Friday, July 22, 2016

CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990) THREE-DISC LIMITED EDITION BD/CD (Blu-ray Review)

CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990) 
THREE-DISC LIMITED EDITION BD/CD 


Label: Grindhouse Releasing
Region: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 
Audio: English and Italian DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Lucio Fulci, 
Cast: Lucio Fulci, David L. Thompson, Malisa Longo, Jeoffrey Kennedy, Brett Halsey


Synopsis: Acclaimed Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci, director of ZOMBIE and THE BEYOND , stars in this blood-soaked epic as a director being driven insane by his own movies. Fulci is thrust into an ultra-violent nightmare of death and depravity where murder and madness consume his sanity in a vortex of violence. 

I love the opening of Lucio Fulci's psycho-gore shocker Cat In The Brain (AKA Nightmare Concert) with director Lucio Fulci playing a version of himself, an aging horror director plagued by the grisly visions of his own horror movies, which is visualized by a cat eating away at his brain while he types away on typewriter, a striking and somewhat comically disturbng image which sets the tone for this wildly uneven but fun slice of self-aware horror from the Italian master of gore. 

As stated Fulci plays a fictionalized version of himself, years of making horrific movies have taken a toll on his psyche with the walls between what is real and what is a movie breaking down for the poor guy. Fulci's unsure of what is real and what is coming from his own imagination, to that end he begins to see a psychiatrist (David L. Thompson), a weird sort of doc who tells the director that he's having a mental crisis of some sort, brought on by years of macabre imagery. Unbeknownst to Fulci the doc is up to no good, and begins murdering a series of young women around the area, all the while trying to pin it on the increasingly discombobulated Fulci, who begins to believe that he has committed the murders with no memory of having done it. 

The movie is comprised of various recycled bits from previous Lucio Fulci productions, notably the movie Touch of Death starring Brett Halsey as a murderous creep/cannibal. I remember when I first watched Cat In The Brain years ago, I only had a few of Fulci's more popular movies under my belt at the time and I sort of hated it, sure it had loads of gore and nudity, but the patchwork of scenes and newly shot connective tissue felt forced and poorly assembled. Watching it now I can appreciate the movie a bit more, I see what Fulci was going for with some commentary on movie violence and what if any ill effect these images might have on viewers, including the director himself. It possibly also acts as a commentary of Fulci's own career and how he was received by critics, but it still feels rough and slapdash to me. In my mind Cat In The Brain is lower tier in the Fulci canon but it is also a fun gore movie loaded with non-stop gore and nudity, though most of it culled from other movies... and were not talking about his more polished efforts, he's not pulling clips from The Beyond, The Psychic or Zombie, this is his late era stuff, movies that were cash-strapped and low-budget. The movie serves as a sort of late era highlight reel of his career, one that is loaded with low-budget gore and nudity, which is always fun, regardless of how I feel about the movie as whole. 

I love the post-modern approach Fulci employed with Cat In The Brain, beating Wes Craven to the ironic-horror punch by a few years, but it is choppy, cheap and uniformly poorly acted. Fulci knows his way around a camera but he's not so great in front of one, but there is something charming about this movie, the way that Fulci turned the camera round on himself, and on that level I had a lot of fun revisiting this one, which is primed with some sweet cheap gore including cannibalism, chainsaw massacres, beheadings, hammers to the skull and much much more. 

Audio/Video: The Grindhouse Releasing two-disc Blu-ray edition of Cat In The Brain presents the movie uncut with a new HD restoration framed in widescreen 1.66 and it look the best it has ever looked on home video. The movie is piece meal by design, borrowing lengthy scenes from various sources and stitched together via some new 16mm shot footage that very loosely brings it all together. As expected the varying sources make for an uneven viewing experience with varying degrees of grain and clarity, overall the end product is very watchable and benefits from a more natural grain field and some improved clarity, the source material itself looks nice with very few blemishes of any kind aside from some white speckling.

Audio options include viewer's choice of Italian or English DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono with optional English subtitles. The track is clean and free of hiss, considering the varying sources the audio does not fluctuate too noticeably from scene to scene. The mix of Fabio Frizzi score, dialogue and horrific sound effects are nicely balanced. 

Disc one is set aside for the uncut version of the movie, the only advertised extras on the first disc are the American and Italian trailers for the film, plus there is an Easter Egg tucked away of Luci Fulci signing at a table for fans, which I presume to be from 1996 NYC Fangoria Weekend of Horrors. 

Onto disc two, which is also a Blu-ray, Grindhouse have stuffed it with a smorgasbord of Fulco goodies, including new interviews with composer Fabio Frizzi, screenwriter Antonio Tentori, cinematographer Sandro Grossi and poster artist Enzo Sciotti. Each is fascinating, I particularly loved the interviews with poster artist Enzo Sciotti who shows off some of his early sketches for his posters, plus a few of his classic finished pieces, the interview ends with him painting the skull from the Evil Dead 2 poster he did All the new interviews are in Italian with the exception of composer Fabio Frizzi who speaks at length about his work scoring film for Lucio Fulci. Fans of Frizzi will enjoy the eight-minute Frizzi footage of the composer performing the main theme for Cat In The Brain.  

