The first time I saw A Cat in the Brain was when Grindhouse originally released the movie on DVD. A friend of mine had it and despite having only seen one or two Fulci flicks I was eager to dive in. We both sat mouths agape at what we saw. Truly a spectacle to behold I only saw it that one time but certain scenes were burned into my brain. Fast forward to today and Grindhouse has upgraded their dvd to Blu. In the intervening years (probably at least 10), I have seen many more Fulci Flicks but this one still stands out.
A Cat in the Brain stars the man himself Lucio Fulci, as himself, Maestro Fulci. He’s working on a particularly nasty film with cannibalism and chainsaw dismemberment when he starts to become overwhelmed. Everywhere he goes he fantasizes about murdering people. He decides to go to a psychologist to try to get to the root of the problem. Little does he know that the psychologist is a psycho, and after watching all of Fulci’s films decides he wants to go on a killing spree and wants to set up Fulci as a fall guy. Fulci is haunted by his vivid dreams of murder and suspects that he might be the culprit in a series of real life murders. Not much of a synopsis but really that’s all the film is.
This flick is one wild ride for sure. It seems like less of a film as an excuse to pack in as much gore and sleaze as possible. When I first saw this film I thought that each vignette of exploitation was a reference to films Fulci had made in his career. Instead the movie recycles footage from films that Fulci directed previously mixed in with footage from other films that Fulci had some hand in creating whether it was producing, writing or even clandestinely directing. The differences in the stock are fairly obvious with the lifted scenes lacking the sharpness of image that the rest of the film has thanks to the great restoration job done on the film. We get lots of nudity usually followed by some of the most graphic and unrelenting murders Fulci (or the other directors) ever put to film. Sadly (for me) even a decade after seeing this film i have yet to see the films lifted for use in the movie (Touch of Death and Sodoma’s Ghost, and Massacre among others), so for me it was all new.
Even after seeing some of his more notorious films however, A Cat in the Brain stands out as possibly his most graphically violent film. There is very little story holding the whole film together but rather each scene is merely there to set up another gore fest or nude scene. It’s almost as if the film is an angry response to his stature in Italy. Fulci’s filmography is actually quite varied and he worked in nearly all genre of films, many of which were not particularly gory. At some point in the late 70’s he got pigeonholed into horror and never seemed to be able to escape. He was a film maker with great aspirations and great talent that by the end of the career was more often maligned then praised. His last films are angry ones and A Cat in the Brain is no different. It’s almost as if he said, so they think I’m just a gore guy huh? Well I’ll give them more gore then they can handle.
Again Grindhouse knocks it out of the park with this film. The true Cat in the Brain footage looks great, or at least as great as it can. At this stage of Italian cinema, budgets were very limited and so the film does lack atmosphere and the color palette is often has a washed out look. The set comes with a booklet with essays from Fulci’s daughter, Eli Roth, David Schow, and Martin Beine. We also get the soundtrack and a boat load of extras on a separate disc.
If you like Lucio Fulci and you love this flick, you will never get a better package than this, until Grindhouse re-releases it again in 10 years in whatever the new format is. Get on it.