Death By Cinema – Day 6 – The Fat, Black Pussy-Cat

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…

Britt

Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 6 – The Fat, Black Pussy-Cat

This is the tale of five wanton women and… the fat… black… pussycat. The black cat could eat no fat, it’s mate could eat no lean. Betwixt the two… they licked the bloody body clean. So begins one of my favorite film trailers. The trailer itself evokes a sense of sex, mystery, and horror which it never actually physically touches on. It never reveals the true plot of the film and for years, I had no idea what this movie was about, I just knew, based on the trailer, I wanted to see it. Here’s the sad thing though. I first saw this trailer about 10 years ago (maybe more). I actually found the DVD later that year. This will be my first viewing of the film. I know I should have gotten to this sooner, but time flies. One more thing I’ll say about the film, apparently, it wasn’t a success when it was first released, so they shot some knew scenes, which almost entirely changed the plot from a murder mystery, to a murder mystery with a psychic cat and insanity. Now, it still wasn’t a success after this and, in fact, the plot change apparently messed with continuity quite a bit, but I’m willing to give the insane version a go. I’ll also try and comment on the alternate, “original” ending.

EDIT: This review features spoilers and I only say that because I actually really like the ending of this film and would like it if people checked it out without me spoiling it for them. So, if you can, see the film, then read this review. However, if you don’t think you’re ever going to see the film, read on, MacDuff.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
We open on a nude woman crawling for help and dying. Considering this opening hook takes all of about 10 seconds, it’s actually pretty effective.
Part of the film takes place at the formerly real beatnik cafe The Fat Black Pussycat Cafe. Now it’s a Mexican restaurant according to the liner notes. Sunrise, sunset.
You know, some of the dialogue isn’t bad. I mean, it’s not Oscar worthy or anything, but it’s okay for an exploitation film.
The sound however, is bad, at least in the initial interrogation scene. It’s often hard to hear the decent dialogue.
The music, which is this beatnik-y, folky, Greek sounding stuff it pretty listenable.
Actual line: “I hear she got attacked by a sex fiend. Ain’t that a laugh?”
They see a live snake on the floor of the party and… they just leave it laying? In the middle of a party? Where anyone can step on it?
That dude that just got tossed over the balcony is the beatnik-est looking dude ever. Long chin beard and shades and all. BTW, the murders were fairly well done. Tossing a dude off a balcony, then stabbing the other girl worked very realistically. Unfortunately, when falling, it’s clear they used mannequins for the effect.
Here’s one continuity or maybe just logic error. The initial victim was found naked in the alley. Yet, everyone thought it was weird her shoes were missing. Well, whatever, they just found the shoes.
Actual dialogue: Detective: “Are you sure they’re her shoes?” Girl: “No, who looks at shoes?” Girls do. Girls look at shoes.
A girl just pushed the detective and he flew halfway across the apartment. I had no clue we were dealing with She-Hulk over here.
There’s an old school cat burglar feel to the killer (heh, CAT burglar). We hear mysterious music and the sound of his heavy breathing, but all we’ve seen of him are his hands and feet. It’s a cool bit of cinematography, though I could do with a lot less off that heavy breathing. We get a painstaking look of the killer putting a bomb in a briefcase.
So, the titular cat has been skulking around the murder scenes appears to be owned by the Chief of Detectives. What a coincidence.
Man, that is some bad beatnik poetry. Which means it’s just beatnik poetry.
The other detective goes up on stage and has to read his own poetry. He reads from a police safety manual, adding the word “man” to the end of every sentence. The beatnik love him and his poetry, of course.
The police commissioner is making out with a couple beatniks in the same bar as the two detectives. At least, he’s supposed to be, but the set looks entirely different, like it’s supposed to be in somebody’s kitchen.
Actual dialogue after a poisoning: Detective: “Which table waiter brought this beer?” “Table waiter? Man, you must be from Uptownsville. We don’t have no table waiters, we’re happy we have tables.”
Ahhhhh, really awkward jump cut!
This funky jazz song in this bar scene is awesome!
Actual dialogue: Reporter: “Within the last 24 hours there have been no less than FOUR murders. Three by violence of the most sordid kind, and one by poison. Dignified, but nevertheless, just as deadly.” How the hell is poison dignified?
This professor girl plays a drunk really badly.
The grad student’s description of beatniks could just as easily be a description of beatniks could just as easily be true of hipsters today and is eerily accurate, “young phonies.”
And, she’s murdered out of nowhere. I knew from the set up the killer was going to kill the young blonde in the apartment, but this was a shock. The shot of the dead blonde reminds me of a more bloody shot of Janet Leigh dying in Psycho.
The professor shows a filmstrip of an African tribe, whom she somehow equates to the Beatnik culture. Man, I’m typing the word Beatnik a lot.
So far, I still don’t know how the cat fits in. The cat just goes from murder to murder is never caught. The chief of detectives even wonders where the cat is, while petting his cat, the cat who is the cat who goes to all the cat murders! What’s going on?!?
I don’t think this movie knows how homosexuality works. It’s saying in a schizophrenic state, a persons sexual preferences can change. Can someone call up a real psych professor? Does that check out?
Actual dialogue: Psych Professor: “Subject starts to change from normal to schizophrenic. He makes brainwaves. Cat responds to what we call extra sensory perception because of previous conditioning. Human blood was present! And enjoyed. Brainwaves. Cat. Murder. Find the cat. Catch the killer.” The professor then breaks the fourth wall. Who got paid for writing that bunch of crap? He also imply that for all they know, it could be that cat in their hands. It is, you jackassing morons!
The bell on that cat’s neck is really annoying.
Actual dialogue: Beatnik in the most beatnik sounding voice: “That’s for the threads, but when do I get out of this cooler. My head feels like it’s about to fall off of my shoulders. You know that was no powder puff I was hit with last night. First I get hit in the head, then I wake up in a precinct bed.”
God, this beatnik kid just speaks in nothing but beatnik cliches. “Once the hand was writ, all the sands of time could not change a word of it.” This kid sounds like a bad Dylan song. In fact, he looks suspiciously like a young Bob Dylan… hmmm…
Two guys steal the briefcase bomb from Dave the detective and handle it like they’re doing lateral passes in football. One opens it and bye, bye, thief.
Actual dialogue: Reporter again: “Congratulations to the commissioner of police and his department. In the last 24 hours there have only been THREE murders. It is presumed that these are psycho killings and most of the victims are females. The bombing and poisoning were obvious attempts to mislead or destroy the police who are assigned to this case.” Seriously, every scene with this guy is just exposition and bad exposition at that. He then implies that there might be two killers.
That was one of the better analogies to conventional Puritanistic values and rebuff of advances I’ve ever heard or expected from this film.
And of course, it only takes Dave the detective saving her to destroy her reasoning and get her into bed.
Well, they’ve named the killer (more than likely). His name is Brom. That’s a stupid name, but what’s not stupid is that, we have seen the killer, but he was a background character. So he was there all along, but we overlooked him. That’s actually somewhat brilliant.
I didn’t know there was a stereotypical gay beatnik voice until I saw that stereotypical gay beatnik.
Yup, that’s what a psycho’s lair looks like. They did a good job of that.
Well, Dave the Detective got stabbed. So he’s dead. Pointlessly.
There is some bad editing in this final chase, mostly because they keep cutting between the police dispatcher and the chase. The dispatcher is not needed.
Brom finally gets some on screen acting and… he’s not bad for the five seconds he’s there before he kills one more girl (man, these cops can’t save shit) and gets mowed down by a hail of bullets. He’s definitely better than some of the stone faced cop actors.
Wow, that is some wooden acting from one of the lead female professor’s students at the end of the film. And now they’re implying that the professor is a lesbian? Where does that come from… OHHHHHHHH! The Professor is the other killer! Dude… that is goddamn brilliant because they set it up at the halfway point and then never brought it up again. I freaking love that twist! Now The Professor is getting dressed in the black outfit and here comes the cat! The cat allows for the girl to escape while the detectives gun down the professor. Goddamn, I love that ending!
They wrap it up at the end with the chief talking to the reporter with his fat black pussycat (BTW, you can totally see the cat’s asshole in like half of the shots). Apparently Brom, only killed the last two victims. He had nothing to do with the rest of the murders, it was all that nutty professor chick. The professor’s name is Janet BTW. This last little bit is all exposition, but it reminds me of the psychologist at the end of Psycho. Exposition without conflict, but it’s somewhat needed to tie up the plot holes.
They pull out of the TV set on which the interview is playing and… a black gloved hand turns off the set? Is Janet the Professor still alive? Was she the only killer? Were there more? Dun, dun, dun.
I just watched the alternate, original ending they used before this one and it ends with Dave hunting down some random guy who turns out to be the killer in an old west amusement park. We never see this guy before, he just turn out to be the killer and is crazy. Dave catches him and survives. Boy, I’m glad they redid that ending.

