Theatrical Release: August 8, 1990
DVD Release: March 31, 2009
Director: Lucio Fulci
Review by James Klein
The Italian Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci has had many of his films reviewed on this site. We have reviewed the blu ray’s of Zombi and House by the Cemetery and now I was given the honor to review what some argue as his last great film, A Cat in the Brain. Grindhouse Releasing has put out a pretty neat DVD filled with interviews, trailers, poster art, a booklet and…oh yes, the fully uncut version of this bizarre and truly disgusting horror film.
A Cat in the Brain is about an elderly director (played by Fulci himself, who is also called Lucio Fulci in the film) who has now directed numerous gore films and is considered to be a legend. But after doing so many films, the man is starting to lose his marbles. As he directs his newest movie, he starts to succumb into madness thinking he may be killing his female actresses. When an evil psycho-analyst hypnotizes Fulci into believing that he is a killer when in fact the killings are all done by the analyst himself, the story starts to get even more extreme. Women are cut apart, beheaded, stomped on, eyes plucked, and drowned (who some happen to be naked or wearing little clothing) Fulci tries to keep his sanity and continue directing his horror film while these murders happen all around him.
A Cat in the Brain plays out almost like a comedy. During certain scenes one can’t help but laugh. When the director attacks a camera crew and its female reporter because he believes they are Nazi’s, he is forced out of the room by a friend who makes him go back to apologize. While this is hilarious in itself, the female reporter tells him what a great interview it was! I especially liked the “movie within a movie” as a crazed husband sits in front of the T.V. eating a cooked piece of female flesh on his plate, making a few wise cracks to the T.V. while Fulci watches him on his monitor. When Fulci goes out to eat at a fancy restaurant, the maitre de recommends the fillet much to Fulci’s sickened expression. It’s obvious the film was partly a joke, an idea Fulci himself came up with to try something over the top and silly.
While A Cat in the Brain is fun to watch and will make some of you sickos laugh, the film isn’t one of his best efforts. Fulci was just starting to get sick at this time and his stylistic direction is not quite up to the standards as Zombi or The Beyond. Even the many gore efforts seem to have been rushed or done on a cheap level. I am unsure though if these gore effects were not meant to be cheap looking on purpose since most of the film takes place in this man’s brain. I still found them enjoyable and quite gross (his signature eye popping death is once again displayed here) and much better than any of those computer graphic gore effects they do now in most Hollywood films. While most Italian films have never really centered their attention on story and plot, you will find even less here. This movie just doesn’t make much sense. I am not sure if it was meant to either. While fans and critics compare Fulci’s film to 8 1/2 and Psycho, that to me is really stretching it. I get where Fulci was going with A Cat in the Brain but to compare this to either of those films is like saying a White Castle slider tastes just like a steak.
As I stated earlier, Grindhouse did a hell of a job in bringing fans a two disc DVD set. However, why does the picture look so grainy? I get that this is a “grindhouse” film but does it have to look this lousy? Colors seem to be washed out and the film is often murky during the evening scenes. I can see some fans possibly be turned off by the transfer but one should be happy to even have this strange film available and even uncut for that matter. Still, a remastering would have been nice. There are also a few Easter Eggs that can be found on both discs if you look carefully.
Strange. Confusing. Misogynistic. Disgusting. Enjoyable. Yep, that’s a Fulci film alright.