Director: Lucio Fulci
So… Fulci’s 8½, or just his cheesy clips show? Maybe a bit of both? By this point in his career, uncle Lucio was pretty much trapped in a ghetto and he must’ve despaired of ever breaking free of it… the solution? Make a film about a horror film maker called Lucio Fulci—casting himself in the lead, of course—slowly being driven mad by years of making horror films, using footage recycled from an assortment of Fulci’s own recent efforts. There’s something kind of irresistible about Cat in the Brain on that conceptual level, whatever else you may think of Fulci and his films, and of this particular film, although I don’t think it can exactly be taken as a serious exploration of the effects horror films have on their viewers (though I’ve no doubt someone somewhere thinks this film is like a confession to that effect by a noted perpetrator of atrocities)… anyway, as I said, “Fulci” is buckling under the strain of his latest production, with all that violence and gore chipping away at his sanity. Fortunately he finds a psychiatrist close to home; unfortunately the latter has seen a few too many “Fulci” films himself, and subjects the hapless director to his hypnotic control in order to make “Fulci” the fall guy for his own murderous tendencies. It could be argued that there’s something cynical about the reuse of so much footage of Fulci’s own recent productions—stuff he directed himself or just produced for other directors—but the story is about “Fulci” being driven mad by his own films, so it does make some sort of sense, and it does add to the general cheap and cheerful feel of the whole thing (along with the shooting of 16mm, mismatching of footage, etc). It’s a fairly mild film, the admittedly copious gore notwithstanding, but I don’t think Fulci was trying to make any serious statements with it, just a bit of light fun poking at himself (cf. the ludicrousness of the scenes “Fulci” is working on in the film)… and I suspect you’d probably have to be a Fulci fan on some level to get much from it, but I kind of liked it for what it is.
Written for the 4th Annual Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies