The Cat O’ Nine Tails appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation looked surprisingly good given its age and origins.
For the most part, sharpness fared well. Occasional interiors felt a bit on the soft side, but these remained modest and appeared to reflect the source. The movie usually came with good accuracy.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. With a nice layer of grain, the transfer appeared to lack problematic use of noise reduction, and it also came free from print flaws.
Colors leaned toward the blue side, though it tossed out some greens and vivid reds as well. These came across with nice vivacity and punch, and the disc’s HDR allowed the tones to seem especially dynamic.
Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows boasted nice clarity. The HDR gave whites and contrast nice impact. Though not an image you’ll use to show off your 4K TV, Cat nonetheless offered a highly satisfying presentation.
Given that Cat exists as an Italian production, one would view its Italian soundtrack as the way to go. However, I don’t feel that way in this case.
Though the film used actors of varying nationalities, it clearly asked them to speak English dialogue. The Blu-ray includes both Italian and English mixes, and normally I go with “original”, but in this case I favored the English track.
I did so simply because it matched the dialogue. Since the actors spoke the lines in English, this made it the logical choice, especially because speech lined up with lip movements better – and the Italian version didn’t use Malden and Franciscus to dub their original work.
Even in that regard, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural track faltered due to the nature of the source. As mentioned earlier, like most Italian productions, all the dialogue got looped in post-production – and looped poorly in this case, as the lines often don’t match mouth movements especially well.
The dubbed nature of the speech meant lackluster quality as well. The lines tended to be thick and reedy, without natural tones. The dialogue always suffered from that “canned” sound so typical of looped material.
Effects tended to feel dated. While they didn’t show much distortion, they also lacked a lot of range or clarity.
Music worked better, as the score seemed satisfactory. I couldn’t claim these elements displayed terrific reproduction, but they became the best aspect of the mix. Ultimately, this turned into a pretty blah auditory experience.
A few extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from film historians Alan Jones and Kim Newman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the movie’s development and place in Dario Argento’s filmography, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, influences and interpretation, music, and other production notes.
Overall, this becomes a fairly good commentary. The chat tends to feel a little more casual than I might like, as Jones and Newman tend to shift among subjects without a great deal of focus, but they still give us more than enough content to make the track worth a listen.
Nine Tails brings us a 2017 interview with co-writer/director Dario Argento. In this 15-minute, 57-second piece, Argento discusses the movie’s roots and development, sets and locations, cast and crew, photography, some scene specifics and his view of the final film.
This becomes a generally informative chat. Argento never really digs too deeply, so the chat lacks great value, but it throws out enough content to merit a listen.
Next comes The Writer O’ Many Tales, a 34-minute, 46-second interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti. He covers what interested him in films as well as aspects of the movie’s story and script, working with Argento, and other aspects of his career.
Whereas Argento kept matters fairly dry during his interview, Sacchetti spices up his chat with plenty of anecdotes. Some of these tend to feel a bit off-topic, but Sacchetti still brings some entertaining tales along with film-related facts.
Child Star spans 11 minutes, two seconds and offers notes from actor Cinzia De Carolis. She tells us about her time in movies and her work on Cat. This doesn’t become an especially fascinating collection of memories, but De Carolis adds some decent notes.
With Giallo in Turin, we locate a 15-minute, 11-second interview with production manager Angelo Iacono. He talks about locations and his work on the film in this mostly engaging chat.
The film’s Original Ending lasts three minutes, nine seconds. Because the actual footage went lost, this presentation gives us photos and script pages.
This adds an epilogue that the final cut loses. It makes the movie’s finish more concrete but not necessarily more satisfying.
In addition to three trailers for Cat, we find six Image Galleries. These cover “Posters” (15 stills), “Italian Lobby Cards” (4), “German Promotional Materials” (25), “US Promotional Materials” (11), “US Pressbook” (13) and “Soundtracks” (7). These add some value.
After a good debut, director Dario Argento fails to live up to expectations via Cat O’ Nine Tails. Though the story comes with reasonable potential, the narrative tends to plod and fail to find the necessary tension and intrigue. The Blu-ray boasts very good visuals and a nice set of supplements but audio seems dated and dull. Cat disappoints.