Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cathy's Curse (1977)

... aka: Cauchemares
... aka: Maldición de Cathy, La
... aka: Maledetto sortilegio (Cursed Spell)
... aka: Nightmares
... aka: Une si gentille petite fille... (Such a Nice Girl...)
... aka: Venganza de Cathy, La (Cathy's Revenge)

Directed by:
Eddy Matalon

In 1947, a man (Peter MacNeill) discovers that his wife has run off and taken their five-year-old son George with her, but has left their daughter Laura (Linda Koot) behind. The man cheers the sobbing girl up by telling her "Your mother is a bitch! She'll pay for what she did to you!" and then loads her up in the car. On the way to... somewhere... he swerves to miss a rabbit, crashes, there's a fire and the two of them burn to death. Thirty-two years later, a now-grown George (Alan Scarfe) decides to move back into his childhood home, along with his annoying, neurotic wife Vivian (the intolerably awful Beverly Murray) and their young and equally annoying daughter Cathy (Randi Allen). All of this raises some interesting questions right off the bat, such as... 1. If George's father died 32 years ago, why didn't he and his mother just move back into - or better yet sell - the home? 2. Once George turned 18, why didn't he claim the inheritance? 3. Why has no one lived in the house for 32 years? 4. Who has been paying for the utilities / upkeep on the house for the past 32 years? 5. Who has been paying the live-in maid or the caretaker who've been tending to the place for the past 32 years? Trust me when I say this is just scratching the surface of the stupidity on display.

As soon as the family move in, Cathy begins behaving strangely. She sneaks into the attic and locates Laura's creepy doll, hears voices going "la la la la la," sees Laura's reflection staring back at her when she looks into the mirror, starts shrieking when the doll is taken away from her and throws her cereal bowl across the room against the wall, something the elderly maid (Mary Morter) oddly and cheerfully shrugs off ("It's nothing, don't worry about it!") instead of having a sensible reaction like, say, "WTF is wrong with you, you little psychopath?!" Doors and windows open and close by themselves. The pet Doberman won't stop barking and later turns up dead covered in strange lesions. The house starts shaking. When some neighborhood kids come over to play, Cathy uses them to stage a reenactment of the 1947 car crash, makes a boy say "All women are bitches!" and then tries to poke out a little girl's eyeball with a stick. And then people start dying. Well, a couple at least. First up is the maid, who gets tossed out the window to her death after finding Cathy's precious doll. Mom sees the incident and afterward Cathy terrorizes her until she's put "... back in the nuthouse where she belongs."

A medium (Dorothy Davis), who can see the past through inanimate objects, has visions of the fiery car crash when she picks up a picture of George's dad, but just leaves afterward without saying anything. When she returns for a later visit, Cathy drives her away by calling her an "old bitch" and a "fat, dried-up whore." Apparently having not had enough, the woman returns a third time and is scared off again when Cathy makes some cackling old woman materialize out of thin air to call her an "extra rare piece of shit" and a "filthy female cow." The psychic lady does not return after that. And if you think keeping a psychic around is difficult, try finding a babysitter for this foul-mouthed little twat! The best the family can do after a certain point is to leave her in the care of the handyman (Roy Witham); who's a nasty old drunk.

After becoming possessed, Cathy develops many other special abilities. She makes objects move at will, shakes the entire house and can even cause things to explode. She can also make people hallucinate. During one scene, she makes Paul envision snakes, rats and tarantulas are all around him. She then makes her mom freak out thinking she's in a bloodbath and covered in leeches. Not enough? Well, she can also disappear and reappear at will, perfectly impersonate voices and make food quickly spoil and become infested with worms and maggots simply by staring at it. Before she knocks the maid out the window, she speaks in a deep male voice, but never again for the rest of the movie. It is never established whether the ghost of Laura wants revenge on George, wants to return to life via Cathy or just what it is exactly she is hoping to accomplish. The ghost even attempts to make Cathy drown herself in a lake at one point. Why she'd kill off her host body when she seems to be having a ball torturing everyone is one of many things that doesn't make a lick of sense.

Cathy's Curse is a terrible film. I mean a really terrible film. I could go into great detail about how awful it is but I don't have ten additional paragraphs in me right now. Best I can say is that it provides a few laughs (all unintentional, of course), just not nearly enough to make this worth sitting through. To makes matters worse, the only available English-language print on the market is in awful shape: blurry, horribly damaged and with this ugly faded discoloration that makes it look like someone took a piss all over the film's negative prior to it being transferred to tape. Having lapsed into the public domain, every other company under the sun has issued this same lousy print on DVD so it's easy to find in multi-packs for cheap or on various sites to view for free. Even f.o.c., you may still want your money back. The French (Une si gentille petite fille = "Such a Nice Girl") and Spanish (La maldición de Cathy) language versions are reportedly better-looking prints. Some releases contain a few extra minutes of footage. The one I viewed ran 82 minutes.

Shot in Montreal under the title Cauchemares ("Nightmares") in the winter of 1976, the budget was around 750,000 dollars. 21st Century released this theatrically in the U.S. in 1980.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...