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Image Entertainment presents
The Black Cat/The Fat Black Pussycat (1965)

"Which will you be, you black creature? A demon or an angel?"
- Lou (Robert Frost) from The Black Cat

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 05, 2001

Stars: Robert Frost, Robyn Baker, Sadie French
Other Stars: Annie MacAdams, Frank Jamus
Director: Harold Hoffman/Harold Lea

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexuality, and brief nudity)
Run Time: 02h:43m:00s
Release Date: November 13, 2001
UPC: 014381079722
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C CCC A

DVD Review

Something Weird Video never ceases to amaze me. They resurrect some of the oddest and hokiest films ever made, but somehow manage to intriguingly package the DVD release in an entertaining everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of way. This new "Killer Kitty" double-feature disc, billed as A Tale Of Two Kitties, features The Black Cat (1965) and The Fat Black Pussycat (1963), a pair of instantly forgettable films, along with a typically bizarre set of supplementals.

The Black Cat (01:13:12)
This is Harold Hoffman's tacky spin on Edgar Allen Poe's literary classic. The story opens with struggling writer (is there any other kind?) Lou (Robert Frost) and his ditzy wife Diana (Robyn Baker) exchanging anniversary presents. Diana's gift to Lou is a black cat, which quickly begins to exude some sort of mental control over the seemingly unstable writer. He and the cat, which he names Pluto, begin to spend a little too much time together, at least as far as Diana is concerned. As he slowly unravels, Lou moves from pouring hot coffee on his pet monkey to gouging out the eye of his beloved cat, and his aggressive tendencies accelerate, as well has his drinking.

There are two scenes that almost make this stiff worthwhile. Lou's descent into madness is goofy and overacted, but there is a great moment when he dishes out a creepy psychotic rave to a bar floozy that is an unintentional laugh riot. After he has removed his cat's eye, the drunken Lou stumbles into his local bar for solace only to discover the band is wearing eye patches and performing a song called Sinner Man. Hmmmmm. Very subtle.

The Fat Black Pussycat (01:28:55)
The Black Cat was just a mere warm-up for this one, the disc's feature film, whose history is more interesting than the finished product. Much like the way the Peter Graves dud Bayou was reincarnated as the sleazy shocker Poor White Trash, the original The Fat Black Pussycat began its life as a simple detective story, albeit a horrendously lame one. Exploitation king M.A. Ripps and his company, Cinema Distributors, acquired the rights to the film, and turned it into a "shocking" horror movie by adding some new footage and re-editing the whole thing into a convoluted mess.

In the mish-moshy Ripps version, the film follows a pair of detectives as they try to find out who killed a young woman in the heart of a big city neighborhood. The weird mix of characters include hip beatniks, a sexy anthropologist, a cat-obsessed chief of police, and an elderly cleaning lady with extremely dry lips. Ripps adds a lurid subplot of lesbianism, which plays into his revised ending that features laughably poor stand-ins for the film's original cast. Character's names change here and there, and continuity seems to have been an afterthought

It should also be noted that Ripps added the whole silly black cat subplot, as well. The film's original title referred only to a nightclub that figured prominently in the story.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicnono


Image Transfer Review: The Black Cat, which is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, looks like it has definitely seen better days since 1965. The opening sequence is nicked and scratched badly, but then the film settles into a fairly steady mix of white specks and source print flaws for the duration.

The Fat Black Pussycat, on the other hand, is a 1.33:1 fullframe transfer that is the better of the two, but that's like saying a knife wound is better than a gunshot wound. Some of the sequences look surprisingly crisp, but others are marred terribly by specks and splices.

While Something Weird isn't necessarily known for image restoration, these titles are cheapo productions and wouldn't really benefit from an improved image transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Both films feature the original mono tracks, and all things considered, neither is exceptionally bad. The Black Cat track is the worst of the two, with a fair amount of hiss and an occasional hollowness. During the hip, groovy nightclub scene, the applause sounds more like a can of broken glass being shaken than actual human hands clapping. In contrast, The Fat Black Pussycat features a more consistent dynamic tone, and is a marked improvement, despite being made two years earlier than its companion.

It's mono from the early 1960s. Don't expect much, and you won't be upset.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Cats, Confessions Of A Psychocat, The Girl From Pussycat, The House Of Cats, Puss N' Boots, Pussycats Parade, The Tomcat
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Kitty Kat Short Subject: Stripper Margie La Mont, The Cat Girl
  2. Gallery of Horror Drive-In Exploitation Art and Horrorama Radio Spot Rarities
Extras Review: Something Weird seems to always excel in the bonus materials department. This disc features over an hour of extras, billed as Kitty Litter, as well as a hilarious three-page insert article by Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter.

Kitty Kat Short Subject: Stripper Margie La Mont, The Cat Girl! (3m:06s)
A burlesque-type striptease quickie from the stocky Margie La Mont. This is a weird mix of calisthenics and alleged erotic dance.

Gallery of Horror Drive-In Exploitation Art and Horrorama Radio Spot Rarities (5m:45s)
Another nice collection of low-budget horror theatrical posters and radio spot come-ons from the era.

Kitty Kat Trailers
Aside from trailers for the two features, there are a total of 7 more cat-themed previews for The Cats, Confessions of a Psychocat, The Girl From Pussycat, The House of Cats, Puss N' Boots, Pussycats Parade and The Tomcat. With the exception of the surreal children's film, Puss N' Boots, all of the trailers are grindhouse titles, chock full of nudity and sex.

Deleted Scenes
7 deleted scenes from The Fat Black Pussycat, including a different ending from the original release. The extra scenes run nearly 30 minutes.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Something Weird DVDs are not for everyone. It takes a certain sort of constitution to sit through these films, and this mildly sleazy double-feature of low-budget filmmaking is curious more than entertaining, and designed more for hard core and adventurous B-movie fans. The humor quotient is high, but it wasn't intentional. The films may be poor, the overall packaging is excellent.

Recommended only for trash movie fans, and of course our own Intrigo.

 


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