"But I can't just go to the police and accuse a shadow... a voice... a scent."
The models at a Copenhagen fashion house owned by Françiose Balla (Sylvia Koscina) are turning up dead one by one... apparently of natural causes. At each crime scene, Inspector Jansen (Renato De Carmine) finds a picnic basket, a yellow shawl, and strange scratches on the corpse's neck. But how does it add up? Blind composer Peter Oliver (Anthony Steffen), the boyfriend of the first victim, aims to find out and his investigation leads him on the trail of a mysterious woman in a white hooded cape named Susan (Giovanna Lenzi). But what connection does Susan have to these models? Why would she want them dead? And how can she kill without even entering the room? The answers will lead Peter into a dangerous world of drugs, money, and blackmail!
The Crimes of the Black Cat (which often goes by its rhyming Italian title, Sette Scialli Di Seta Gialla, or Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk) is a fantastic giallo in the classic mode, even if it borrows heavily from other films. The killer's method comes from the 1940 Bela Lugosi film The Devil Bat, The fashion house setting and most of the plot comes from Blood and Black Lace, the blind detective can be traced to Cat O'Nine Tails, a slow-motion shot of a woman going head-first through a window comes from every Argento movie ever, and the brutal and highly graphic shower murder is an obvious homage to Psycho. But even though it appropriates all these elements, The Crimes of the Black Cat synthesizes them in a clever way and it turns out to be a very satisfying movie, highly indicative of the genre.
- Check out the scene where Peter's assistant, Burton (Umberto Raho) is chasing Susan and she disappears when a rack of clothes passes in front of her. Yet another clever touch lifted from Blood and Black Lace.
- There's not a lot of bad art in this movie. In fact, it looks like Peter owns a Mondrian.
- There's a tense scene near the end where Peter is kidnapped and left alone in a closed glass factory. One false move and he'll fall into a pit of broken glass and the kidnapper uses the facility's machinery to try to knock him down. It's a great, suspenseful scene.
Model Paula Whitney (Isabelle Marchall) is the first victim. Before she dies, her only line in the movie is a nasty homophobic slur against a co-worker.
That shower scene really is the thing that sticks with you, as it doesn't pull any punches. Unlike Marion's murder in Psycho, we see a razor blade tear deep into the victim's body in visceral detail in The Crimes of the Black Cat.
This movie has a giallo killer who wears the classic all-black coat and hat, but it also turns that tradition on its head with a villain in white. Check out Susan's trademark hooded cape.