Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye (1973)

If you read the title and immediately asked whether there is a cat in this giallo, I’m happy to inform you that yes, there is indeed a cat. Often times gialli have animals referenced in their titles but don’t actually use them; that’s not the case here. There’s a cat walking around, and guess how many murders it sees. If you guessed seven, you’d technically be right, though whether the cat witnesses all of them is speculative, since at least one is off screen. Also, there’s an “orangutan” which is a guy in a bad gorilla costume. I don’t know if the cat saw it die, but sure, we’ll take it. So eight deaths then.

A dude gets murdered and eaten by rats. That’s how this starts. Then young lady Corringa heads to the family castle in Scotland, which is run by her poor aunt. She meets her mother there, her aunt, her “crazy” cousin James, a priest, the doctor, the French teacher Suzanne, and a few employees who keep things running. Unfortunately, her mom dies, Corringa discovers her cousin’s weird orangutan, and there is a weird family legend about becoming vampires if they murder each other. More murders happen, the doctor and Suzanne are revealed to be in cahoots and totally boning while Suzanne also happens to be bisexual (because that’s not important but they threw it in there anyway and then act derogatorily about her being a slut). James once painted Suzanne like Kate Winslet in Titanic, Corringa’s aunt actually murdered her daughter years ago, Corringa’s mom might have busted out of her coffin, and guess which cousins are totally boning? Then more murders happen, up until the dreaded reveal of who the murderer is, and that’s when the seventh murder happens if you don’t count orangutans. That orangutan was definitely killed though, and it didn’t deserve it. Most of the people that get killed sucked (mostly. Angus was cool), but that orangutan definitely deserved better. In the end, the local cop reveals that there were no vampires all along, and the whole thing kinda feels like a Scooby-Doo ending before the abrupt shift to credits.

You might be confused by all this, but it’s actually what happens. The castle is full of people with secrets, just like all the secret passages that run through it which everyone seems to know about and constantly use. Frankly, it’s too many characters, and some get short shrift before their throats are slashed with a razor and they find themselves out of the picture. Of course, the killer happens to be the one guy you don’t suspect, which is probably why you suspect him. That makes much more sense than the twists and turns of these people’s horrid lives. Also, it makes more sense than a single cat being everywhere, which is merely used to play on the vampire myth that we know full well to be false, since the victims from the very beginning are shown to be slashed to death with a straight razor.

With the quick ending and sudden onset of credits out of nowhere, it feels like the movie is rushing to tie in loose ends and became sloppy as a result. For some reason, the streaming version may also sometimes swap from English dubbing to Italian with subtitles for a single scene. I don’t know if this was a mistake or a stylistic choice, but I’m betting it was a mistake, and it just adds to the sloppy feel. The terrible orangutan costume is a further mark against it, and damn it, James, stop losing your cuff links!

All that said, the setting used for Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye is quite beautiful, and while the plot is as intertwined as a plate of spaghetti, the actors are interesting enough to keep your attention. There are better gialli out there, but there are also much worse.

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