Watch Me When I Kill (aka The Cat With The Jade Eyes/The Cat's Victims) Review

The Film

Antonio Bido's thrillers, perhaps unfairly, have gained a reputation for riding on the coat tails of more famous directors, principally Dario Argento. The Bloodstained Shadow includes elements that you might link to Aldo Lado's Who Saw Her Die and Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, and it is hard to sit through Bido's début without being constantly reminded of Dario Argento.
Bido admits to an admiration for those kinds of films now, but says that at the time he had not seen the movies he was accused of borrowing from. In Watch Me When I Kill this seems very hard to credit with a preponderance of stylistic touches which seem so similar to Argento's Profondo Rosso that the words "rip-off" come to mind. Bido claims that these touches came from his love of Hitchcock, clearly a shared influence with the Maestro, and visually that notion does hold water. His defence proves rather leaky though when considering the film's soundtrack and plot devices.

The plot of Watch Me When I Kill revolves around sound. The central character played by Corrado Pani is some kind of sound engineer/music producer, and the mystery that he pursues is one offered up by aural clues. His girlfriend gets him embroiled in a series of murders as she is present at the first one and mistakes the voice of the killer for that of the first victim. His next door neighbour further involves him in the plot by coming to him with a series of threatening tapes featuring aural collages that are sent by the murderer.
Additionally, the film relies upon music. One of the set piece murders is heightened by the use of classical music, Verdi's Dies Irae. The whole film is scored by Trans Europa Express in a style which is slavishly similar to Goblin's music for the previous year's Profondo Rosso, and also uses devices from the soundtrack to Suspiria released some six months before this film. Now it may be the case that the music was put together by the producers and that Bido was unaware of the similarities, but these coincidences are blindingly obvious.

There is also some similarity in the use of the Padua sequence to Argento's finest film. In Argento's film, David Hemmings had to enter an old house and at one point narrowly avoided a falling pane of glass, and Pani has the same experience here. In terms of story, the mystery of Profondo Rosso is a secret of the past and the killer plays sounds, in that case a nursery rhyme, to scare his victims before he strikes, and, well, the same elements appear here.

Watch Me When I Kill may use Argento's legacy extensively but, when compared with the great director, Bido's work has not survived the test of time anywhere near as well. Profondo Rosso is over 30 minutes longer, but the film never drags like Bido's début does and the murders and shocking images from both illustrate which director is the true artist. Bido's killings are nasty but sometimes unintentionally comic, and the supposed tension to build to the moment of death is not always convincing. His killer seems to dawdle en route and the bathtub murder, which is the best killing in the film, is too long and lacks the drive of Verdi's accompanying music.
Argento knock off or not, Watch Me When I Kill is quite inferior to Bido's other giallo, The Bloodstained Shadow(you can read Michael's review of by clicking the side panel). It is nowhere near the standards of Argento's gialli, yet it is enjoyable and if you can keep going through the poorly paced parts of the film you will have a good time with it. I am not entirely sure if I believe Bido's protestations that any homage is accidental, but his début movie will prove an interesting purchase for giallo fans.


Transfer and Sound

The director says that his choice to film on Gevaert color is the reason why existing prints of the film are so soft and degraded, and that explains why a lot of the previous DVD releases have been so poor. This Shameless presentation is probably an improvement on existing releases but it is still far from flawless. The opening 30 minutes seemed to me the weakest in terms of visual quality and there is evidence of edge enhancement, uncertain brightness levels and some aliasing during this section. Then quality improves for some quite lovely sequences within the films middle third with slight deterioration during the final part. The print has a fair few imperfections and detail away from the focus of the camera is often very soft. This is though a lot better than I remember my old VCI disc being.
The sound is presented in a mono track as it seems that the original stereo track is lost and again the quality is variable. During some sequences there is unquestionable depth to the audio, but there are incidents of bass distortion along with hum and hiss. Again this is some way on from the VCI disc.

Discs and Special Features

The recent emphasis that Shameless have placed on extras is continued here with a pleasing collection of trailers, titles sequences and an interview. Bido protests his innocence to the charge of ripping off Argento, and he is so likeable, humble and enthusiastic here that it's hard to believe him a cinematic thief. He also introduces the film before the main feature plays.

The American and international versions of the film yield different trailers and completely different title sequences. The American versions are shorter and play up the slash and stalk angle to sell the film.

The film is also accompanied by the fact track courtesy of the Wilson Brothers which will be useful to those unfamiliar with the film or the genre. The traditional Shameless trailer reel completes the package.

Summary

I believe this is an improvement on existing DVD releases but the video quality is not A1. The film is not that remarkable but it is an amiable distraction if you enjoy the genre.

Film
6 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 02/07/2018 07:28:44

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