I’m sure Italy is a wonderful place: nice people, delightful food and wine, rich history, beautiful scenery, etc, etc. But ‘giallo’ films and Italian horror as a whole…I’ll just say they make me absolutely sick.
And I think I know why:
Now Caligula can’t be considered ‘giallo’ OR horror, but it might as well be. If you recall, that film absolutely scared the shit out of me as a kid and I never quite recovered. So my response to Italian horror is similar to having alcohol poisoning: if you get it once by drinking vodka, you can’t quite stomach vodka again. The Italian style of tight closeups, zooms, disorienting music and editing, and fixation on gore and nudity just make me a little queasy.
But I have a job to do. And that job is to watch EVERY cheapass horror film on Tubi. That includes the filmography of the legendary Lucio Fulci. So I started at the worst possible place:
A Cat in the Brain.
The movie forced me to do some research while I was watching it, largely because I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Fulci plays the lead: himself as a film director that’s slowly becoming disturbed by a movie he’s making. As we watch him descend into madness, we’re shown random clips from prior films, almost as if this movie was thrown together in the most halfassed way possible.
A Cat in the Brain was produced towards the end of Fulci’s distinguished career, so there’s no telling where he was mentally. But I’ll say this: Fulci did a much better job of cobbling together this Frankenstein of a movie than Godfrey Ho did for Robo Vampire.
I neglected to mention that A Cat in the Brain is considered a “comedy” (thus deploying the “covering your ass” method over decade before Tommy Wiseau did for The Room). Maybe the humor went over my head, but I was too petrified watching some guy beat his wife’s face off to laugh.
You needn’t worry though, because this movie has a happy ending: a disgusting Fulci sails off into the sunset with a bikini-clad woman that’s at least a third his age.
I hated A Cat in the Brain. But Fulci fans love it. Just check out the reviews at IMDB.
After watching that shitshow I needed a palate cleanser. That’s when I found the 1984 Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins (RIP) classic , Mutant.
Perhaps calling Mutant a ‘classic’ is a bit of a stretch, yet despite its lackluster script, it is competently made. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before: strangers roll into town, weird things happen, everyone turns into zombies, heroes save the day in the most ham fisted way, blah blah blah.
Of course, none of the character archs pay off. Least of all Bo Hopkins’, the alcoholic town sheriff with a dark past. Nevertheless, Hauser and Hopkins’ performances carry the day, ALMOST to the point where you don’t feel cheated out of your time or money.
Actually, I just LOVE saying ‘Wings Hauser’. It sounds like Wings of Desire, the 1987 Wim Wenders film. Then I imagine Wings Hauser being in Wings of Desire and it makes me happy. His might be my most favorite name of anyone who has ever had a name.
It’s not his birth name, but still…