Last year, Grindhouse Releasing created a definitive edition of Lucio Fulci’s top classic in their 2 blu-ray/1 CD set for The Beyond. They have now turned their attentions to one of the more overlooked and under-distributed films in the Fulci catalog, Cat In The Brain. The director’s fans will be happy to know that the Grindhouse crew has lavished the same amount of love on this film as it did on The Beyond, creating a jam-packed special edition that gives the viewer insight into the final days of Fulci’s career.
The transfer does great work with a difficult set of conditions: Cat In The Brain is a mixture of footage taken from several films combined with wraparound footage that was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm. The HD image copes with all of these challenges nicely, with all the different footage elements looking better than ever and new footage looking particularly colorful and clear. Both English and Italian lossless mono mixes, the latter with English subs, and both sound nice and clear.
Grindhouse carries over the extras from their prior DVD edition of this title plus an array of supplements created for this set, resulting in enough bonus material to fill its own blu-ray…
Antonio Tentori Interview (27:13): Cat In The Brain‘s screenwriter reveals how he went from idolizing Fulci to writing for him and what it was like trying to do good work in the dying days of the Italian genre film industry. He gets into how the project was conceived as a way to repurpose undistributed films, why Fulci ended up playing himself and the ways in which existing footage was reworked and redubbed. He’s genuinely fond of his old mentor and that gives this segment an unexpectedly warm-hearted feel.
Sandro Grossi Interview (27:55): the film’s cinematographer talks about how he got into the film business, with Fulci playing a key role. He discusses Cat In The Brain as well as Demonia and Voices From Beyond, explaining how technical issues and financial woes created situations created problems on these films. Fulci’s knowledge of the camera inspired him and he pays fond tribute to his old boss, particularly in his final comments.
Fabio Frizzi Interview (30:31): the composer looks back on his history of writing scores for Fulci, including details on trying to live up to Fulci’s desire for Bob Dylan-style songs on Four Of The Apocalypse, how he came up with the seven-note motif for The Psychic and why The Beyond is his favorite Fulci score. He paints a portrait of Fulci as a tough but rewarding boss and talks about rediscovering his love for the Cat In The Brain score via performing it in recent concerts.
Frizzi Live In Hollywood (7:35): video footage of Frizzi and his band doing a spirited medley of a couple of themes from Cat In The Brain. Fans of Italian horror scores will love this, with the contagious glee of Frizzi and company making it a lot of fun to watch.
Enzo Scotti (17:53): the artist who created the distinctive Cat In The Brain poster art talks about his history as a poster artist, discussing his apprenticeship in the business, his techniques and why he ultimately left the business. It closes with a neat demonstration of him painting an image that shows his chops are very much intact.
Tentori Interviews Fulci (16:25): this 1987 piece from Italian radio has a young Tentori discussing genre film with Fulci. The director shows an acute awareness of his ghettoization as a genre filmmaker but takes pride in being its “last survivor.” His comments are smart and laced with acid cynicism. The audio is presented with English subtitles and appropriate background images.
Fulci – The Television Years (40:53): the first part of an epic 1995 sitdown with Fulci deals with his work in television but also covers the ups and downs of his early film career, his abortive career as a doctor prior to getting into film and some chat about Beatrice Cenci.
Fulci – Genre Terrorist (40:18): the other half of the 1995 chat has Fulci going deep on a number of topics related to his career as a genre director. Topics include the difference between horror and thriller films, a tart assessment of the relationship between the U.S. and Italian film businesses and his thoughts on various actors and filmmakers. He’s a crabby delight – and be sure to listen out for a rant about his hatred of psychoanalysis.
Brett Halsey Interview (46:03): the veteran actor takes the viewer on a relaxed but informative tour through his lengthy career, covering everything from his days as a Universal Studios contract player to his days with Fulci and beyond. Unusually for an actor who worked with Fulci, he reveals that he had enough pull with the director to make his own acting choices – and he also reveals his reaction to finding out that footage from his Fulci films was used in Cat In The Brain without his permission.
Memories Of Lucio (5:00): a trio of quick snippets with Cat In The Brain supporting players Jeoffrey Kennedy, Sacha Maria Darwin and Malisa Longo offering up quick tributes to their former director. Darwin has the most interesting comments, talking about how he used his films to work out his complicated feelings towards women.
Still Gallery/Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors (23:31): This starts with a few minutes of ad mats and other images but quickly shifts to fan-shot video of Fulci’s triumphant final public appearance in 1996 at a Fangoria convention. With the help of a translator, he participates in a Q&A session: he thrives on the crowd’s energy and they eat up his misanthropic humor.
Other Extras: Italian and American trailers for Cat In The Brain, the customary epic reel of Grindhouse Releasing trailers (featuring a surprise inclusion in Pigs) and a couple of typically well-written text bios for Fulci and Halsey. Be sure to check out the filmographies included with the bios: they include bonus trailers for some of Fulci’s work in other genres plus extra interview clips with Halsey about specific films.
Soundtrack CD: the third disc in this set is a CD offering the full score for Cat In The Brain by Fabio Frizzi. It’s less lush and more digital-sounding in its electronics than his earlier work but it’s still worth a listen for fans. Like his other Fulci horror scores, it shows a deft skill for arranging rock instrumental material to fit the needs of a horror film, with the main theme being a typically moody and complex Frizzi composition. You’ll also hear a few cues from The Beyond thrown in. Even better, you get the audio version of the live performance of the Cat In The Brain medley featured on this set’s second blu-ray.
Liner Notes: A full-color booklet has been included that boasts four essays. An introduction by Fulci’s daughter Antonella kicks things off with an intriguing mix of soul-searching and macabre whimsy. An appreciation by Eli Roth follows that explores the film as a metaphor for a film director’s fears. David J. Schow also pops up with his take on the film as a kind of ironic late-period giallo. The best comes last, with Martin Beine presenting a carefully researched report on the different films that Cat In The Brain borrows footage from, including breakdowns of what is used where.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Cat In The Brain, click here.