for fans. At times you’ll feel as though you are wandering through the movie, unled, exploring the movie as a detective in a near cop drama, but the moments of pure Fulci madness, eccentricity and exploitation will bring you back to center. It is clearly a Horror picture, and unlike its counterpart in this set, features a cat as a vehicle for the story and an antagonist prominently.

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key on the other hand is a beautifully crafted Martino Giallo. There’s no mistaking the quality in this storytelling for the somewhat slam danced work in Fulci’s The Black Cat. It is a clear case of yellow storytelling with a pragmatic killer creating psychological attacks on completely innocent victims with a flair for the whodunit or who will do it, detective style.  It’s a movie for which I have been longing to see on a Blu-ray for quite some time. The previous DVD went out of print some time ago, and was fetching over $40 for a release that holds no water compared to the gem that Arrow has delivered. Of course I am an Fenech nut. I adore her work whether it is comedy, Giallo or even adult fare. Something about her is simply mesmerizing; her feline eyes and go-go hair with a genuine, classic sense of full bodied beauty. She’s clever and she can play the killer just as easy as she can play a victim.

So where do The Black Cat and Your Vice meet? Of course the Arrow box set finds their common core at the source material as adaptions of a Poe story, but where they really connect is in their pure Italian horrific nature, story elements and aesthetic. Both movies have elements of pure Italian exploitation that really sell each picture especially the erotic bits in both movies. The scores are undeniably beautiful featuring premiere composers, genre favorites known for their ability to woo an audience into a dark fantasy world. Both movies look delicious, shot beautifully and edited well (Tomassi does a fantasic job on The Black Cat as he does with all his Fulci efforts).

Both releases look beautiful, the transfers preserving film grain, good color saturation and deep blacks. Arrow delivers as usual. You’d expect that for any Arrow release, but what you gain for each release separately is an extra package that is well thought-out and complete. This is a set limited to 3000. That means you have to grab it now before it goes out of print. It is in cased in a handsome box that holds two separate Blu-ray boxes and a rather hefty booklet filled with essays and a detailed history of adaptations of Poe’s story. Each release comes as a separate Arrow Blu-ray which means you get all the benefits of an individual offering in a nice set. That means reversible artwork. That means that each movie has its own set of features rather than being crushed onto a single disc. The making of featurette on Your Vice is tremendous as is in the new interview with Sergio Martino. Definitely must watch material. On the Black Cat side, Stephen Thrower (a favorite of mine) offers his insight into the creation of the picture. What’s more is that you get a new commentary from Chris Alexander for the Black Cat disc. I love Alexander’s insight into Italian cinema and his essay included in the booklet is also a welcome addition. I’ve included the full list of extras below. There’s a lot to check out and definitely a strong release for fans of somewhat more obscure Italian Horror (I’ll get nailed for saying “more obscure” by true fans for sure).

I can’t recommend this release enough especially since Your Vice is OOP otherwise. The Black Cat was released previously by Blue Underground, a fine edition, but this is clearly an upgrade. Both movies are excellent examples of their respective directors’ style and substance while being non-traditional retellings of a classic Horror tale and given the Arrow treatment.

You can order your copy now while they last. Remember only 3000 were produced. You need to get on this.


From Arrow:

Synopsis: Edgar Allan Poe’s celebrated story The Black Cat has provided the inspiration for numerous films over the years. But few adaptations are as stylish as those offered up by the twin Italian titans of terror, Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci.

In Martino’s classic giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, teacher Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli, A Bay of Blood) finds himself under suspicion for murder when one of his students – and mistress – is found brutally murdered. As more bodies start to pile up, the arrival of Oliviero’s attractive niece (Edwige Fenech, Five Dolls for an August Moon, All the Colours of the Dark) brings with it complications of its own.

In The Black Cat, from that “other” Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci (Zombie), Scotland Yard Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck, The Beyond) find himself summoned to a sleepy English village to investigate the recent murder of a young couple. With no obvious signs of entry at the murder scene, Gorley is forced to start considering the possibility that his suspect may not be human…
Finally together on Blu-ray and in stunning new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives, fans can enjoy the double-dose of terror that is Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats – Italian-style!

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:

  Limited Edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and The Black Cat
  Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives
  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
  Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks
  Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
  Limited Edition 80-page booklet containing new articles on the films, Lucio Fulci’s last ever interview and a reprint of Poe’s original story

YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY:
  Through the Keyhole – a brand new interview with director Sergio Martino
  Unveiling the Vice – making-of retrospective featuring interviews with Martino, star Edwige Fenech and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  Dolls of Flesh and Blood: The Gialli of Sergio Martino – a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the director’s unique contributions to the giallo genre
  The Strange Vices of Ms. Fenech – film historian Justin Harries on the Your Vice actress’ prolific career • Eli Roth on Your Vice and the genius of Martino
  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin


THE BLACK CAT:
  Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker and Fangoria editor Chris Alexander
  Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness – film historian Stephen Thrower on Fulci’s Poe-tinged classic
  In the Paw-Prints of the Black Cat – a look at the original Black Cat locations
  Frightened Dagmar – a brand new career interview with actress Dagmar Lassander
  At Home with David Warbeck – an archive interview with The Black Cat star
  Original Theatrical Trailer

  Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

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