Cat in the Brain (1990)
By: J.R. McNamara on May 12, 2009  | 
DVD
Grindhouse Releasing (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 1.0, Italian DD 1.0. English Subtitles. 93 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Lucio Fulci, David L. Thompson, Jeoffrey Kennedy
Screenplay: Lucio Fulci, John Fitzsimmons
Country: Italy
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Lucio Fulci's career covered many genres, but we horror lovers know him best for his so called Zombie trilogy and his giallos. Now I have to admit that Cat in the Brain, also known as Nightmare Concert , was not a film I was particularly familiar with. Sure I had heard of it in various magazines and books, and seen images in the same, but it had always eluded me. Its appearance on laserdisc had never crossed my path, and I had never seen it on videotape. Thankfully, our good pals at Grindhouse have restored and released this in a wonderful 2 disc version, full of the usual yummy extras the horror hungry exhume and consume.

Cat in the Brain tells of horror film director Dr Lucio Fulci (played by the good doctor himself) who is having a few psychological issues with his latest film. After filming a particularly gory scene, he finds consuming his lunch difficult, and later, when he retires for a nap, he finds it difficult to sleep as the gardener of the block he lives in is cutting wood with a chainsaw similar to the one used in the scene filmed earlier. Eventually he finds himself in the care of a psychiatrist, Professor Egon Schwarz (David L. Thompson) who realizes that he can use the director's mental illness for his own sick and perverted means. He programs Fulci to see horror everywhere, to the point that he can't tell what is real and what isn't anymore. The Professor in the meantime is killing young girls, and setting Fulci up so that it looks like he is the one committing the crimes, and as Fulci's madness becomes more apparent, will he eventually become the killer? Or is the entire course of events in his head?

Many claim that this is Fucli's version of Fellini's 8 ½ and even Fulci himself jokingly (?) claims it is his version of Eraserhead, but unfortunately I just saw it as an uneven hodge-podge that almost told a good story, but instead made it apparent that it was trying to say something else, but without really saying it. Now you can read all the notes and watch all the extras but at the end of the day I wanted an entertaining movie, and it was, just not up to the standard of The Beyond, or The New York Ripper, which are the standards by which I set Fulci. The uneven qualities of it don't just come from the story either, some of the footage used from other films (some of which weren't even directed by Fulci, so it is not a 'best of' clip-type movie) were pretty bad, even after the clean up Grindhouse performed on the disc.

Fulci does seem to be trying to say something about the ridiculousness of the 'seeing violence cause violence' concept, and he does expand upon that subject in the extras, but I just feel that without the supplementary material, the message isn't clear. I will say though, that if titties and gore are your thing, you can go wrong with Cat in the Brain.
Video
This is an anamorphic widescreen presentation, and is mostly clear, but does have the occasional film artifact here and there, which is mainly on the footage culled from other films, and not from what was actually filmed for this picture.
Audio
Cat in the Brain is presented in either a mono Italian or a mono English track. Subtitles are offered and the presentation, even though in mono, has no real problems at all.
Extra Features
As usual, Grindhouse have provided us with what can only be described as pants-swellingly wonderful extras.

Disc one presents both the original Italian and US trailers for the film; an animated stills gallery, which shows a whole pile of video covers and posters of Cat in the Brain; and archival footage of Fulci and his translator attending the 1996 Fangoria's weekend of horrors. This is a somewhat sub-average filmed affair, and the sound is of varying quality, though it does offer an interesting insight into Fulci's character.

Disc Two offered even more stuff for the Fulciphile.

There is an extensive interview section. The first sees two interviews with Fulci himself and is divided into two sections. The first is called 'Genre Terrorist', and Fulci proves himself to be an extraordinary proponent of Italian horror, slamming American filmmakers for their constant riffing of Italian horror and thriller films, and he discusses the state of the film business in general. The second is called 'The Television Years', where amongst other things he discusses editing films for TV, and just how shallow TV thrillers are in comparison to their cinematic counterparts. These interviews were filmed in 1995, almost 12 months before his untimely death (he was 68) and the interesting thing, over and above all else he discusses, he makes a quite prophetic comment about his impending final destination.

The next interview is with Brett Halsey and is titled 'Living La Dolche Vida' and it has Halsey go quite thoroughly through his career, commenting on various aspects of being a star both in Italy and his native America.

The are also a few selections from the DVD Paura – Lucio Fulci Revisited where the actors Jeffrey Kennedy (Gabrielli), Sacha Maria Darwin (Woman in the Oven) and Malissa Longo (Katya) discuss their experiences with the director.

As usual, Grindhouse offer their selection of trailers, which in my opinion, worth the price of admission alone. This time we have: Pieces, The Beyond, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, I Drink Your Blood, The Tough Ones, Massacre Mafia Style, Gone With The Pope, Scum of the Earth, An American Hippie in Israel, Death Game, Family Enforcer, Ice House (this one I gotta see!!!) and Mad Ron's Previews from Hell.

Also included in this superfly package is a 12 page booklet which has essays from different aspects of the 'Fulci' experience': the first is a look at what type of man Fulci was by his daughter Antonella Fulci, the second titled 'There's Always Room For More Giallo' is by author David J. Schow, who discusses the psychologies of Cat in the Brain, and its story ideas, and the last is by horror fan turned horror director Eli Roth, whose talks about his career, and how Fulci's ideas in Cat in the Brain can be prevalent in any entertainers psyche, and just how fleeting a director's unique vision can be. All three are interesting essays, and well worth reading, though I think Antonella Fulci's may have lost something in the translation.

Be aware as well that Grindhouse have been playing Easter Bunny on this disc, and several eggs can be found by the obsessed, myself being one of them. As of this writing I had found three of them, my favorite being one of Fulci attempting to discuss his films straight to camera, but is constantly interrupted by a ringing phone, and let me tell you, I have not seen a tantrum like this one outside of the lollie aisle in a supermarket.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Those good folks at Grindhouse have done it again. I doubt if anyone could name a company whose output has been of such a high quality. While I don't think that this film sits highly on my list of favorite Fulci films, it is treated with so much respect, and so much care has been taken with the entire release, that the package itself makes the film more emotionally valuable. Keep it up Grindhouse - we all wait in awe at your next release.

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