Last year I made my way through Brian Collins’ Horror Movie a Day: The Book, which highlights a different horror movie for every day of the year. If you don’t know, Collins is the creator of the website of the same name where he chronicled his viewing of a horror film every single day for six years straight. This book highlights some of the best (and worst) of his time doing that. There was one film that Collins mentioned over and over again in the book, and it was the 1977 release of Cathy’s Curse. He not only champions this film in his book, but now that Severin Films is releasing this Blu-ray, he often talks about it on his twitter account as well. He’s arguably the film’s biggest fan as he has a genuine love for it. Frankly, he is the only reason why I ended up purchasing this movie, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that.
Cathy’s Curse is filled with all sorts of “what the fuckery”, if I may use a term I recently learned from The Garbage Pail Kids Movie special features. It tells the story of the Gimble family, and their recent move back into George, the father’s, childhood home. It may be difficult to gather with one viewing of the film, but George’s older sister was actually taken from the home by their angry father – delivering some fantastically funny opening lines of dialogue between the two – and this results in a fiery car crash, killing both the father and the sister. Apparently, the sister, Laura, is now haunting the family home, even though she died in a car accident, and not in the home itself. After moving in, Cathy, George’s daughter, starts acting oddly. She eventually finds a raggedy old doll in the attic, and that doll acts as the catalyst for all the evil that the family starts experiencing as it “curses Cathy”.
This Blu-ray from Severin contains both the “U.S. Cut” of the film, which is what most people will know of the movie because it was the most readily available according to what I have found about the film, and also the Director’s Cut, which runs about eight minutes longer. One of the reasons this movie is so endeared is because of the fact that it makes very little sense, mostly due to the strange editing. Knowing that now, I wish I would’ve made the shorter, U.S. Cut of the film my first viewing because it would have made the “what the hell am I watching” aspect of the film more pronounced, and likely would have been more fun the first time out. Don’t get me wrong, even the Director’s Cut is jarring and confusing, but having now watched both, I can definitely see how the shorter version is likely preferred for fans of the film.
Another aspect of the editing that is worth mentioning is the pacing. The first half of the film – especially in the U.S. Cut – feels chopped up and brisk. The second half of the film, on both cuts, however, drags out scenes for much too long. It makes the journey to the end a bit of a drag, unfortunately, because we get scenes that go on for minutes longer than they need to in order to tell the story. It’s an odd tale of two halves, really, but definitely not the strangest part of Cathy’s Curse by a long-shot.
There are so many different elements of this movie that will leave you questioning what exactly you’re watching. There are characters that are introduced once or twice, and then disappear with no explanation. Then there are other characters that virtually appear out of nowhere, with no backstory given to justify their existence, that become integral parts of the story. There are continuity errors that will leave you laughing, like a drowning scene where we see a character being fully submerged, fighting for his or her life, only to see the rescuer standing up in the same spot with the water only coming up to their knees. And the dialogue. Oh, man, that dialogue. There are some ridiculous lines in Cathy’s Curse that will surely have you smiling and cringing at the same time. Some of the lines that Cathy delivers specifically are just hilarious, mostly because she says them with such vigor for a preteen-aged little girl. There are plenty of moments like these that will leave you scratching your head, laughing, cringing, or all of the above, and that’s what makes Cathy’s Curse so endearing.
Some films are made to be viewed in a theatre filled with people of similar interests, and lots of alcohol, and that is the category that Cathy’s Curse falls into. I really wish I would have watched the U.S. Cut first as it would’ve added to the craziness of the whole film, but I’d definitely argue that the Director’s Cut is the “better” movie. But, frankly, we don’t watch films like Cathy’s Curse because they’re good movies, we watch them because there is a certain charm to them that really cannot be duplicated today, as hard as some might try. Is Cathy’s Curse good? No. Is Cathy’s Curse worth seeing? Absolutely. Preferably with a large, raucous audience that’s willing to laugh with it, not at it.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best Cathy’s Curse has ever looked. The only other releases readily available for this in the States were generally bootleg copies, or from one of the Mill Creek box sets, which are almost always of questionable quality. Sure, some of the shots are a bit blown out, giving a white glow that the director probably didn’t intend to be there, but Severin managed to give this a full HD restoration, transferred in 2K from newly discovered film elements. There is a bit of grain, but this is a low-budget horror film from forty years ago, so that isn’t unexpected. I didn’t have any problems with the transfer on this one other than some blown out shots, but those aren’t terrible at all. If your only experience with this was from Mill Creek in the past, you’ll surely be blown away by the picture quality.
On the audio side, there is only a Mono English option, and though the back of the Blu-ray release lists English, French, Italian, and Spanish as audio options, these were not present on the disc at all. There is an English subtitle option, however, and the same options are available from both cuts. That said, though, the audio is just fine. I never had a problem with the balancing, and was able to hear everything well enough.
As mentioned earlier, there are two distinct versions of this film available on this Blu-ray release: the Director’s Cut and the Alternate U.S. Release Cut. I’d definitely recommend starting with the U.S. release, and then moving to the Director’s Cut if you want to see what was cut out. The U.S. Cut is about 8 minutes shorter than the Director’s Cut, and I love that Severin had the wherewithal to include both cuts on this disc.
Tricks and Treats: An Interview with Director Eddy Matalon (20:16) – This is an interesting interview because it’s clear that the director enjoys talking about Cathy’s Curse. He talks about a lot of behind the scenes information, including the fact that this film was only made because the studio wanted to be able to pay less in taxes at the end of the year. The interview is conducted in French with English subtitles, and it is definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of the film at all.
Cathy & Mum: Interview with Actress Randi Allen and Costume Designer Joyce Allen (12:43) – Randi Allen plays the titular Cathy in this film, and though she was only about twelve years old when this was filmed, she has some fun stories from the set. Some of them are repeats of what director Matalon talks about in his interview, but it is still fun to hear her side of the story. Her mother was the costume designer for the film, but she doesn’t give a ton of information; it’s mostly about Randi, who is mostly interesting because she never really went on to do anything in the world of film. Another interview that is short and sweet, but enjoyable, if not terribly revelatory.
Audio Commentary on U.S. Cut – This commentary track is done by Brian Collins, of Horror Movie a Day fame that I mentioned earlier (and he is a film critic at BirthMoviesDeath), and his buddy who he introduced the film to, screenwriter Simon Barrett (who recently wrote Blair Witch). I love that Severin was able to get Collins for this track because he’s the most well-known champion of the film, and he’s talking with someone that he forced to watch it, who ended up loving it. The best part of the track is definitely Collins as he adds a lot of interesting information about his history with the movie. Barrett admittedly drags the track down a bit with his self-deprecating humor. Collins will be trying to give some factoid about the movie, and Barrett will interrupt to say that he apologizes that this isn’t a better commentary track. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed listening to this one all the way through, but someone who doesn’t know either of these guys might find it a bit more difficult to enjoy simply because of the fact that they apologize a lot, which is completely unnecessary because they’re actually being entertaining. These two are not experts on Cathy’s Curse, they’re just fans of the movie, and I appreciate that they never try to be anything more than that. They’re definitely not putting on airs, which is a plus. It’s just two friends talking about a movie that they both love while having some drinks, and if that appeals to you, then you’ll likely have as much fun with this track as I did.
Introduction to Cinematic Void Screening (4:28) – This is a short introduction to the film that was filmed before a screening of it at American Cinematheque. About half of it has two guys I didn’t know introducing Brian Collins (yes, he shows up here too), and the other half is Collins talking about his experience with the film. This is the most “throw-away” feature on the disc, and not something I imagine anyone watching more than once.
The theatrical trailer is also included, as well as a chapter selection screen for both cuts.
Cathy’s Curse is a film that will definitely appeal to a specific audience. That audience is admittedly limited, but if any of this sounds interesting to you, this Blu-ray release from Severin Films is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately I watched this film alone without alcohol, and that’s just not how to get the most enjoyment out of this one. If you can, watch this with friends who will appreciate all the “what the fuckery” that Cathy’s Curse has to offer, and this Blu-ray release is the best way to do that. For established fans of the movie, you’ll be ecstatic to see the new restoration, and the worthwhile special features that Severin has managed to throw in. Cathy’s Curse is one I look forward to busting out again when I have some willing, like-minded friends over that want to have a good time.
This Blu-ray will be released by Severin Films on April 11, 2017. This Blu-ray was purchased by Cinefessions at a convention, and was not provided by Severin for review purposes.