• Cat In The Brain (88 Films)



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 26th, 2018.
    Director: Lucio Fulci
    Cast: Lucio Fulci, David L. Thompson, Brett Halsey
    Year: 1990

    The Movie:

    Lucio Fulci's Cat In The Brain (also known as Nightmare Concert) debuts on Blu-ray in North America in a re-mastered and completely uncut two-disc special edition with oodles of extra features. This really is a great package and even if the film doesn't rank with the best of the late director's pictures, it’s a twisted and fascinating picture in its own right.

    The plot isn’t particularly complex. In the film, Lucio Fulci plays himself, a director of horror and exploitation films. He seems to have become immune to the atrocities which he so blatantly displays on screen in his films. There’s cause for concern, however, because as of late old Lucio seems to be having trouble distinguishing between what is happening in his films with what is happening in real life. Things go from bad to worse as Fulci starts having hallucinations on the job and off, placing himself right in the heart of all the gory and sexually explicit action required in the types of films that he has directed. This prompts him to seek out the advice of a psychologist (David L. Thompson). Sounds like a good idea, right? But little does Fulci know, his psychiatrist is just as twisted upstairs as he is and he may or may not hypnotize poor Lucio into doing his evil bidding. Much carnage ensues.

    The film almost plays as a ‘Fucli's Greatest Hits' package as the loose fitting story is strung together between one gore or sex set piece to the next, albeit very tenuously. Lucio's performance is quite wooden and he spends most of his time wandering through the stages and sets of the production looking like a rabbit in headlights - though some might feel that that is part of the movie's charm. Somehow it works. When Fulci acts like a confused old man in the film, you buy him in the part. His lack of charisma gives things a sort of surreal tone, this is accentuated by the fact that he is dubbed not just in the English version but the Italian version as well. There’s clearly a satirical element to the film and Fulci’s sense of black humor comes through here quite often. But the gore is pretty malicious, which makes things a little confusing in terms of tone. Is it supposed to be a parody? Is it supposed to be a shocking gore film? It’s really a bit of both. It’s also a film that is easier to appreciate on repeat viewings, at least by this writer’s gauge. What at first seemed like a mean streak a mile wide running through the film no seems closer to making a point. If you want blood, you’ve got it. Is Fulci trying to tell us that giving his fans what he knows they want driving him over the edge? You could certainly read that into the film.

    Further, there are times where you almost get the impression that Fulci is making some sort of apology with the picture. As such, the director winds up painting himself in a very strange light indeed. The way he reacts to meat, the steak tartar put in front of him at a restaurant. The way he treats his crew, and the associations he makes to various sounds and sights throughout the film. All of this, on second or third viewing, would seem to be intended to show the audience both his insanity his regret. Given that he's playing this character as himself, as Lucio Fulci and not a fictional character, makes for a film ripe with symbolism and metaphor.

    The gore effects are done on a low budget (and some borrowed from other films – Touch Of Death, Sodoma’s Ghost and a few others). The sex scenes are trashy and exploitative. The pacing is wonky and the score is weird. Everything about the film is off… and at first viewing you might push back on this. You might find yourself, like I did, wondering what the point is. But the more time you spend with Cat In The Brain, the more it grows on you. Fulci’s work in front of the camera becomes more interesting, the humor in his performance and in the dialogue more obvious and more biting and the whole vibe a bit more playful, despite the fact that, yeah, it’s clearly malicious. This isn’t the man’s best film, not by a wide margin, but it’s certainly one of his more interesting. And hey, if you’re a gore hound, this’ll be right up your early because the film is loaded with some pretty great splatter effects.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    88 Films presents Cat In The Brain on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen that appears to mirror the North American release that came out in 2016 through Grindhouse Releasing (although the 88 Films transfer takes up 28GBs of space on the 50GB disc as opposed to Grindhouse’s at 23GBs). This was shot on 16mm and it’s a grainy beast of a film, but the increase in detail and clarity over older DVD releases is readily apparent right from the start. Some shots look better than others, the film has always looked this way due to the fact that it pulls from various sources, but overall this is solid. Close up shots look fantastic, colors are reproduced really nicely and black levels are good. The footage shot specifically for this film looks better than some of the inserted sequences, skin tones are lifelike and realistic and grainy or not, the image is pretty much free of actual damage.

    LPCM 2.0 tracks are provided in your choice of English or Italian with optional subtitles provided in English only. Again, we get a nice upgrade over previous DVD releases. Both tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced. Hiss and distortion are never a problem and the score sounds quite good. Sound effects and foley come through nice and clear but the dialogue stays consistently easy to understand and is never buried in the mix.

    The main extra on the disc is a forty-five-minute-long featurette entitled Brain Food: Analysing Late Date Fulci. This is made up of interviews with Cat In The Brain screenwriter Antonio Tentori, film critic Kim Newman, Dark Side magazine editor Allan Bryce (barf), critic Calum Waddell and Mikel J. Koven. While Tentori is able to add some historical context to the piece and share what it was like working with Fulci during this period of diminishing budgets and health problems, the others talk about the ups and downs of his later period films, the effects work featured in them, some of the actors that he worked with, some of the qualities – good and bad – of the stories he told and a fair bit more. This piece works as a sort of companion piece to the Aenigma: Fulci And The Eighties featurette that 88 Films included on their Aenigma Blu-ray.

    Also included here is footage of Fabio Frizzi and his band performing the main theme from Cat In The Brain live in Hollywood on October 2nd, 2015 for just under eight minutes. It’s interesting to see them do this in front of an audience, with some footage from Fulci’s films projected behind them. Frizzi clearly appreciates the enthusiasm and energy from the audience.

    The disc also contains the more recent Box Office Spectaculars North American theatrical trailer for the film as well as menus and chapter selection for the feature. Reversible cover art is included as is an insert booklet of liner notes from Waddell

    The Final Word:

    A truly odd film, even by Fulci standards, Grindhouse pulls out all the stops for their deluxe Blu-ray release of Cat In The Brain. 88 Films’ Region B encoded Blu-ray release presents the film for UK collector’s in an uncut edition with an interesting documentary about Fulci’s later-period career as its main supplement. If not all of the extras from the Grindhouse Blu-ray are here, the transfer quality is the same which makes this a good option for those in Europe that don’t want to import.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!