Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats: Two Adaptations by Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci


Review by David Paul Hellings



“Edgar Allan Poe’s celebrated story The Black Cat has provided the inspiration for numerous films over the years. But few adaptations are as stylish as those offered up by the twin Italian titans of terror, Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci.

In Martino’s classic giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, teacher Oliviero (Luigi Pistilli, A Bay of Blood) finds himself under suspicion for murder when one of his students – and mistress – is found brutally murdered. As more bodies start to pile up, the arrival of Oliviero’s attractive niece (Edwige Fenech, Five Dolls for an August Moon, All the Colours of the Dark) brings with it complications of its own.

In The Black Cat, from that “other” Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci (Zombie), Scotland Yard Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck, The Beyond) find himself summoned to a sleepy English village to investigate the recent murder of a young couple. With no obvious signs of entry at the murder scene, Gorley is forced to start considering the possibility that his suspect may not be human…

Finally together on Blu-ray and in stunning new 2K restorations from the original camera negatives, fans can enjoy the double-dose of terror that is Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats – Italian-style!”

-via Arrow Video


“Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key”

Following the success of Dario Argento’s “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”, Italian horror went through a period of copy cat film releases with increasingly lengthy and abstract titles with which to gain sales interest (“5 Dolls for an August Moon”, “The Red Queen Kills 7 Times”, “Lizard in a Woman’s Skin”, etc) and audiences attracted to the giallo style that had become immensely popular. Sergio Martino’s “Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key” followed suit, adding sex to boost sales.

A highly effective take on Poe’s classic tale, Martino’s film boasts strong performances from Luigi Pistilli (“The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, “For a Few Dollars More”) and Anita Strindberg” (“Who Saw Her Die?”) with able support from Edwige Fenech (“5 Dolls for an August Moon”, “Hostel II”) in a tale of the fading decadent bourgoisie lives of a broken, degenerate and bitter writer psychologically torturing his wife, sleeping with his niece (and others); and the wife, in turn, seeking revenge upon her sadistic husband, with the added plot of a scythe wielding killer on the loose. “Your Vice….” owes more to Mario Bava in terms of style and storytelling than to Argento, whilst keeping to the spirit of Poe’s original story.

Character driven and creating a sense of the spoiled and lazy in a crumbling villa, director Martino creates a fascinating take on the destructive nature of relationships. Luigi Pistilli (better known to most Western audiences as the sympathetic priest brother to Eli Wallach in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”) is a brutal, unsympathetic character in Martino’s giallo, a film reminiscent at times of “Les Diaboliques” with the curious relationship between wife and niece towards the sadistic husband/uncle they are living with and their growing plans to rid themselves of the male problem in their midst.

Martino’s film is classic giallo and a worthy addition to any fan of the sub-genre’s collection. It has a plot that produces surprises and uses Poe’s story to create a well crafted ‘who is doing it?’ scenario that will keep viewers guessing to the end.

Special Features:

Through the Keyhole – a brand new interview with director Sergio Martino.

Unveiling the Vice – making-of retrospective featuring interviews with Martino, star Edwige Fenech and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi.

Dolls of Flesh and Blood: The Gialli of Sergio Martino – a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the director’s unique contributions to the giallo genre.

The Strange Vices of Ms. Fenech – film historian Justin Harries on the Your Vice actress’ prolific career.

Eli Roth on Your Vice and the genius of Martino.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.


“The Black Cat”

A surprisingly restrained outing from goremeister Lucio Fulci, “The Black Cat” also opts for (slightly) greater plot logic from a director who seemingly abandoned any notion of it in his more celebrated films such as “The Beyond”. ‘Freely adapted’ from the Poe classic story, Fulci’s film is an initial slow burn that builds in momentum. It is an atmospheric outing and relatively gore free, aided by an excellent performance by the always fascinating Patrick Magee (“A Clockwork Orange”) with able support from Mimsy Farmer (“Four Flies on Gray Velvet”) and Fulci regular David Warbeck (“The Beyond”).

Most audiences will usually judge film versions of the work of Edgar Allan Poe by the cycle produced by Director/Producer Roger Corman and the lush Gothic nature of the outings with actor Vincent Price, but Fulci’s contemporary take works well, utilising the English locations (albeit with a somewhat dodgy British policeman with longish hair and unfashionable moustache) and the misty scenes involving Magee are suitably creepy. Warbeck was always reliable when working with Fulci, and it’s a rare chance to see Farmer who performed so well in Dario Argento’s “Four Flies on Gray Velvet”; but it is Magee (who passed away the following year) that steals the acting honours, with nobody ever quite able to play the sense of threat and mood changes from seemingly sane to fractured mind quite the way he did (no wonder that he was such a regular in the stage works of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter). In the many extreme close ups of his eyes in “The Black Cat”, it is as though his character, the troubled medium Robert Miles, is staring into the souls of those he encounters.

Often considered a minor Fulci work set against his more popular “Zombie Flesh Eaters”, “The Beyond”, “City of the Living Dead”, and “The House by the Cemetery”, the Italian director’s 1981 version of the Poe story is a welcome and engaging release for fans of Fulci and certainly unfairly underrated.

The Black Cat Special Features:

Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker and Fangoria editor Chris Alexander.

Poe into Fulci: The Spirit of Perverseness – film historian Stephen Thrower on Fulci’s Poe-tinged classic.

In the Paw-Prints of the Black Cat – a look at the original Black Cat locations.

Frightened Dagmar – a brand new career interview with actress Dagmar Lassander.

At Home with David Warbeck – an archive interview with The Black Cat star.

Original Theatrical Trailer.

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin.

Sales info:

“Released in time for Halloween, Arrow Video is pleased to announce the special edition box set, Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cats: Two Adaptations by Sergio Martino & Lucio Fulci, featuring stunning new 2K transfers of two gothic, gory and totally original adaptations of Poe’s famous yarn The Black Cat from directors Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci.

Martino’s Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and Fulci’s The Black Cat will be housed together as part of this new box-set which is limited to a run of 3,000 copies in the UK and 3,000 copies in the US.

This new set will include a host of extras which are detailed below and include exclusive new interviews with Sergio Martino and actress Dagmar Lassander. This exciting new set will also include an 80-page booklet containing new articles on the films, Lucio Fulci’s last ever interview and a reprint of Poe’s original story. The set will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD on 19th October”.

-via Arrow Video

Special Features

Limited Edition boxed-set (3000 copies) containing Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and The Black Cat.

Brand new 2K restorations of the films from the original camera negatives.

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations.

Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays).

Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks.

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks.

Limited Edition 80-page booklet containing new articles on the films, Lucio Fulci’s last ever interview and a reprint of Poe’s original story.

Edgar Allen Poe’s Black Cats: Two Adaptations by Sergio Martino & Lucio Fulci” is available from:


This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s