Cat in the Brain

Cat in the Brain

Let me start by saying 'I'm in shock'…when rising UK genre DVD producers Hard Gore/Screen Entertainment informed me that they had just licensed Lucio Fulci's 'Cat in the Brain' (aka 'Nightmare Concert') for release on DVD in the UK I was bewildered. Had they not known that only a few years back the folk at Tartan had submitted the film to the British Film Censors only to have it not only rejected outright but feelings were so strong on the movie that the BBFC felt the need to issue a press statement explaining just why they could not give the film a rating as they found the film so offensive and would be a waste of time for them to go frenzied with their censoring scissors! But no, Hard Gore went ahead and picked up the film and submitted it to the BBFC for their judgement. Needless to say the horror fan community sat back awaiting for the expected death knell yet again but wait, something so off kilter it's almost unbelievable happened…they passed the film completely uncut and for once sensibilities seem to have gotten the better. But what is so contentious about this particular gory schlocker and why now do the censors seem to have come to their senses?

Lets not beat about the bush here, Lucio Fulci was a great horror filmmaker and should always be remembered for the fantastic contribution he made to the genre scene. Sure, not every film was a classic but in their own quirky way most of his output had a certain amount of gutsy charm that has endeared him forever with the horror fan community.

In the latter stages of his career before his sad departure from this realm he delivered a film that would split his fan base into two firm camps, that film was 'Cat in the Brain' (aka 'Nightmare Concert').

'Cat in the Brain' is often viewed in two perspectives - one being that the film is a cut and paste botch job of earlier produced works (well the gory highlights) padded out with some lowbrow black humour to patch it all together. On the other hand, the film has been considered as a witty and darkly humorous personal insight into the lighter and more personal side of the great filmmakers psyche. Me, I like to think that it's a touch of both (with a stronger leaning towards Fulci's humorous personality and as an exercise in him exorcising some demons along the way).

Cat in the Brain

The film (for those that haven't discovered its oddball delights yet) follows Fulci as he becomes convinced that he is losing the plot mentally when he starts to feel the pressure of filming graphic gore flicks. Hallucinatory flashbacks from years of filming gory eye candy soon has him convinced that he is killing folk during blackouts and he visits a psychiatrist neighbour to help him overcome his (what he believes) apparent problem. Whilst reviewing Fulci's casework (well watching his back catalogue of films, lucky guy!) his psychiatrist sees this as the ideal opportunity to do some killing himself and placing the guilt firmly on poor Lucio's shoulders. Will Fulci go completely insane? What will become of our deranged director?

'Cat in the Brain' is (no matter what you way you choose to look at it) a thoroughly enjoyable and fun slice of Fulci insanity that only the most anally retentive could not find some quirky pleasure from. Sure it's nowhere near as classy as say 'The Beyond' (not by a long mile) but it is a whole load of fun! Fulci obviously had a great deal of fun making this film and it shows. Don't' expect any sort of heavy insight to the mind of Fulci, that is apart from his hysterical rantings during moments of inspired blood thirsty insanity ("burned alive, buried alive, tortured, scolded, stabbed"...and so on) Priceless stuff and funny as hell! The scenes used from other productions are well placed and act nicely as feeder for these particular films (Touch of Death, Ghosts of Sodom et al) that like this flick are generally met with often at best tepid reception by some misguided and less forgiving critics (but what do they know?!)

Cat in the Brain

Chainsaw mayhem, cannibalism, lusty Nazis, steak tartar, blood and gore - all rounded off with some highly amusing offbeat antics by the great man himself. What more could a horror fan ask for? Not much to be honest and with this astonishing uncut UK DVD debut the team at Hard Gore/Screen should be rightfully applauded, not as much for delivering a 'special edition' as they haven't but for having the shameless balls for picking up such a luridly exploitative title and managing to get it released here fully uncensored. With this in mind also, we must pay thanks to the glorious inconsistencies by the BBFC - it seems that they are indeed lightening up and realising that the horror film is not going to contribute to the moral decay of society and is simply some exploitation fun for the genre fan. That said, I've still not forgiven them for tainting 'Last House's UK debut and I'm sure they'll still find some way to upset genre fans again in the future. I know they're tied by the law of the land (as seems to be the background for any recent censoring i.e. animal footage in old cannibal flicks) and although I loathe their intrusion I do hope that they decide only to impose their mark if truly necessary and not base their decisions on their own perceptions.

But as ever I digress, yes get the champagne out…a true video nasty is unleashed fully uncut onto the UK market and all horror fans (whether fans of the movie or not) should rejoice. But what of Hard Gore's presentation here? Whilst not pin sharp perfect this is perhaps as good as you're ever likely to see. The full screen image is solid enough with not much in the way of flaws, pretty much on par with a decent video presentation and marginally better than the previous import Astro release. For the paranoid among you this is definitely the full-uncut print, in fact this is the slightly longer Italian version (bearing the onscreen Italian title 'Un Gatto Nel Cervello: i volti del terrore') which includes some extended shots in the closing scene that was omitted from some earlier versions. The audio similar to the image is solid enough whilst not spectacular. In fact the presentation is an all round decent affair. Extras wise, there's a (all too brief) stills gallery made up of some cover images and stills which wont do much to excite but at least with the text sections we get some substantial more promise with a selection of articles/reviews (including the original press statement by the BBFC when they originally rejected the film) culled from Jay Slater's cool 'Eaten Alive' genre film tome acting as a nice teaser onto picking up the book itself. Other than that there's a nice collection of trailers for other Hard Gore releases including 'I Spit On Your Grave' (sadly still mutilated by the British censors), 'Demonium', 'Nutbag', 'Reign in Darkness', the other very welcome uncut UK releases of Fulci's 'Aenigma' and 'The Red Monks', Meir Zarchi's vastly underrated 'Don't Mess With My Sister' (another fine Screen release), 'Bangkok Hell' and a cracking 4 minute promotional reel for the sadly trimmed Deodata gem 'Last Cannibal World'.

'Cat in the Brain' is a great film. Ignore what the films critics have been saying, if you fancy a fun and extremely gory slice of lighthearted exploitation relief from the more po-faced horror movies then this is just the ticket. This uncut release from Hard Gore is a groundbreaking moment for the UK horror fan and reason enough alone for any horror fan worth their salt to march proudly up to the check out of their local DVD retailer immediately brandishing a copy to purchase.

Hail Fulci - add this underrated gory exploitation classic to your collection now!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Hard Gore/Screen
Region - All (PAL)
Rated - 18 (uncut)
Extras :
Stills gallery, Bio/Reviews text sections, trailers selection