Poor old Lucio Fulci. All those years spent filming gory, graphic violence has done his mind in – he’s seeing rape, torture, dismemberment and decapitation all over the place. Not only that, but his psychiatrist is using Lucio’s fragile mental state to frame him for a series of bloody murders he’s carrying out.
A Cat in the Brain, also widely known as Nightmare Concert, wasn’t Lucio Fulci’s final film (he managed another three pictures before his death in 1996), but it has all the marks of a career swansong. The amount of new footage actually shot for the film only occupies half the running time, the rest – namely the barrage of gory images that bombards Fulci – is taken from a variety of other movies. These include the director’s own Ghosts of Sodom, Andrea Bianchi’s Massacre, Leandro Lucchett’s The Snake House and Giovanni Simonelli’s Non Si Sevizia i Bambini, the latter three amongst several films that Fulci ‘supervised’ during the late eighties. Elsewhere we have Fulci driving through the countryside, visiting restaurants, strolling through town and working on a film-set, looking increasingly worried about that fact that everywhere he goes he’s seeing spraying blood and severed limbs.
If you were going to be very kind you could argue that A Cat in the Brain is some kind of comment on cinematic violence – ie too much of it and you go bonkers – and as Fulci himself states at one point: "If I made love stories no one would buy a ticket". But let’s face it, this is just an excuse for Fulci to cram in as many splatter scenes as he can. Lucio also gets to indulge in some pretty rotten acting, most of which involves mumbling into his beard. On a visceral level, the sheer amount of chainsawed torsos, sliced throats, mashed faces and butchered brains is undeniably impressive, but it’s cheap looking stuff, and taken in one sitting, pretty numbing. There’s not really another film like it though, and you’ll never be able to listen to Grieg’s ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ in the same way again.
Italian director whose long career could best be described as patchy, but who was also capable of turning in striking work in the variety of genres he worked in, most notably horror. After working for several years as a screenwriter, he made his debut in 1959 with the comedy The Thieves. Various westerns, musicals and comedies followed, before Fulci courted controversy in his homeland with Beatrice Cenci, a searing attack on the Catholic church.