The 1970s brought us some extremely iconic and influential horror films, with CARRIE and THE EXORCIST being two of the biggest. With young girls as the focal point for both films, it didn’t take long for us to see other productions tap into that vulnerability to shake us all to our core, with such notable “rip-offs” as ABBY and the Canadian exploitation cult favorite, CATHY’S CURSE. This latter film takes a little from both CARRIE and THE EXORCIST, and blends it into its own delirious and fun psychokinetic smoothie that you won’t soon forget. And thanks to Severin Film, we now have ready access to it as it hits Blu-Ray for the first time and hasn’t looked better!
CATHY’S CURSE begins with a brief written explanation stating how the mother of a family decided to leave, taking her son with her, but leaving her husband and daughter. Cut to the father racing home, grabbing his daughter, while screaming expletives about his wife, we can immediately see why the wife would want to leave. He appears to be quick to temper, vulgar without thought of his surroundings, and a brash driver as well. Sadly, his driving abilities turn out to be his downfall as he swerves to miss an animal in the road. After crashing, the car is engulfed in flames, and he and his daughter are unable to escape.
The story jumps ahead almost forty years as the son, all grown up, moves back to his original house with a family of his own. His mother has passed on, and the house has been kept up by a housekeeper and handyman, but George (Alan Scarfe) is ready to make this his home while his construction business is taking off. Worried about the transition, his wife Vivian (Beverly Murray) is concerned about their daughter, Cathy (Randi Allen), who seems all too comfortable in her new surroundings.
Cathy soon becomes possessed with the ghost of her long dead aunt, and it appears the meanness and vulgarity of her dead grandfather rubbed off a little as well. Being left alone with the housekeeper and handyman, she develops psychokinetic powers, and starts to use them to torment those in charge of her safety. Where things go from here, you know things are going to intense. And when Cathy starts getting the handyman drunk, it just gets disturbing.
Ethan Embry, star of EMPIRE RECORDS and CHEAP THRILLS, has recently mentioned (on both Movie Crypt and Splathouse podcasts) that he finds it disturbing that so many people get up in arms when they viewed a dog being harshly treated on the set of A DOG’S PURPOSE; yet child actors go through even worse treatment in order to create the entertainment level expected. Horror movies, and even dramas, put young actors through an amazing amount of stressors in order to portray fear, anxiety, and the effects of trauma. This film has our child lead cursing up a storm, hanging around an old drunk, and forcing people out of windows with her mind. Not exactly the easiest things to shake off. However, as we learn in the special features, her mother was on set, working as wardrobe, and young Randi thought if it all as a big game of pretend. Had she performed in more films or TV shows, that game may have fallen away into long standing effects, but CATHY’S CURSE is her sole credit, and judging from the interview with her and her mother, she turned out extremely well balanced.
Despite the bonkers concept behind the film, the overall performances of all involved, including that of young Randi Allen’s is done very solidly. There is one exception to this however, and that being that of Beverly Murray as Vivian. Having just recovered from a mental breakdown, her character is the one we must side with as Cathy slips ever farther into psychic evil. Is she experiencing another episode or is her daughter truly becoming possessed? That’s the position we should be considering. However, Murray has no gray area in her performance. She is either docile as a catatonic patient, or in a manic frenzy. Without that nuance, it is hard to sympathize with her as her character deals with her struggles.
Included on the disc, we also get a fan commentary from filmmaker Simon Barrett (YOU’RE NEXT) and Horror Movie A Day’s Brian Collins. Collins discovered this film in his original run of his blog, and has been a die hard fan of the film since. Hell, his constant recommendation of it was how I first heard of the film in the first place. We also are privileged to have this release include both the director’s cut of the film and the alternate US cut, which I prefer the latter as it flows more fluidly and comes in at a brisk under 80 minute run time. Both are presented in a new 2K scan, so the insanity comes at you in a fashion much clearer than previous bootlegs and budget DVD releases have had.
George Gimble: Alan Scarfe (LETHAL WEAPON 3)
Vivian Gimble: Beverly Murray (EAST END HUSTLE, CRAZY MOON)
Cathy Gimble: Randi Allen
Director: Eddy Matalon (BLACKOUT, SWEET KILLING)
Writers: Myra Clément, Eddy Matalon, Alain Sens-Cazenave (2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK)