Saturday, April 29, 2017

DOUBLE EXPOSURE BLU-RAY REVIEW

Based on an original story by director William Byron Hillman, DOUBLE EXPOSURE (1983) also incorporates many elements from his earlier film, THE PHOTOGRAPHER (1974), which likewise centered around a shutterbug and a string of homicides. Essentially reprising the same role, Michael Callan once again returns as Adrian Wilde, the tortured fashion photographer, who, this time around, may or may not be involved in a recent spate of murders plaguing Los Angeles.  Although tenuously connected to the ’74 film, DOUBLE EXPOSURE can almost be taken as a prequel of sorts, and thanks to the first-rate work of Vinegar Syndrome, this rather intriguing film receives its best transfer to date.

After a promising opening wherein an undercover cop—dressed in drag!—is brutally killed by an unknown assailant, who seems to be focusing his attentions on L.A. prostitutes (“Bizarre killings continue to plague Los Angeles!” scream the headlines), a pair of cops (Pamela Hensley and David Young) assigned to the case swear they’re (quote) “…gonna nail him!”  Meanwhile, Adrian Wilde (Callan), a prestigious photographer is suffering from vivid, horrifying nightmares in which he murders his models; but worse yet, he’s having a hard time deciphering the difference between his dreams and reality… especially after a number of these models start turning-up dead for real. 

Hovering conspicuously between a slasher film (“Smile, and say ‘Die!’”) and an erotic thriller, DE benefits greatly from some energetic performances, including that of Hollywood vet Callan as the conflicted and utterly-confounded lead.  At times, he’s quite over-the-top, which only adds to the confusing structure of the film, and in fact, his baffling mood-swings definitely work in favour of the film.  During frequent visits to his shrink, Dr. Frank Curtis, (the great Seymour Cassel), Wilde strives to get a grip on his situation, to no avail. “Listen man, sometimes, it’s gettin’… like the dreams… I can’t tell when they’re real and…”, he exclaims, much to Doc Curtis’ bafflement.  Sure enough, even Curtis begins to doubt Wilde’s sanity as more and more women turn up dead.  For the most part, much of the acting is uneven, but again, this shortcoming actually compliments the far-fetched plot, which also allows director Hillman to seize the opportunity and include some ’80s-style sleaze and violence, which, to be honest, almost seems out-of-place at times: a nude woman getting startlingly and viciously slashed with a knife comes readily to mind.  In lesser, if no-less-significant roles, frequent TV star Joanna Pettet as Wilde’s girlfriend (“You’re the first stranger I ever picked-up!”) also instills a believable vulnerability into her character, even going so far as to provide some surprising nudity while Cleavon Little as a clichéd police chief is always entertaining no matter how small the role. The remainder of the cast is also made up of many familiar faces, including Misty Rowe, who is probably best remembered from Ferd and Beverly Sebastien’s THE HITCHHIKERS (1974), along with Michael Miller’s slasher spoof, CLASS REUNION (1982); the burly Robert Tessier, a distinctive veteran stuntman and character actor who, at the time, probably had his biggest public exposure on television as the Midas Muffler man; as well as future Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland as a prostitute. 

Initially released by BCI in both their After Dark Thrillers and Blood Chills box sets, DE later resurfaced via Millcreek’s Drive-In Cult Classics 32 Movie Set, but all these collections featured an incorrectly-framed transfer that was closer to 1.85:1.  In 2012, through their “Katarina’s Nightmare Theatre” line of DVDs, Scorpion Releasing took their stab at it, finally presenting the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  No surprise, Vinegar Syndrome’s All-Region, Dual-Format Blu-ray / DVD combo is a noticeable step-up in terms of picture quality, boasting sharper resolution and more subdued colours, which makes for a far clearer, better-defined image.  The DTS-HD English audio track also sounds terrific, and as an added bonus, Jack Goga’s score is also offered as an isolated option. 

Unlike Scorpion’s DVD, which featured two commentary tracks (one with actor Callan moderated by Scott Spiegel and the other with DP R. Michael Stringer), that disc also featured an on-camera interview with Callan, which Vinegar Syndrome didn’t port-over for this release.  For their edition, VS has recorded an ‘all-new’ commentary with Stringer, as well including an assortment of newly-produced extras.  Moderated via telephone – or possibly Skype - with VS’ Joe Rubin, Stringer discusses the DE’s relationship to Hillman’s earlier film THE PHOTOGRAPHER and why he chose to shoot the low-budget feature in scope; he also discusses his wide-ranging career and the fate that befell the project at Crown International Pictures, the film’s U.S. distributor.  In the first on-camera interview, Exposing Double Exposure (29m28s), Stringer discusses his beginnings in the industry working as a PA (production assistant) and at various jobs in the camera department, as well as his earlier stint as a DP on Alain Patrick’s BLUE MONEY ([1971] also available from VS).  He also discusses the genesis of DOUBLE EXPOSURE, along with some of the issues he had shooting with anamorphic lenses.  In the second on-camera interview, Staying on Task (19m21s), script supervisor Sally Stringer talks about her early career in theatre and her subsequent migration to L.A. where she met her future husband Michael; her chance meeting with legendary director Orson Welles while she was a stage manager, which eventually led to her working as a script supervisor with Welles; and also, some of her work alongside both her husband and director Gary Graver.  Other extras include the original theatrical trailer and a ‘promotional still gallery’.  In addition, the first 1,000 copies come with a thick O-card featuring some striking cover art courtesy of Derek Gabryszak; a limited edition which, according to VS, has been selling very well—so grab one here before it disappears!


All-in-all, DOUBLE EXPOSURE is interesting stylistically, and thanks to a highly-capable and game cast, is quite engrossing, while occasionally bolstered by bouts of nudity and graphic violence, those enduringly-popular exploitation staples.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

FIRST MAN INTO SPACE - DVD REVIEW

Reviewed by Steve Fenton.

In this cost-conscious if lovable moodily-monochromatic 1959 British creature feature directed by Robert Day, American leading man Marshall (CULT OF THE COBRA [1955], BOG [1979]) Thompson oversees government-funded rocket testing, wherein an astronaut (who ‘just happens’ to be his kid brother, played by Bill Edwards) pierces the ionosphere and soon becomes the character referred to in the title. However—big surprise!—something goes horribly awry, and said astro-bro returns from the outside edge of space to good old terra firma, where he subsequently degenerates into a sociopathic, horrendously mutating monster with a penchant for offing minor cast members regular-as-clockwork. Set for the most part in “Mexico,” though actually entirely lensed in the UK—as a few of the rather dodgy faux ‘foreign’ accents testify—FMIS is capably-enough-fabricated that it may be regarded as a minor gem of ’50s pulp sci-fi/horror.

Soap opera is added to the plot in the tension often generated between the two brothers: Thompson, the staid and stuffy, by-the-book officer and Edwards as Dan, the reckless, good-time test pilot whose unquenchable jones for high-speed thrills sometimes overtakes his basic common sense (as here). Some surprisingly well-executed rocketship FX, with coldly clinical ‘scientific babble’ kept to a restrained minimum, add to the generally taut, ominous mood.
Mexican lobbycard courtesy of Steve Fenton.

Edwards’ ship (the ‘Y-13,’ clearly based on the real-life X-15 in name, if not design) passes through what resembles a spatial snowstorm, an unforeseen development which brings an abrupt end to the mission before it’s barely even gotten off the launch-pad. The disabled rocket then drops back down to Earth, where Thompson heads a desperate countrywide search for his missing junior sibling, hoping to save him before time runs out. Italian actress Marla Landi, playing the downed astronaut’s concerned earthbound girlfriend, pulls in a few plot strings that are highly reminiscent of situations in Val Guest’s THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (a.k.a. THE CREEPING UNKNOWN, 1956), as she blames his onscreen big brother Thompson for her sweetie’s predicament, when in actuality Edwards’ character had largely engineered his own unenviable predicament by not sticking to the carefully-planned itinerary and foolishly veering-off on an unplotted course of his own right in mid-flight.

Before long, ‘eerie’ music starts up, and we are given fleeting glimpses of the formerly wholly-human Edwards’ ever-transforming gurgling / growling / shadowy / lumbering form. And the body count soon begins to rack-up: a nurse and some cattle are left ‘slaughtered’—albeit all ‘conveniently’ off-screen—leaving formulaic dialogue to bear the burden of instilling suspense (e.g., “What could’ve caused such wanton destruction?”). The usual horrible wounds and traces of an alien substance are found on the bodies of victims.

About halfway into the narrative, we finally get a good gander at the culprit: namely baby brother’s mutated, warty, semi-monstrified self. Admittedly moody (though derivative in the extreme) passages detail the crud-encrusted creature’s grumpy antics. Before too long, hero Thompson comes to the unpleasant realization that that blood-drinking, meteorite-dusted monster roaming the countryside is none other than his poor sibling, Dan (not to mention a hulking great extra doing his absolute worst Glenn Strange-impersonating-Karloff impersonation). When the monster is revealed for too long at a stretch, as is often the case, the impact is lessened, and the comedic level upped; this is helped none by constant outbursts of lurid, pulpy scriptwriting. But you takes what you can get, as they say, and FMIS has plenty to like about it, so cut it some slack, okay? Chances are if you’re in any way, shape or form a fan of old school monster movies that you’ll find more than enough in the way of entertainment value here.
U.S. lobbycard courtesy of Steve Fenton.

Dan progressively becomes more and more alien in both appearance and behavior, the latter due to his mind gradually becoming absorbed and assimilated by the extraterrestrial sentience which has taken possession of his brain matter. He—er, better make that it—invades the scientific research complex to go on a stiff-limbed, mummy-like vandalism spree, while his former colleagues valiantly seek to reason with him despite his ever-failing human faculties as the more bestial alien side of his mutating nature gains ever-greater dominance. Big brother Chuck ultimately saves the day… if unfortunately not his brother, which was pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway, so his demise comes as no big surprise to us at all (hence, no ‘Spoiler Alert’ was given here in advance of me divulging at least part of the big reveal!).

While there are certainly more memorable flicks of this type (William Sachs’ THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN [1977], a fittingly trashy ‘homage’ to the subgenre, most readily springs to mind), it’s always fun watching Marshall Thompson do his earnest if bored-looking best while trying to sort-out things that are way beyond his ken to understand. Individual scenes certainly stick in your brainpan afterwards, and the screenplay offers up enough neat touches and little ironies that you can’t help but radiate a modicum of fondness for FMIS.

Previously issued on DVD—during the format’s infancy—in 1998 by Image Entertainment, the film got a nice overhaul in 2007 courtesy of the Criterion Collection as part of their 4-disc Monsters and Madmen collection.  Once again shown in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, FMIS now looks considerably sharper here than ever before, with easier-to-make-out details and healthier blacks. As expected for a film of this vintage, the original mono audio won’t be demo material, but it sounds clear throughout, without any hiss or other such issues.

As expected, Criterion includes some nifty extras on their disc, beginning with an informative commentary by producer Richard Gordon and film historian Tom Weaver, who go into all sorts of detail about the production and its principal players.  Both men have plenty to say about this modest production, ensuring a solid listen.  On-camera interviews with director Robert Day and actress Marla Landi are also included, as are the theatrical trailer, some radio spots and a stills gallery, too.

Sure, that overused, gung-ho ‘Let’s-start-all-over-again’ ending has worn a mite thin over the intervening decades, but FIRST MAN INTO SPACE is one which any lover of cheapjack ’50s monster schlock will be happy to plug into. The same team’s FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958) is lots better, though; although I do so hate playing favorites when it comes to this sort of thing, because they’ve all got their places in the great scheme of things, and there’s plenty of room for everybody, after all. Order FIRST MAN INTO SPACE here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE OTHER HELL - BLU-RAY REVIEW

In an extended prologue, Sister Cristina ventures into a dark, decrepit old crypt of a contemporary nunnery where Sister Assunta (Paola Montenero) apparently resides.  This gloomy place doubles as Sister Assunta’s makeshift laboratory of sorts, where she is in the midst of embalming a deceased ‘sinful nun’. Believing that (quote) “the genitals are the door to evil!” she angrily stabs the corpse in its groin, while her junior “assistant” Sister Cristina understandably watches in horror.  Seemingly, maybe even supernaturally, possessed by some malevolent spirit - a potential fact which is crudely implied by a shot of what appears to be a corpse with flashing red eyes - Sister Assunta becomes increasingly hysterical as she attacks Sister Cristina, stabbing her to death. And so begins Bruno Mattei’s scandalous THE OTHER HELL (1980), which is making its Blu-ray debut courtesy of those crazy cinema connoisseurs at Severin Films in what is surely the definitive version to date of this enjoyable—and at times truly delirious—nunsploitation shocker.

When, at this same sinister convent, another nun by the name of Sister Rosaria (the so-called “Susan Forget” [she probably wishes she could!] a.k.a. Susanna Forgioni), unexpectedly coughs-up blood and manifests stigmata after taking the holy sacrament, the Church sends in Father / padre Inardo (“Andrew Ray” a.k.a. Andrea Aureli) to investigate, but he gets nowhere thanks to the ever-paranoid—and exceedingly strict!—Mother Superior (Franca Stoppi, also seen as a similarly fanatical character that same year in “Oblowsky”/Mattei’s own, and much-more-sexploitative “sister” effort, The TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA [1980]).  Undeterred, the Bishop (Tom Felleghy) appoints the level-headed Father Valerio (Carlo De Mejo) to continue with the investigation. Valerio believes that (quote) “evil exists in the hearts and minds of human beings”, but both his faith and skills as a sort of “ecclesiastical detective” will be challenged to their very limits by the horror that awaits him…

Although the late Joe D’Amato once bemoaned the poor box-office receipts of his own ‘nunsploitation’ efforts - including IMAGES IN A CONVENT (1979), which has since gone on to become hailed as a sort of “cornerstone” of its type! – many of these “nasty nun” movies (which have nowadays become more popularly known as “nunsploitation”) are now a popular subgenre among international trash/cult film fanatics. Perhaps not unexpectedly, the lion’s share of such fare hails from Italy (although various other Latin nations and even - go figure! - Japan have also proven to be quite prolific sources of similar material in all forms of media). However, unlike most of its softcore - and even full-on/all-out hardcore - sister films, THE OTHER HELL transposed many of the subgenre’s themes into a horror movie framework instead.  While definitely still falling firmly into nasty nun territory, Mattei’s film barely bares even a nipple and instead focuses primarily on the blood ’n’ guts horror aspects, even pilfering certain plot points from such popular films as William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST (1973) and Brian De Palma’s CARRIE (1976).  Unofficially co-directed by scriptwriter—and future “solo” director—Claudio Fragasso, THE OTHER HELL was shot simultaneously - at the very same location, in fact - alongside Mattei’s other nunsploitation flick, the aforementioned THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA, which utilized many of the same cast members as well.
Italian fotobusta courtesy of Steve Fenton.

As per any Mattei / Fragasso collaboration, everything is waaayyy over-the-top, even verging on the outright ridiculous at times, which is especially prominent in a number of the less-than-stellar performances.  For instance, Paola Montenero - an actress from the early days of Italian hardcore porn - as Sister Assunta provides just one such example as she rants and raves during the opening few minutes, whose hysterical histrionics establish the fevered tone early into the narrative.  It’s only Aureli and De Mejo, as colleague clerics Fathers Inardo and Valerio respectively, who give believably naturalistic performances.  In the face of escalating madness, Fr. Valerio possesses a keen acumen for the ungodly weirdness that is plaguing the convent.  Upon his arrival, Mother Vincenza and the other nuns are going around frantically torching anything and everything pertaining to Sister Rosaria’s death.  “The evil is getting burned!” exclaims Mother Vincenza. But Fr. Valerio, ever the gumshoe as well as a priest, responds much more rationally and cannily by saying, “The fingerprints tend to disappear in the ashes, too!”  Much like in a giallo, Fr. Valerio methodically tries to get to the bottom of the ever-mounting mystery, even at the risk of his own life; the film even resorts to clichéd red herrings like the convent’s caretaker Boris (“Frank Garfeeld” a.k.a. Franco Garofalo, another alumnus of THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA).  But rather than becoming just another mundane mystery thriller, THE OTHER HELL really lets loose in its final act, into which figures everything from paranormal childbirth to a Pazuzu-like demon, with even some telekinesis thrown in to really mix things up. 

Previously available on VHS through Vestron Video in the U.S. (the preferable option) and in Canada from Lettuce Entertain You, Inc. (a cruddy cheapo label), THE OTHER HELL also secured a solid DVD edition from Shriek Show in 2003, which, at that time, amounted to one of their worthier releases.  Taken from a newly-transferred 35mm print jokingly claimed to have been “discovered behind a false wall in a Bologna nunnery” (HAH!), Severin’s new Blu-ray is a considerable improvement over Shriek Show’s DVD, and is much more representational of the movie’s low-budget origins.  Presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, some of the darker, possibly too-underlit scenes still reveal the film stock’s natural grain, but much of the image is considerably sharper and even colourful, although some occasional speckles and other visual debris are apparent, which, to be fair, don’t distract at all.  In a nice added gesture, Severin have not only included the expected English dubbing track, but also Italian and French audio options - with optional English SDH subtitles - as well.  All three audio tracks are in uncompressed LPCM 2.0 Mono, but most viewers will undoubtedly stick with the English one, which features such familiar-to-the-ears voice-acting talent as John Gayford, who reads Fr. Valerio’s lines in the vernacular.
  
In terms of extras, the main highlight is an audio commentary with Claudio Fragasso, moderated by Freak-O-Rama’s Federico Caddeo.  Very thorough and quite the storyteller, Fragasso discusses the various locations, which utilized the derelict convent of Santa Priscilla in Rome and some interiors at De Paolis studios, as well as the famous Cimitero di Fontanelle in Naples for the opening shots; plus the challenges of shooting two films at once within a tight 5-week schedule (“Bruno was quite absorbed in the other movie”), which allowed him to (quote) “impose” his own ideas onto the film; and he also relates how—not surprisingly, due to its more sensationalistic / exploitational elements, despite its dearth of either nudity or sexual content—the present film went on to become the more successful, better-distributed, and hence most widely-seen of the two pictures.  Other topics discussed in Severin’s commentary track by Fragasso include the (quote) “very collaborative” relationship he had with Bruno Mattei; as well as some of the other personnel involved with the production, including editor Liliana Serra, who was Mattei’s wife.  It’s an excellent, fast-paced commentary, filled with plenty of interesting facts, anecdotes and trivia related to the production, and is well-worth the listen.

Other extras include Sister Franca (13m12s), an archival on-camera interview with the late Franca Stoppi (who died in 2011), wherein the actress - who is arguably best-known for co-starring in D’Amato’s necrophilic gross-out BEYOND THE DARKNESS (a.k.a. BURIED ALIVE, 1979) - covers many of the same topics, and Stoppi also relates how she worked on both THE OTHER HELL and THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA during the day whilst juggling theatre work at night.  She also discusses her bout with stage fright, plus her then-current interests as an animal rights advocate/activist.   In To Hell and Back (11m20s), which is a reedited piece combining archival interviews (from the Shriek Show DVD) with Bruno Mattei and Carlo De Mejo, they discuss a potentially different location used for the convent (i.e., the Palazzo Borghese on Via di Novella); supporting actress Montenero, who was married to director Massimo Pirri; and how Mattei’s friendship with Cinevox’s Carlo Bixio allowed him to acquire the Goblin music tracks heard in the film.  The original theatrical trailer finishes off the extras, and, once again, Severin have also included reversible cover art, which features both the long-defunct Interlight video label’s U.K. VHS art as well as Vestron’s U.S. vid art. All this and a promotional cover-blurb quoted from Monster! zine / Unpopped’s own Steve Fenton(e)’s book AntiCristo: The Bible of Nasty Nun Sinema & Culture (FAB Press, 2000) too, yet! Hell, he even kicked-off his long-out-of-print tome with a suitably lurid dialogue passage taken from the very film under review, revealing just how much the film epitomizes nunsploitation cinema as a whole.

Whatever one’s personal views regarding this decidedly dubious subgenre, THE OTHER HELL remains one of its more outrageously entertaining and enjoyable efforts, so go ahead and corrupt your soul with Severin’s new Blu-ray. It definitely delivers the sinful goods! Order it from Severin or DiabolikDVD.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

CATHY'S CURSE - BLU-RAY REVIEW

Having for the longest time been unceremoniously relegated to dusty, overflowing bargain bins via countless DVD multi-packs in various hard-on-the-eye cheapo versions, Eddy Matalon’s CATHY’S CURSE (1976) hasn’t fared very well in the digital format; however, in light of Severin’s flawless new Blu-ray edition, that oft-used phrase “It’s like seeing it for the first time!” really applies, as truer words have seldom been spoken!

From its opening moments, CATHY’S CURSE has a strange, unnerving temperament to it; so typical of many a Canadian-lensed horror film of the period, which is quietly demonstrated in the rather distressing opening sequence, set in 1947.  On a particularly spooky night, Robert (Peter McNeil) Gimble arrives home to not only discover that his wife has up and left him flat, but that, making matters worse, she has also made off with their young son George…yet in the process leaves their daughter Laura (Linda Koot) behind.    With his daughter in tow, Robert drives off into the night in the hopes of tracking down his runaway spouse, only to lose control of the family car on the rain-soaked streets, causing both he and his daughter to burn to death in the ensuing wreck.  30 years later, George (Alan Scarfe) returns ‘home’ with his unstable wife Vivian (Beverly Murray)—who has recently recovered from a nervous breakdown due to the loss of her most recent child—along with their daughter Cathy (Randi Allen) who, almost immediately, begins exhibiting odd behaviours when, up in the attic, she finds a raggedy old doll—with its eyes sewn shut, mysteriously enough.

Mary (Dorothy Davis) feeling the wrath of Cathy's (Randi Allen) curse.

In terms of scene-structure or, to be more precise, general cohesiveness, CATHY’S CURSE is a little all-over-the-place, but it’s this skewed, screwily-schizoid logic which actually develops into one of the film’s strongest assets.  By 1976, following on the heels of William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST (1973), films about possessed kids were already beginning to saturate the horror genre, with the likes of Richard Donner’s THE OMEN (1976) and Robert Wise’s AUDREY ROSE (1977); the latter of which, rather curiously, essentially tells the same story as CATHY’S CURSE. But Matalon’s film is so distinctive and so odd—oftentimes for the wrong reasons—that it’s hard to shake from your memory.  As with many low-budget films, the film’s most major failing is its script (or rather, lack of one!), which, according to Joyce Allen (CC’s costume designer, who is also the mother of the film’s juvenile star, Randi Allen) wasn’t given to them until the first day of the shoot!  Despite this unusual tactic, the acting is, for the most part, quite decent, considering the decidedly scattershot nature of it all.  At one point, Agatha (Mary Morter), one of the neighbourly women, who ‘just happens’ to also be a clairvoyant, begins to suffer from horrible visions involving the long-deceased Laura; but her character is never fully-developed, and even when she does return to the house, she’s degraded (“Fat, dried-up whore!”) by Cathy, and told never to return.  In yet another plot device, which rapidly goes nowhere, the local detective (Sony Forbes) is investigating the sudden unexplained death of Mary (Dorothy Davis), one of the house’s caretakers. However, instead of becoming a primary character, he shortly disappears just as quickly as he was introduced.

Cathy's father, George (Alan Scarfe - left) with the local detective (Sony Forbes).

Further weirdness ensues when Paul (Roy Witham), the other house’s caretaker, is enveloped by snakes, rats and spiders while Cathy watches mischievously. And of course, no one ever believes Vivian when she tells them that her daughter is evil incarnate (“I don’t know how to explain it, but something’s wrong”), who also suffers from possible nightmarish hallucinations—but does she really?—whilst taking a bath, when the water seemingly turns blood-red and she becomes covered in leeches. 

Belgian poster courtesy of Steve Fenton.
One of the film’s more interesting subtexts entails Cathy’s—uh, Laura’s, I should say!—hatred of her mother, or why she abandoned her in the first place.  Other than for a single throwaway line heard during its pre-credit sequence (“Your mother’s a bitch! She’ll pay for what she did to you!”), it’s never really made clear at all.  Was she neglected or otherwise abused, or was Laura’s father Robert just pissed that she got dumped by her mom?  Or perhaps Laura had been already exhibiting malevolently malicious traits, hence her abandonment?  Maybe Laura’s mother wasn’t the one to blame and was merely stuck in a luckless marriage, so decided to just take off; a drastic step which, in 1947, would have been a very uncharacteristic one for any married woman to make.  This is further exemplified, however subtly, when Cathy displays the very same kind of hatred, as even her mother goes through a crisis of her own while George is always away working, nowhere to be found. 

Cathy (Randi Allen).
For anyone seeing CATHY’S CURSE for the first time, they should be pleasantly surprised by the film’s unusual approach to the material—whether it was intentional or a budgetary necessity—and, for anyone who has ever endured any of the prior cruddy bootleg editions, they will be awestruck by the sheer crystal-clarity of it all, and as usual, Severin also includes some highly interesting extra features, which only sweetens the deal.  The first extra is Tricks or Treats (20m15s), an on-camera interview with Eddy Matalon, wherein the French-born director discusses taking advantage of Canada’s then-flourishing ‘Tax Shelter’ subsidies, also discussing the extraordinary Roy Witham, who was (quote) “kind of crazy”, as well as his love for (quote) “Anglo-Saxon films” and his dissatisfaction with current SFX movies.  In Cathy and Mum (12m42s), Randi Allen displays some of her mother’s newspaper clippings related to the film, and seems shocked that people are still talking about it some 40 years later, while Joyce Allen discusses the spontaneity of the production and also her surprised reaction when she realized that it was a horror film they had signed-on to.  The disc also features a very relaxed (and much-too-apologetic!) audio commentary track from BirthMoviesDeath critic Brian Collins and filmmaker Simon Barrett, who express their love for the film, including discussing many of its glaring inconsistencies and general weirdness.  Other extras include an intro to CC’s Cinematic Void screening (4m27s), plus its original U.S. theatrical trailer, which has been cleverly reedited to incorporate the newly-restored print’s imagery.  Lastly, Severin has also included both the original—and actually superior—91-minute director’s cut, as well as the more-familiar 82-minute U.S. theatrical version, as was originally released back in the day by 21st Century Distribution.

Though heavily-flawed, CATHY’S CURSE reveals itself to be a consistently compelling little film; which, thanks to Severin’s wonderfully crisp and pristine restoration, has never looked better, and it’s already lining-up to be one of the BEST discs of 2017!  Order your copy from Severin (Blu-ray or Cathy’s Cursed Bundle) or via DiabolikDVD today!