UPDATE: Due to a malfunction in the smaller screening room, Cathy's Curse will now be shown at 10:30pm on Saturday night instead of the originally scheduled 7:30. However, it will now be in the bigger theater at the Egyptian! Cathy will be bigger than ever!
April 10th, 2007 was a day that started off like any other with regards to Horror Movie A Day, which was only two months old at that time. Without a theatrical feature or prominent new DVD release at my disposal, I pulled out my trusted "Chilling Classics" DVD set from Mill Creek and picked a movie more or less at random to make the day's quota. This was the set's primary use; the transfers were all bad and the majority of the movies not much better, but when I just needed SOMETHING to keep the streak going, it was invaluable. But that day would prove to be an important one, as my random pick set the bar high for such fare - for the movie I chose was none other than Cathy's Curse, a film that's name is almost literally synonymous with my own (meaning: up until a few weeks ago, if you were to look at mentions of the film's title on Twitter, 90% of them were either me or someone talking to me). As HMAD became more of a drain on both my time and my spirits, I kept my enthusiasm up by hoping (praying?) that I would find another film on the same level, like an addict forever seeking the thrill of that first high.
Alas, I never did.
But if you've seen it, you'd probably agree that such hopes were impossible anyway - there literally IS nothing like Cathy's Curse (né Cauchemares, the Canadian title that translates to "Nightmares"), because it takes a very specific combination of elements to create such a uniquely odd film. Abhorrent editing, out-of-nowhere plot turns, and inhuman dialogue ("You and I both know I had a nervous breakdown!") join forces to form what became one of my go-to titles to recommend to people over the years, even over legitimately great horror films. Its public domain status meant it was fine to just watch on YouTube or what have you, especially since there wasn't a single good version out there anywhere, something that has been the bane of my existence over the years. The film was cropped so poorly that its expository on-screen text that set up the plot was missing words, and the BEST quality version I was ever able to find was sourced from a VHS and seemingly duplicated at least once before finding its way to my eyeballs, making the colors washed out and the audio garbled. It kind of added to the movie's charms, but I would constantly scour message boards and DVD review comment sections looking for evidence that there was at least a pretty decent version floating around.
As a backup to these fruitless hunts, I would often press anyone who would listen for a 35mm screening (if a print could be found) and/or a remastered Blu-ray release, not just so I could have something better to point people towards, but so I myself could enjoy seeing the film properly for a change. I got my wish for a 35mm screening a couple years ago courtesy of Phil Blankenship and the Cinefamily, a screening that turned several people into fellow fans, but obviously that didn't help the billions of people who weren't there. Then, earlier this year, some good news broke: Severin had gotten the rights and would indeed be putting out a remastered Blu-ray, with bonus features and a new transfer of the uncut version of the film, which restores some scenes that help make the movie make SLIGHTLY more sense.
(I was almost kind of sad when I first saw the movie with these moments added back, because it fixed some of the jarring editing I had always chalked up to mere incompetence, but rest assured there's still plenty of that left "intact".)
This longer version is the one that will be showing this Saturday, September 18th at the Egyptian Theater here in LA, courtesy of the ongoing Cinematic Void series and co-presented by Severin and Alamo Drafthouse LA. It will be shown on DCP and will give fans a preview of what to expect from the Blu-ray when it comes out (the exact date for the disc still hasn't been set). Since all of the film's participants are either in Canada or Paris, the special guest for the screening will be... me! Actually I will be co-hosting, explaining a lot of what I just wrote above and letting local horror fans share what will be the highlight of my life (OK, tied with the birth of my son, I GUESS). As the Cinefamily screening was of the cut print (and also part of an all-secret marathon lineup), this will be the first time the uncut film has likely been shown anywhere in the US in the past 35 years. Even better, James Branscome of Cinematic Void posted some shots of the DCP tech check, and even those pics, taken from (presumably) a cell phone camera shot of the screen, looked more pristine than any version I've ever come across. Who knew Cathy had individual strands of hair instead of some shapeless mass on top of her head?
Tickets are very nearly sold out, so if you're in town and want to see what the hell I've been talking about for nearly a decade (Christ...), head over to Fandango RIGHT NOW and grab one before they're gone. I will be giving away a copy of my book at the show (naturally, Cathy's Curse is given a prime slot in its pages), and hopefully with a full audience we can all put our heads together and figure out how exactly anyone ever came up with the DVD cover that you can see below, because if you've seen the film you'd know that artwork goes far beyond mere "false advertising" into a realm that may not even have a term. And definitely keep Cinematic Void on your radar, as they do lots of great screenings like this throughout the year and will certainly not disappoint with their programming as the Halloween season ramps into high gear.
I mean, those other shows won't be as good as Cathy's Curse, but is anything?