NIGHTMARE CONCERT (A CAT IN THE BRAIN) (1990) Reviews and overview

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Nightmare Concert (A Cat in the Brain) is a 1990 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci (The House by the Cemetery; Zombie Flesh Eaters; A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Giovanni Simonelli and Antonio Tentori.

Nightmare Concert is one of Fulci’s final films and is notable for self-reflexively summing up his career. The film is a meta-film in which the director appears playing himself, a tortured horror filmmaker who is driven by the violent visions that he experiences both behind the camera and off the set.

Feeling like he’s losing his grip on reality and disturbed by murderous fantasies, Fulci consults a psychotherapist. The “shrink” exploits the director’s vulnerabilities to his own murderous ends.

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Juxtaposing gory horror clips from several of his own recently horror films that he either directed and/or produced, Fulci shot a wrap-around segment and used Vincenzo Tomassi’s film editing (as well as his own voice over) to create the storyline – a personal insight into the effects of horror filmmaking on the psyche. The resulting film was composed almost entirely in post-production. The wrap-around segments featuring Fulci were largely shot in and around Rome’s famous Cinecittà Studios.


“Most of the gore effects are pretty shoddy, but they’re so over-the-top that they tend to nauseate regardless (naturally, the film was banned in the U.K. for a number of years). The acting (especially when watching the English language version) is mostly laughable, though Fulci is fascinating to watch as himself in a series of ambiguous routines.” DVD Drive-in

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“Fulci keeps the feature trashy, spotlighting nudity and sex with loving detail, and there’s enough unexplained events to blur concentration on the production’s limitations, finding a few violent outbursts merely hinted at. It’s wildly silly stuff at times, but there’s a darkness to Cat in the Brain that’s convincing, even when pieces of this puzzle are never meant to join together.”

You might find yourself, like I did, wondering what the point is. But the more time you spend with Cat in the Brain, the more it grows on you. Fulci’s work in front of the camera becomes more interesting, the humor in his performance and in the dialogue more obvious and more biting and the whole vibe a bit more playful, despite the fact that, yeah, it’s clearly malicious. This isn’t the man’s best film, not by a wide margin, but it’s certainly one of his more interesting.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“Chainsaw eviscerations, decapitations, piano-wire throat slashings, intestines being fed to ravenous pigs, eye-gougings, masses of T&A, graphic knifings, tongue-rippings… all and much more are present and correct. And I mean much more!” Chas Balun’s Deep Red

“Although punctuated by grisly visions of death, putrefaction and dismemberment, the mood of the film is almost as facetious as The Touch of Death. The insane psychiatrist Swharz (David L. Thompson) exhibits the same sort of maniacal glee as Halsey in the earlier film. His risible amalgam of ‘crazy’ grins and goggle-eyed mirth squanders what could have been an interesting idea.” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

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“Newcomers to Fulci will definitely wonder what the fuss is about: the acting is uniformly terrible, the visuals are crude at best, and Fabio Frizzi’s score awkwardly mixes new muzak compositions with excerpts from his past glory days (mainly The Beyond). Scene for scene, this may be Fulci’s goriest film, and this aspect alone has earned it some fan loyalty; on another level, it’s a bizarre cry for understanding…” Mondo Digital

“It’s all very nasty stuff, that even heavy use of Edvard Grieg’s classical-music hit “In the Hall of the Mountain King” can’t serve as a reliable salve. It really is like a proto-Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but one that most video viewers won’t have the stomach to take. I can’t say I really blame them.” Flick Attack

Cast and characters:

Lucio Fulci as Himself
Brett Halsey as Human Monster [footage from Touch of Death]
David L. Thompson as Professor Egon Swharz
Jeoffrey Kennedy as Officer Gabrielli
Malisa Longo as Katya Schwarz
Ria De Simone as Sopran [footage from Touch of Death]
Sacha Darwin as Woman in the oven [footage from Touch of Death]
Robert Egon as Himself/Second Human Monster [footage from Ghosts of Sodom]

Filming locations:

Rome, Italy

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