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9.6.14

Cathy's Curse (1977)




Directed by Eddy Matalon
Starring Alan Scarfe, Beverly Murray, Randi Allen, Roy Witham
Public Domain

Abysmal Canadian horror flick that attempts to mimic THE EXORCIST and CARRIE with disastrous results. The writing, acting, directing, editing, photography, and sound are so mind-bogglingly terrible, so amazingly inept that the film is almost surreal in its awfulness.
In a poorly constructed prologue, a family is in the midst of a breakup. The mother has taken the son and split, leaving the daughter with her drunk husband. Dad and daughter get in the car to track down the mom, swerve to avoid a bunny, and end up in a fiery crash that kills both of them.

Years later, the son has grown up and moves his own family into the childhood home. His young daughter Cathy finds a creepy doll (with eyes sewn shut) in the attic, and things start getting weird. Cathy develops strange powers; she can teleport around the house, make objects explode and/or fly through the air, and can induce hallucinations of worms and bugs in people she doesn’t like. She also develops the ability to use swear words with the finesse of a long shoreman, which she demonstrates as often as possible.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad don’t seem to notice any of this, even after Cathy throws a housekeeper out of the second story window. In fact, nobody is this movie reacts to anything the way a normal human being would. The neighborhood medium shows up and has a full-blown ghost freakout in the Gimble’s dining room. A moment later, nobody, not even the medium, acts as if anything happened. In another scene, Cathy uses her powers to smash a plate against the wall. The housekeeper, who watches this happen, acts as if it were an accident. Even more maddening, the housekeeper says, “It’s all cleaned up,” when we can plainly see that the shards are still on the floor. Maintaining continuity, or even attempting to make sense, wasn’t a big concern for director Eddy Matalon.

The highlight of the movie comes when Cathy gets drunk with Paul, the crusty old groundskeeper. Paul tells Cathy the doll is possessed by an evil force and must be destroyed. Cathy responds with more cursing and hallucinations of bugs and snakes on Paul’s dinner plate. This scene is no more technically competent than the rest of the movie, but it stands out for its sheer weirdness.


If you make it to the final act you’ll get to see more dolls and toys being hoisted by wires, the world’s loudest electric razor, and Cathy in some terrible gloppy brown makeup. Is it worth the effort? Probably not. In fact, it’s an endurance test due to the truly irritating sound and the horrible quality of the print. The version I watched (from a Mill Creek collection) had a nauseating yellow tint that looks like it had been preserved in a vat of hobo urine, and the sound track sent my cat skittering out of the room several times.

CATHY’S CURSE is so bad it’s almost offensive. The movie was financed through a Canadian film program, aka the Canadian tax payer. There should have been a revolt. The one bright spot in all of this is the fact that the movie is in the public domain, and can be watched on Youtube or the Internet Archive.

Oh well, I’ll just post it here. You’ve been warned......






A Public Ransom (2014)




Directed by Pablo D'Stair
Starring Carlyle Edwards, Helen Bonaparte, Goodloe Byron
https://apublicransom.wordpress.com/

Steven, a hack writer of questionable integrity, stumbles upon a strange "missing" poster. Sensing there might be an exploitable story involved, he decides to call the number scrawled at the bottom of the crudely drawn poster. The call leads to a weird meeting with another writer named Bryant. Steven wants to know more about the missing kid; Bryant seems to want to know more about Steven. Before it's over, Bryant will get to know Steven VERY well, and Steven will become the unwitting collaborator in Bryant's newest tale.

Made with three actors, one camera, and no money, A PUBLIC RANSOM was a real surprise. The story at the heart of the film is a compelling one, and Pablo D'Stair does a solid job of allowing the mystery to slowly unfold. The movie is mostly told in static shots and one-sided phone conversations, but D'Stair manages to avoid monotony and maintains a good pace throughout. My only criticism involves the main character, Steven. Calling him a self-centered prick is an understatement; if he's not verbally abusing his wife, he's mooching off his lady-on-the-side (Helen Bonaparte). It's hard to care about him when things start getting heavy in the second act. On the other hand, it does make it a little more rewarding when Bryant's scheme starts to wreck Steven's life.

This microbudgeted indie feature was filmed in Gaithersberg, Maryland. It has a great soundtrack (including the Detroit Cobras, Bellflur, and Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez) and features more cigarette smoking than any film in recent memory. It's a good example of what intelligent and talented people can do with minimal resources. Pablo D'Stair is someone worth keeping an eye on.

You can watch the movie for free online. Go to https://apublicransom.wordpress.com/ and enter the password "pransom."