Lucio Fulci's "A Cat In The Brain" is the director's most self-reflexive film, full of cynical, grand guignol humour that, much like the first Evil Dead film, derives mainly from sheer overkill in the amount of bloody gore scenes that are shoehorned in to it! After once being condemned as a film likely to have a corrupting effect on it's likely audience by the UK censorship body the BBFC, and, consequently, being flatly refused a certificate (in other words BANNED!), the same august body has now passed the film completely UNCUT in the UK! Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming! For a synopsis of the movie and a proper look at what I've previously had to say about this particular outing from the godfather of gore, click here for my review of the German disc (under the title "Nightmare Concert"). Meanwhile, lets have a look at how this new edition from Screen Entertainment stacks up.
The first thing to hit you is the fantastic improvement in image quality on this version. The German disc was from a poor print, was swimming in grain, poorly mastered and plagued with a menagerie of annoying artefacts throughout, while the UK disc has pin-sharp image quality (you can now even see a camera crew reflected in Fulci's spectacles at one point), strong, solid colours with natural-looking flesh-tones, and only the kind of minimal grain and minor print blemishes you would expect to see on a little valued splatter-fest originally made for Italian TV over ten years ago! The film has been formatted with a 4:3 (full-frame) aspect ratio. The German disc was letter-boxed with a 1:1.66 wide-screen aspect ratio, but I really wouldn't let that put you off getting the UK disc! I kept swapping between the two trying to determine whether there was any information missing from the sides of the screen because of the UK disc's 4:3 ratio, but if there is missing information, it's such a small amount that it really isn't noticeable and the film's composition isn't compromised at all. I would have no hesitation in recommending the UK disc over the previous version because of it's vastly superior image quality.
Screen Entertainment have also included one or two mostly text-based extras for this release. We have an image gallery of stills from the film and quite a useful Lucio Fulci filmography listing all of the work in Fulci's rather varied career; there is also a selection of trailers for other Screen Entertainment releases ("The Red Monks" looks like awesome fun). Finally, we have the text of two reviews of the film--one effusively positive, the other derisive and condemning! Both make entertaining reading and I suspect most viewers will find themselves agreeing with both at various points in their viewing experience of "Cat In The Brain"!
For those of you who have never watched the film before there is a big spoiler coming up now -- but watching the film again, I was struck by the movie within a movie within a movie aspect. It was actually a clever move to have the whole thing revealed to be yet another movie at the end as it covers a multitude of sins (bad special effects and that camera crew reflection for a start)! Since they can all be dismissed as part of the low-budget movie Fulci turns out to be starring in at the end. Clever move Mr Fulci!
At the end of the day "A Cat In The Brain" is a lot of low-grade fun and it has grown on me more and more since I last reviewed it. The improvement in image quality certainly helps! Fulci may have made many better films, but out of the low-budget movies he made toward the end of his career this is certainly the most entertaining--and now the U.K. has the best looking uncut DVD edition of the film! Not something I would have bet money on happening a few months ago ... as I said, somebody pinch me!