The film opens with Dr. Lucio Fulci sitting in his deep, almost trance-like concentration as he writes down a series of murder scenes for his new, gory horror film. As he groans like Freddy Krueger while he writes, we hear his inner voice describing what to expect for the next 90 minutes:
“A woman hacked to death with an axe … her face cleaved in half…another strangled… yet another hanged… someone chopped to bits by a chainsaaaw … or drowned in boiling water, or throat torn out by a maddened cat! Buried alive! Tortured! Scarred! Stabbed! Sawed in two! Crucified! Decapitated…”
There’s no room for any imagination here, so we dive right into a bizarre, messy scene where we see some cats chewing on a big, mushy brain. The cats are clearly prop effects since they obviously didn’t find one, single cat who would eat that nasty-looking shit. But if you’re still hungry, we’re only one minute into the film, and this is just an appetizer.
Then we see some guy in a basement, cutting a fresh corpse to pieces with a chainsaw while we hear classic music playing. He makes some of the flesh into a nice steak that he eats together with some red wine, while he watches some weird fetish porn on TV. The rest of the corpse gets thrown to the pigs. And what we just witnessed was Lucio Fulci transferring his latest draft of the screenplay into his new cinematic masterpiece. A regular day in Fulci land, in other words, and business as usual. Now it’s time for lunch.
And as you have probably figured out by now, Lucio Fulci plays himself as the aging, legendary “Godfather of Gore” who shows no sign of slowing down, physically, at least. But his mind, however, seems to loosing its grips as he begins to see morbid visions from his films, left and right. He can’t suddenly enjoy meat anymore, as he gets flashbacks from his own films. Then his neighbour turns into a madman soaked in blood who threatens him with his chainsaw, and he also soon starts witnessing women getting brutally killed.
We soon learn that all of this is just hallucinations and mind-games, carefully orchestrated by his shady psychiatrist, Egon Schwarz, who hypnotizes Fulci to make him believe that he’s gotten influenced by his own films to kill people. Why, you ask? It’s too easy to guess, and what could be a decent plot-twist, is already wasted thirty minutes in.
But we’re not first and foremost watching a Fulci flick for the plot, are we… we’re here for the gore, the juicy stuff, and that’s what you get. Limbs and heads gets sawed off, a head gets melted in a microwave, tongues get ripped off, there’s Hitchcock-style stabbing, and of course one of Lucio Fulcis’s trademark with slimy corpses with maggots, and much more. We also have several scenes with some sleazy nudity, and a Nazi orgy scene if the shock values already wasn’t enough. It’s complete and utter madness. But if you’re looking for some scares, just forget about it. The tone here is completely off with some eye-rolling killing scenes with “In the Hall of the Mountain King” playing on block-flute. It’s a comedy, I know. But still…
This is far from the same level as his earlier films, for sure, and considering that this was one of his final films and way past the golden era of Italian horror films, and produced by a TV company, it should be no surprise. There’s no atmosphere here, no time for any stylish visuals, and hardly no time to write a script. Fulci’s script for the film was on 49 pages with no dialogues, and consisted of descriptions of bodily mutilations/imagery and sound effects. So there you have it. It’s fast and cheap and out of control, with a more and more confused Lucio Fulci wandering from the next gory scenario to the other to show as much blood and guts as possible. And we are as puzzled as he is, for the most part. And as sloppy the film is on the technical aspects, and not to mention the schlocky acting, it’s still one of Fulci’s truly entertaining films with a lot of awesome and fun moments. Fulci also seemed to have a blast playing himself in his own world of insanity, and makes himself an amusing character to watch.
A Cat in the Brain is available both on DVD and Blu-ray from Grindhouse Releasing and 88 Films.
Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Un gatto nel cervello
Country & year: Italy, 1990
Actors: Lucio Fulci, Brett Halsey, Ria De Simone, David L. Thompson, Sacha Darwin, Jeoffrey Kennedy, Robert Egon, Malisa Longo, Shilett Angel, Paola Cozzo, Adriana Russo, Luciana Ottaviani, Paul Muller