THE CAT O’NINE TAILS
IL GATTO A NOVE CODE
1971, AGFA, 112 min, Italy/France/West Germany, Dir: Dario Argento

This second entry in Dario Argento’s “Animal Trilogy” found the young talent further refining his distinctive style and cementing his reputation as master of the giallo. When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, a blind puzzle-maker (Karl Malden) overhears an attempt to blackmail an institute scientist shortly before the robbery; he teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo (James Franciscus) to crack the case. Soon the bodies pile up, and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives at risk. Worse still, the puzzle-maker’s niece (Cinzia De Carolis) is in the killer’s sights. Featuring another nerve-jangling score by the great Ennio Morricone, THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS remains one of Argento’s most suspenseful and underrated films.


THE VALLEY OF GWANGI
1969, Warner Bros., 96 min, USA, Dir: James O’Connolly

One of Ray Harryhausen’s most rarely screened gems, GWANGI stars James Franciscus as a brash young cowboy who stumbles across a hidden valley teaming with prehistoric life. Trouble ensues when Franciscus captures one of the lost dinosaurs and tries to exhibit it in a traveling circus. Co-starring Richard Carlson, Gila Golan, Laurence Naismith.


BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
1970, 20th Century Fox, 94 min, USA, Dir: Ted Post

Three years before he directed the most somber of the DIRTY HARRY sequels, MAGNUM FORCE, reliable craftsman Ted Post took a similar approach to the second - and scariest - entry in the PLANET OF THE APES franchise. Astronaut Brent (James Franciscus), on a rescue mission looking for Taylor (Charlton Heston), finds himself caught between apes determined to wipe out humanity and a subterranean cult of H-bomb-worshipping mutants. It’s a premise that leaves little room for hope, but Post energizes the material with riveting action sequences. The result is an underrated combination of stylish adventure and bleak philosophy that seems timelier than ever in its examination of man’s terrifying potential for self-annihilation. Co-starring Kim Hunter, Linda Harrison, Maurice Evans.


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