61 Days of Halloween: Cat in the Brain

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it. Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now. Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Cat in the Brain

This review does pertain to the DVD edition of the film.

Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain is a must-have for any fan of giallo or Italian horror in general. And for all those enthusiasts, I have no tolerance for Fulci vs. Argento arguments – you can’t have one without the other, and talks of rivalry between the two are greatly exaggerated. Also give this film a chance and don’t dismiss it merely because it is “late Fulci.” Lucio Fulci himself stars in this film, and like most directors he is not mistaken when placing himself in this role, as Fulci plays himself he creates an interesting little bit of simulacrum while also turning the typical giallo formula on its ear. The premise is simple… Fulci is getting paranoid having visions of gruesome murder scenes he has filmed both in his current film and in the past. The film cleverly uses clips from Fulci-directed films such as Touch of Death and The Ghosts of Sodom to be both Fulci’s delusions and the blueprint for the killer framing him. Fulci ultimately thinks he’s the culprit when tricked by his therapist while under hypnosis. This is where the twist occurs and the formula is turned upsidedown. Usually the killer’s identity is a mystery to the protagonist and the audience. Here the protagonist thinks he’s guilty and the audience knows who is at fault. And the twist at the end is quite effective, as the film blurs the line between memory and reality and film and reality throughout. The best thing about this film it is that it lives almost entirely in the head of the protagonist who is so stressed he is constantly delusional. That allows for probably more splatter-filled moments than any Fulci film ever made. Many Italian horror or giallo film’s titles are based on minor plot points or metaphors. This one is actually more fitting than many after an opening shot and a mention in dialogue later. For those unfamiliar with the genre this may be the best introduction to the way Italians like to do things and considering the “clip show” approach if you don’t like Fulci after this you never will. The DVD is loaded with bonus features and includes the original Italian audio track with subtitles which makes a huge difference in the quality of the film, as dubbing helps to ruin so many films. 7/10

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