One of the great disappointments of my life is that I could not take any part in the Blu-ray for Shocker; they had someone else moderate the commentary and one actor refused to sign his release for video of the Q&A I hosted at a screening and thus it couldn't be used. Because as a mere fan and not a filmmaker or even an accredited journalist, there aren't exactly a lot of Blu-rays I could conceivably find myself on to validate all the time I've spent championing these movies - if they need a mega fan of Halloween or The Thing, they certainly have better options. And besides Shocker, there's really only one movie that anyone would ever think to find me on, and that would be Cathy's Curse - and there's no way in hell there's ever going to be a Cathy's Curse Blu-ray!
Or so I thought. By some miracle, as of today you can order a bona fide remastered Blu-ray of this cult oddity courtesy of the heroes at Severin Films, which will forever end the need for the horrible DVD copies (all sourced from VHS) that have had to suffice for myself and other Cathy fans for the past few decades. And not only is it remastered, but it's a special edition, and - I still can't quite believe this - I am featured on two of them, providing a commentary track (along with Simon Barrett, who has been a fan almost as long as I have) and also popping up in an intro to the film that I rambled my way through at the Cinematic Void screening that was held at the Egyptian last fall. But fear not - they also got some people who actually made the film to provide new interviews about their experience! So if you love the film but don't give two shits about what I think about it, you can skip over my contributions* and still get your money's worth, as the interview with Cathy herself, Randi Allen, as well as a separate one with director Eddy Matalon are definitely worth your time.
At some point during the drunken chat with Simon and I, you might hear me make reference to Matalon's own commentary track, which does not exist. This was just some confusion on my part, as at the time we recorded our thoughts I thought he was doing a commentary, not an interview. Had I known ours would be the only additional audio track, I probably would have tried to offer more legitimate insight and trivia about the film instead of talking about how I discovered it (via Horror Movie A Day, exactly ten years ago this week, oddly enough), rather than assume you'd get your fill of actual information from the writer/director. To make up for this blunder, I hereby offer a Collins' Crypt rarity: an interview! Not only do I generally dislike interviewing people over the phone (suffering through a transcription aside, it just severely limits my more conversational style, as you're constantly having to pause, repeat yourself, etc.) but it's also usually quite difficult for me to work in this kind of thing around my day job. It's one thing for your boss to catch you looking at Facebook or something, it's another to be on the phone talking to the director of a Canadian Exorcist ripoff while they're paying you.
But as luck would have it, Eddy is in France, several hours ahead of us, and so what was a good time for him was actually long before I would have to go to work, and thus I was able to talk to him on the phone from the comfort of my own home, with my giant poster of "Maledetto sortilegio" (Cathy's Italian title) looking down on me as I talked to the man, the myth. We spoke for about twenty minutes, but two big chunks of the interview were unusable due to poor recording (probably my fault, again, I don't do this much). Luckily, most of what he talked about during these chunks is also covered on his interview, and I was able to get a few nuggets that fans of the film will enjoy that he didn't get into on the Blu-ray. So enjoy what I was able to pull out of our conversation!
What was your reaction when you heard that they were putting this Blu-ray together?
I was amazed! (laughs) The film is quite old, 1976, and certainly, I don't know why... [garbled, the gist is that he's surprised it's suddenly getting a new lease on life, and I believe he says that they are showing it at the French Cinematheque]. But it was a good surprise as it is an old film.
How did the script originate? There are three writers credited on it, so I was curious who did what.
Well Alain Sens-Cazenave is my assistant, and I thought it would be good to have his name on a film, so he was credited. And then the other girl, Myra Clément, was the one who did the translation.
So you pretty much wrote the entire film yourself then?
Let's talk about Randi Allen, who played Cathy. I looked her up and it doesn't look like she has ever made another movie. Did she audition or was she somebody you knew that you thought had the right look, or...?
They had sent me a lot of photos, young people to play the role, and they sent Randi. She was ten I believe at that time, so she was a very good choice because we were looking for a girl of about eight, so she was more mature. She understood quickly what I wanted. She's really good; she did nothing before that, nothing on film or stage or wherever. It's a big part, the most important part of the film. And because it was a horror type of film, I was a little bit afraid with the direction of the little girl when she did the bizarre things or put on the makeup. I explained to her "It's a movie, it's a game!" and she took it very well. And her mother was with her the whole time; she was the costume designer, so she was always there.
Do you remember the design for the doll? Was it a doll you found or was it specifically designed for the film?
No it was made by the Canadian man who was in charge of art direction [Fernand Durand, if the credits are correct]. It was a real doll and he adapted it. We didn't have the money for special effects, there were no computers then... we had to be creative and get things done fast.
Do you still have the doll or is it gone?
No... I don't live too much in the past. I still work, I'm still producing films, and I love remembering the past and talking about it, but I don't keep things like that.
The film was cut for the United States, it was shortened by about ten minutes of footage. Were you involved in this re-editing, or do you know why these scenes were cut?
No no no... I didn't agree to that. I was very surprised and shocked. I knew nothing about that. I'm sure that what Severin is doing now is a good thing, they will redo the film the way it was; it will look for you as it looked to us.
I looked at your filmography, and it doesn't seem like you ever made any other horror films? Are you a fan of the genre?
No, this was my only one. After that, the market turned to gore films, and I don't care for those. I have one I want to do, which is more psychological, not special effects and gore. The films where it's just blood all of the time, it's not for me.
How do you feel about Cathy's Curse now?
I don't like to watch my older films, but I love it. It was a very good remembrance, all the actors, the success of the film and the fact that so many younger audiences loved the film... I actually have a story! Last summer I met some younger people and we were talking and they asked "Are you Eddy Matalon who made Cathy's Curse?" I thought he was joking with me, but he said "No no no I love your film, I have all these things about the film, would you give me a souvenir from the film..." The guy was 25, 26, and I asked him why he liked the film and he said because it's different. It has elements of these other films, but it's very much unique. I'm very pleased that people like you are fans of the film, it's a very good surprise. Thank you very much for that.
As I mentioned, the chat was longer - Eddy also discussed the film's origins as a Canadian tax-shelter project (one that was greenlit in November and had to be completed by Christmas) and recounted a story about the opening car crash, which had to be done without scratching the car. I was crushed when I played the recording back and found out how much of it was impossible to transcribe due to the audio glitches (I could hardly understand myself, next to the recorder, let alone the man speaking over a tinny phone speaker), but again, you can at least hear these stories on the Blu-ray. I assume anyone reading this interview is also the same type of person who would be buying it, after all.
It really means the world to me that Severin has allowed me to be a part of this disc. I've been championing this movie for a full decade now, and I truly never believed it would ever get a proper release due to the declining interest in physical media. I mean, we still don't have Blu-rays for a few James Cameron and Martin Scorsese films - what chance did an obscure Canadian killer kid have? I've mentioned before that labels like Severin are doing truly important work by preserving these films properly instead of letting them fall through the cracks and eventually lost forever, and this is a fine example of that sort of dedication. And yes, the film isn't exactly a classic or "perfect movie", but that's irrelevant. It makes me and (hopefully for Severin's sake) thousands of other people happy, and every movie deserves a proper presentation. I think every movie fan, especially horror fans, have these kind of "pet" favorites that just sync up to their sensibilities, where their flaws (in this case, some sluggish pacing and baffling edits) simply don't matter, and I truly hope everyone gets to see their own personal ones get this kind of love. I am blessed, because mine are Shocker and Cathy's Curse, and now I have special editions of both. One's just a little more special!
*I also recreated the clumsily written on-screen text cards that appear in the film's US cut, which exist to (poorly) explain the scenes that were excised for reasons unknown. And yes, even though no one in the world would possibly care, I sat there for hours trying to match the exact spacing on the letters, using the blurry/cropped VHS sourced DVD as my guide. You're welcome.