What’s the movie, you ask? Oh, it’s The Black Cat, also known as De Profundis, also known as Il gatto nero, also known as Demons 6, also known as Dead Eyes, also known as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Black Cat, even though it couldn’t have less to do with the actual Poe short story. If you, upon learning that this film has so many different titles, suspect that it might suck mightily, you’d be right: It’s not a good film. I’ve watched it anyway. And while I have a bit to say about it — among other things, “Holy shit, what the fuck was that?” — I’m going to do a favor for everyone and just show you the best the movie has to offer in stills. Occasionally, this film stumbles into a pleasing composition, and that’s all mostly a result of ripping off Dario Argento, so at the very least you can’t say it’s not colorful to look at.
Trust me, it’s a lot better than actually watching the movie, even passively, and you’ll follow the plot about as closely as I did.
The weird thing is that I can’t now even remember how I heard about this movie now. But somehow, I ended up reading about the actress Caroline Munro, the brunette actress who looks and dresses like Kristen Wiig doing an impression of Lisa Vanderpump and whose every scene in this movie looks not only out of place but actually spliced in from a Skinemax softcore. And I only expressed even a passing interest in this movie because I’d read that it functioned as some kind of unofficial sequel to Dario Argento’s Suspiria, one of my favorite movies. Netflix had it streaming, and I said “What the hell? I don’t feel like hearing myself think tonight.”
It’s not an unofficial sequel to Suspiria. It actually mentions Suspiria by name and features chunks of its soundtrack. Instead, De Profundis or whatever you want to call it centers around the production a film that would theoretically complete the trilogy that Argento began with Suspiria, continued with Inferno and then left idle until 2007. This movie hit theaters back in 1989, believe it or not. Would you have guessed this by the overall look of it? No, of course you wouldn’t have. I guess this proves that Italy didn’t yet have the late ‘80s in 1989 and so it instead rocked that fuzzy, late 70s-early 80s vibe. The especially strange part about De Profundis is that it doesn’t even complete the trilogy. In the source material that inspired Argento to make the trilogy in the first place, Thomas de Quincey wrote about the Three Mothers — Mater Suspiriorum, the “mother of sighs” who serves as the big bad in Suspiria; Mater Tenebrarum, the “mother of darkness” and the big bad in Inferno; and Mater Lachrymarum, the “mother of tears” and the big bad in long-delayed final part, The Third Mother. This movie, however, concerned a different entity that de Quincey mentioned in the same essay. But whatever. That hardly seems like a flaw in a movie that so bravely struggles against coherence.
So what was this movie actually about? I don’t know. A witch or something? Who was Sarah supposed to be, again?