Cat In The Brain (1990)

Lucio Fulci is an institution, or should be in an institution. It is one or the other, I generally forget which. With such genre “classics” under his belt as Zombie Flesh Eaters, City Of The Living Dead and The New York Ripper, Fulci has become a legend of horror cinema if not an acquired taste.

This low-grade Italian gore picture (as if you were expecting anything else from Lucio) stars Fulci as a hammy, fictionalised version of himself driven insane by the day to day sight of death and gore, he starts to see scenes of horror where ever he goes. Clearly this is an excuse to recycle choice scenes from some of his older flicks and play it like a Fulci’s Greatest Hits.

The idea of a prolific horror director haunted by his back catalogue is an interesting one but Cat In The Brain fails on most counts. The acting is literally appalling with 90% of the screen time being swallowed by Fulci himself as he over-emotes his way through fantasy and reality, while the peripheral characters don’t really have an awful lot to do. It is as if they are only there to dress the sets up and to make sure Fulci doesn’t suffer alone. Beyond Fulci’s bearded face, there aren’t many faces you will recognise except for maybe Paola Cozzo, the doctors assistant who you may recognise from the infinitely better Italian flick, Demons.

Being Italian almost guarantees shoddy over dubbing and this film delivers that in spades. The dialogue is clunky and the delivery is all out of whack causing some lines to be unintentionally amusing. The gore is plentiful, but none of it original as it is all lifted from Fulci’s previous outings. Also the varying budgets of his back catalogue make the film look desperately uneven. That being said, the gore scenes are always satisfying due to the director’s deft hand and liberal splashing of the red stuff. There is even a truly excellent scene where a kid gets introduced to Fulci’s old friend, the chainsaw which I didn’t recognise from any other movie. So, possibly the only original bit of gore in the whole movie, and I ruined it for you.

The pacing is pretty awful, even with the gore coming thick and fast you will find yourself checking your watch or switching cheeks. I felt short changed by the swift wrap up of the plot after such a long journey getting there but the final twist is satisfying if not glaringly obvious.

It is really not an awful film, and the fact that the bulk of it is recycled may well be good for the environment, but it adds nothing to the genre. Sure it predates post-modern slasher flicks Scream by six years, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare by four, but any originality is sucked out of the plot by the use of footage anyone in a Fulci Lives t-shirt should have seen. If you can pick up this movie for pretty cheap, you shouldn’t be too disappointed.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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