A man is sliced with a razor and dumped in an underground cavern for the rats to feast on. The only witness is a ginger cat. Shortly after that Corringa (Jan Birkin) arrives from school to see her mother, Lady Alicia (Dana Ghia) who is staying at the ancient family estate Dragonstone Castle in the highlands of Scotland. Lady Alicia’s sister Lady Mary MacGrieff (Francoise Christophe) resides in the old castle with her son Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller).
At dinner Corringa meets other members of the household, Lady Mary’s lover, Dr. Franz (Anton Diffring) and James’ French tutor Suzanne (Doris Kunstmann). Also at dinner is the new local priest, Father Robertson (Venantino Venantini) and the area’s older priest (Franco Ressel). James makes an appearance at dinner and insults everyone there. The party breaks up.
Later that night Corringa’s mother is suffocated. The only witness is the ginger cat. Lady Mary convinces Dr. Franz to declare Alicia’s death natural causes. While Alicia’s casket is being put in the family crypt the ginger cat jumps onto the casket. A bad sign according to legend. Lady Mary tells the caretaker, Angus (Luciano Pigozzi), to put the cat in the crypt. He does as he’s told but he comes back later that night to let it loose. Angus is slashed to death with a razor. The only witness is the ginger cat.
Corringa found a secret passage in her room and followed it to a labyrinth of passages. She finds the body of the man being eaten by rats. When she finally manages to escape the corridors no one believes her. No one knows who is doing the killing but everyone suspects James. Lady Mary tells everyone that James is insane and that he killed his baby sister.
Corringa also learns that Suzanne was actually a prostitute hired to seduce James as part of some Freudian cure cooked up by Dr. Franz but he isn’t interested in her. Instead she is having an affair with Franz but Suzanne is more interested in Corringa. James keeps a pet gorilla in a cage, that is also named James, that someone let out so maybe he was involved somehow. James and Corringa end up getting closer as murders keep happening around them and with each murder the ginger cat is there to witness it.
“Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eyes” AKA “La morte negli occhi del gatto” was released in 1973 and was directed by Antonio Margheriti. It is a horror mystery thriller and an Italian, French and West German co-production giallo.
The film plays more like a gothic horror film than your standard giallo. As an Italian/French/West German film that takes place in Scotland it can be a little confusing at times. The cast is also international and many are dubbed depending on what country it is being released in. The only ones with anything near a Scottish accent are the two servants.
The incongruity of everything is not enough to ruin the film it’s just something hanging around in the background. The film is a decent horror-esque film with lots of the standard gothic tropes that could even be compared to a Hammer style gothic film. The creepy castle, cemetery and secret passages check a lot of the boxes. Toss in a gorilla and you’ve managed to cover a lot of genres. As for the giallo part, they managed to get a number and an animal in the title so it must be giallo.
It may be a strange film but it was fun. I really enjoyed trying to find out who the real killer was.