Ok, so this movie features so bad editing, dialogue that switches from moderately good to absurdly stilted, bad continuity errors because of the new scenes, and some unusual acting choices. However, I still really enjoyed it. I think the opening scenes (say the first 20-25 minutes) are strong for a low level exploitation film and the ending… my God, the ending was sublime. Not only is the ending a swerve, it’s a double swerve and it makes at least a modicum of sense! We think it’s one guy who was in the background of some of the shots, which would have been fine, but then through the use the cat (I’ll get to it in a second), we get the double swerve that the killer we were chasing was the lead female all along. And they drop little hints throughout. The first time we see Janet, she throws Dave a distance for bumping into her, implying she’s currently in a state of mind repellant to the touch of a man. When she’s “attacked” we never see the killer’s hands or feet. We wouldn’t because she is the killer, but it’s unusual because we’re used to seeing it in every other scene the killer is in. And the killer appears after she rebuffs Dave’s advances, implying she’s slipping in and out of her schizophrenic homosexuality (I’m still not convinced that’s a thing, but whatever). And after he “saves” her, they make love. This ending reminds me a lot of Psycho. Now don’t get me wrong, Psycho is by far a better film, but for an exploitation film to downright surprise and shock me is very rare. For me to be happily surprised or shocked by an exploitation film is even more rare and it pleases me when I’m happily surprised.

I liked the use of the cat as well. It’s the same with the twist on the killer, I didn’t think it was engaging or served a real purpose… until the end when it absolutely did.

I want to give this movie a high recommendation. It’s slow in the middle, disastrously slow, and is full of mistakes and cringeworthy moments, but has a satisfying ending and an overall good story. If it weren’t for the ending, I’d give the film a C- or C, but the ending brings up the grade to a B+ or A-. So, I’ll finish this review with the final lines from the awesome trailer. Now really, is there any reason on earth why you can’t see The Fat… Black… Pussycat? Meow. :3

Tomorrow, Tombs of the Blind Dead!

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