Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shadow of the Cat (1961)

Dir: John Gilling

Although the name doesn't officially appear in the credits, this is usually cited as a Hammer Films production. The cast includes Hammer regulars Barbara Shelley and Andre Morell, the crew includes several familiar Hammer names, and it was shot at Bray studios. The film itself though does not have the feeling of the studios output at the time and certainly doesn't measure up to Gilling's other horror efforts of the time. George Baxt's script borrows heavily from Edgar Allan Poe without giving him any credit. It's about a man (Morell) who doesn't care too much for his wife and talks the servants into killing her and hiding the body. They plan to pass off a new will leaving everything to him, to the authorities so he can cut out his wife's favorite niece (the Shelley character). Problems arise when the murder is witnessed by the woman's cat who then begins to torture everyone involved by clawing them, terrorizing from the shadows, just generally acting like a jerk. Morell then calls in some shady relatives to help him dispose of the cat alas, to no avail. It's fairly easy to guess what happens from there but Gilling does a fine job of pulling out some tension when necessary. Unfortunately, there are some moments of lightheartedness that stand out in a bad way. Frankly I felt the film was more tolerable without the Hammer logo as I would have expected more.
The print on this DVDr is washed out and has several moments where it looks damaged. It's still easy to tell what's happening but no one would mistake this for an official release. A station identification call number pops up a few times in the corner from what looks to be a regional channel in North Carolina (maybe?).
Thanks to Colin for sending this my way.


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