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Film Review: The Black Cat (1981) - Lucio Fulci's Film Editing Analysis #1

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

#FilmReview #TheBlackCat #影評 #黑貓

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of THE BLACK CAT (1981 film). ©Selenia Cinematografica S.r.l.
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of THE BLACK CAT (1981 film). © Selenia Cinematografica S.r.l.

Dir. Lucio Fulci (1927-1996) was and still is the best horror genre filmmaker for his extremely realistic approach to the expression of 'splutter', 'giallo' violence and supernatural horrors during the late 1970s to early 1980s. His best film is the biggest international breakthrough Zombi2 (1979). Fulci was like Sergio Leone (1929-1989) an ex-Marxist in Italy who studied filmmaking. Their films have actual influences of Soviet films.

Fulci's Aesthetics: Torturing Realism and Art

Fulci's realism is the best among all horror films. He always sticked to reality. Some actors and critics asked him about his brutal torturing realism on acting and special make up, then he answered ''reality is necessary because it is art.'' Reality for art is core of his aesthetics, thus it is ridiculous to separate art and genre efforts.

Under NEP policy in cinema, Soviet enjoyed the various types of filmmaking during 1920s.What I have to do is to analysis and learn more useful creative achievements of their filmmaking. And apply it in our present filmmaking and related cultural activities. Soviet art tradition must continue. Today's Chinese blockbuster films followed and developed the Socialist Realism policy of Soviet Union. It correctly used the power of genre filmmaking under global capitalist environment for their Chinese socialist cause. Exploiting capitalist art achievements is a must.

One of great contributors to his film success was the remarkable screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti who had worked with Fulci since 1977 until 1983. Furthermore, the other one must be the film editor Vincenzo Tomassi (1937-1993) who had edited Lucio films since The Eroticist (1972) to Touch of Death (TVM, 1991). As a professional film editor, I shall analysis some important Fulci films.

The Black Cat (1981) Full Movie

Contemporary film editing is composed by cutting concepts such as Cut, Reverse Cut, POV, Reaction, Insert, Cutaway, Sound Cut, Screen Direction Match, Eyeline Match, Angle Match, Framing Match, Shape Match, Lighting and Colour Match, Action Match, Idea Match, Sound Match, Rope Match, Mismatch, Jump Cut, Crossing the Line, Bad Cut, Dissolve, Fade In and Fade Out, White Out, Black Out, Flash Frame, Superimposition, Wipe, Green Screen, Matte, Split Screen, Compressing Time, Smash Cut, Expanding Time, Stopping Time, Subjective Time, Flash Cut, Universal Time, Exposition, Flashback, Montage, Parallel Action, Cross Cut and Overlapping Action. Total 44 basic editorial concepts for filmmaking including TV programs, videos, CFs, PVs and MVs.

In The Black Cat (1981), Fulci used one camera for shooting, thus it is a good example of single camera editing in genre filmmaking. From the beginning, analyse some of typical Fulci touch and editorial concepts, then analyse the story structure. Fulci consciously used extreme close ups of eye moves, quick or slow zoom in and outs so many times than Sergio Leone. Eye expressions are key factors of Fulci's films.

The first victim walking from one of legendary English village house is shot by panning, and it follows his action on the street. (Fig.1) It is not a crane, Fulci used the tripod on the street. CUTs to POV handheld following shot of the black cat, it is also Cross Cut (time and space are the same; two or more action lines at the same time and space; it is noticeable with each other) to follow the movement, the joint is dealt with Screen Direction Match, and Action Match. (Fig.2) Fulci's continuity editing concept is prevailed. He is not the one who jumping around the cuts. You have to identify which editorial concept is the major dominant factor to do the edit.


In multi-camera