Fulci is well represented during two interviews, one a radio interview from 1987 and the other is a video interviews tat has been split into two forty-minute segments, once covering his work for television and the other about his work in the horror and thriller genres. 

Finishing up the bonus content on disc two we have a five minute appreciation from actors Jeoffrey Kennedy, Sacha Maria Darwin, and Malisa Longo, a poster and still gallery and footage from Fulci's Q+A at the 1996 NYC Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, which was his only horror convention appearance in the US..Tucked away within the filmographies are trailers for The Beyond (1981), Silver Saddle (1978), Magistrate (1967), Roy Colt and Winchester Jack, Return of the Fly (1959), Hot Rod Rumble (1957), plus a series of outtakes from the Brett Halsey interview discussing his movies Beatrice Cenzi and Esmeralda Bay. There's also a trailer reel of Grindhouse releasing trailers for The Beyond, Pieces, Pigs, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, The Tough Ones, Massacre Mafia Style, Gone With The Pope, Scum Of The Earth, An American Hippie In Israel, Corruption, The Swimmer, The Big Gundown and I Drink Your Blood. 

This three disc set also includes a bonus CD containing the original score from Fabio Frizzi plus a live version of the main theme from 2015 recorded during the Frizzi and Fulci tour stop in L.A. from 2015. The disc comes housed in its own cardboard slipcase   Packaging extras include a few goodies that are limited to the first 3000 copies including a embossed glow-in-the-dark slipcover, which is pretty cool! This may not be one of my favorite Fulco movies but I love the Enzo Sciotti artwork for it. Also limited to just 3000 is a mini postcard sized portrait of Lucio Fulci. Also included is a 20 Page Booklet with liner notes by Fulci's daughter Antonella Fulci, David J. Schow, director Eli Roth and a fascinating piece by Martin Beine who details the recycled movies that Fulci pulled from to create Cat In The Brain. The booklet is chock-full of awesome, including poster artwork and stills from the movie, plus there is a sleeve of reversible artwork housed in a Criterion-style clear case. . 

Disc 1
- HD digital restoration of the original UNCENSORED DIRECTOR'S CUT
- Presented with English and original Italian language soundtracks

- Italian Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- U.S. Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- Easter Egg: Lucio Fulco table signing at 1996 NYC Fangoria Weekend of Horrors (4 Mins) 

Disc 2
- Have a Nice Vacation, Doctor Fulci! - Interview with screenwriter Antonio Tentori (27 Mins) HD 
- A Nightmare in the Brain - Interview with cinematographer Sandro Grossi (28 Mins) HD 
- Frizzi and Fulci - Interview with composer Fabio Frizzi (31 Mins) HD 
- Fabio Frizzi Live in Hollywood October 2nd 2015 (8 Mins) HD 
- Painter of Nightmares - Interview with  poster artist Enzo Sciotti (18 Mins) HD 
- Antonio Tentori Interviews Lucio Fulci - 1987 Radio Broadcast (16 Mins) HD 
- Lucio Fulci Interview Rome, July 27th 1995 - The Television Years (41 Mins), Genre Terrorist (40 MIns) 
- Interview with Breti Halsey - Living La Dolce Vita (46 Mins) 
- Memories of Fulci with actors Jeoffrey Kennedy, Sacha Maria Darwin, and Malisa Longo (5 Mins) 
- Gallery of Stills and Poster Art, plus Lucio Fulci's heroic appearance at the 1996 NYC Fangoria Weekend of Horrors (24 Mins) 
- Lucio Fulci and Brett Halset Bios and Filmographies
- Grindhouse releasing Trailers (34 Mins) HD 
- Easter Egg: Luci Fulci Video Interview Outtakes (2 Mins) 
- Easter Egg: Brett Halsey Video Interview Outtake (1 Mins) 

Disc 3
Bonus CD: The original soundtrack by composer Fabio Frizzi (15 Tracks) 

Packaging Extras 
- 20 Page Booklet with Liner notes by Antonella Fulci, David J. Schow, Eli Roth and Martin Beine
- Chilling GLOW-IN-THE-DARK slip cover - Limited to first 3000 copies
- Mini portrait of Lucio Fulci - suitable for framing - Limited to first 3000 copies

Another gorgeous and definitive slice of gore cinema from Grindhouse Releasing, one that any self-respecting cult cinema sicko will absolutely want to have in their collection. Cat In The Brain is not among my most loved of Fulci's filmography but this sweet three-disc edition is jam-packed with more cool extras than any self-respecting Fulci fan can live without, yet another must-own release from Grindhouse Releasing!

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