Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sexy Cat (1972)

Directed by:
Julio Pérez Tabernero

A dispute over ownership of a popular comic strip character fuels the murder spree in this bloody mystery. Martin Graham, who claims to be the author of Sexy Cat, a comic involving a masked murderess beloved by millions (sort of like a gory version of Catwoman), hires low-rent private eye Mike Cash (Germán Cobos) to get information that can help him win back the copyright of the character he claims to have created. Right after their meeting, someone sneaks into Graham's apartment and slashes his throat. Police Lieutenant Cole (Mariano Vidal Molina) is now on the case, but Cash decides to continue investigating on his own. He goes to a TV studio and meets the cast and crew of the upcoming Sexy Cat series, which is set to begin taping the following day. Greedy, sniveling producer Paul Karfas (Marques de Toro) promptly tries to pay him 10 thousand dollars so he'll go away but Cash refuses. Studio actress Marta Florence (Dyanik Zurakowska), who's set to co-star in the show, takes the detective's side and ends up getting killed when someone sneaks a poisonous snake into her apartment. Each of the murders matches one of the original comics ("Sexy Cat in The Venetian Dagger," "Sexy Cat in The Coral Snake" etc.) and the killer dresses in the Sexy Cat outfit (black leather cat suit with boots and gloves, a blonde wig and a mask) to do their dirty work.

The killer next visits Karfas' former secretary Carla, promptly karate chops her unconscious, ties her up and then asphyxiates her with a plastic bag. Whoever's doing the killing always seems one step ahead of poor Mike, and he ends up at the scene of the murders right after they occur. The list of suspects is ridiculously lengthy. Sugar Lane, who's sleeping with Paul and has secured the Sexy Cat role in the series, and Gail Crystal, another of Paul's former lovers ("a mixture of races without scruples") who's bitter about being tossed aside for the other actress and not above trying to pay the detective to implicate Paul in the killings are just two. There's also Mrs. Sheen, Paul's wealthy ex-wife, whose other husband had been mysteriously killed years earlier, leaving her to raise her wheelchair-bound son Malcolm with help from family friend Dr. Joe Kramer. Sexy adulteress Lacy St. James (Lone Fleming) might also fit the bill and the same goes for Velda Lynn, the original model for the Sexy Cat character, who might be angry that she didn't get to play the character in the TV version. Whoever it is looks good in a cat suit. During one sequence, the killer pops out of a closet brandishing razor sharp cat claws and makes a bloody mess out of a victim and the finale takes place in a junkyard where someone gets crushed by a piece of heavy machinery.

As much as I hate knocking something with a title as cool as Sexy Cat, some things just can't be avoided. There's the seed of a good film in here somewhere, but this isn't the way to go about it. The film is far too convoluted and the presence of so many suspects (many of whom get no development whatsoever and just one brief scene) really does the movie in. It probably doesn't help that I watched a heavily damaged print with horrible audio (taken from an ancient Greek VHS release), but that's sadly all that's available at this time. It was English-dubbed, runs just 75 minutes and appears to be cut. Shower scenes and such end abruptly; likely to remove any trace of nudity, though the gore seems to be intact. I guess Americans aren't the only ones who bask in the glory of violence and bloodshed but turn their noses up at bare breasts.

It's pretty colorful (something severely muted in the version I watched), the macabre comic drawings are fun and there's quite a bit of humor (including an extremely lame bit where a queeny dress designer comes to the station to report spotting the killer), but none of that changes the fact that it's poorly written and structured. Perhaps I'll give this one another shot if a better print (hopefully one that's uncut with the original audio) surfaces.

Director Tabernero also made VAMPIRES OF VOGEL (1974), which again starred Cobos and is just as rare as this one. Some sources also claim he made the Eurociné bomb CANNIBAL TERROR (1981) - probably the single worst jungle/cannibal movie - though the film is credited solely to Allan W. Steeve, an alias for Alain Deruelle.


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