"James, I shall truly go mad if this keeps on."
After being expelled from her boarding school for naughty behavior, Corringa (Jane Birkin) visits her relatives at the family castle in Scotland. Among those living at the castle, she finds her mother (Dana Ghia), her aunt, Lady Mary MacGrieff (Françoise Christophe), her uncle, Dr. Franz (Anton Diffring), and their son, Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller), who is as moody and troubled as he his young and handsome. When Corringa's mother is brutally murdered, she learns that the people in these parts take the family lore – stories of vampires and murder – very seriously. After the funeral, Corringa is shocked to discover that her mother's coffin has been busted open and that the body is missing. When more and more people are found dead, Corringa is left to wonder if her mother has become a vampire and if James could be one too. It would certainly explain his odd behavior. The only witness to the gruesome attacks is the family cat. But is it a witness... or the killer?
Seven Deaths In the Cat's Eye (not to be confused with The Cat With Jade Eyes) is Antonio Margheriti's fusion of giallo and Gothic horror. I'd say that the movie is about 50% of each and wavers between the two worlds but, in the end, it's clearly a giallo. In a way, the Gothic elements (dark castle, family curse, vampires, catacombs, bats, etc.) act as a cover for the killer and his very human motives, diverting attention away from what's really going on. To put it another way, superstition is an accomplice in the killings.
- The castle and most of the fashions may be from the 19th Century or earlier, but the movie is actually set in the 1920's. We can tell by the jazz records, the mention of Sigmund Freud, and Corringa's modern attire in the funeral scene (see below).
- A gorilla locked in a castle suspected of murder? This is a not-even-subtle appropriation from Poe's "Murders In the Rue Morgue." The supernatural angle and the family curse are clearly inspired by "The Fall of the House of Usher."
- If Antonio Margheriti's name sounds familiar, then you my be a Tarantino fan. In Inglourious Basterds, Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) goes undercover as Italian cameraman "Antonio Margheriti" when the commandos infiltrate the Nazi movie premiere. It's Tarantino's homage to the great pulp director.
What the Hell Am I Watching?
You read correctly. This is a movie that sheds suspicion of murder on a fluffy lap cat. In fact, here's a drinking game for Seven Deaths In the Cat's Eye: drink every time the cat shoots a menacing look at the camera. Sip if it's just a drawing of the cat.
The cat's name is "Kitty," by the way.
Sad but fashion-forward. Corringa wears black feathers and a stylish bell hat. It's what all the flappers in mourning are wearing this season.