CATHY’S CURSE (a.k.a. CAUCHEMARES) is an awful movie and I love it. I love subjecting people to it. I love watching a smiling, hopeful face, eager for a night of entertainment, slowly melt into one of disappointment and abject nausea. How many times have I forced others to watch this celluloid catastrophe with me? How many friendships have come to a screeching halt due to my insistence that it be regularly viewed? Moreover, how many of those unwittingly indoctrinated, now lost souls, left my home stumbling, screaming into the night just like the unfortunate visitors to Cathy’s address?
If CATHY’S CURSE were just incompetent that would be one thing, but it goes far beyond that, it willfully defies rational thought. It laughs in the face of human comprehension. It dares you to follow its lead and then pushes you into a pit of mental strain that only those who have suffered severe head injuries could possibly understand. It’s really more of an endurance test than anything else because CATHY’S CURSE is cursed alright. There is something supremely unnatural about it. Maybe it is evil in its truest form, a black hole that tears to shreds the fabric of everything we believe to be natural and real and good. I have come to fear that the atrocity’s creation was no accident. If you handed a camera to a mentally disabled monkey, it could deliver a film that reflected something of what day-to-day life on earth was like. No, this is the handiwork of a diabolical madman.
On the surface it masquerades as just another child possession movie. You would think following the action would be simple as the ground it presumes to cover has been tread countless times before. Unfortunately, the “director” stubbornly insists on presenting us countless inconsistencies that go far beyond what viewers would be used to witnessing in a so-called “bad movie.” (Imagine a mean-spirited TROLL 2 and you’re not even half way there). The instances of counter logic are simply too frequent and too obvious to be a mistake. Why didn’t anyone stop them? Considering that the production involved at least as many adult humans as we see on the screen, I can’t help but wonder why no one had the wherewithal to intervene and inject at least a granule of sanity to the proceedings. Surely they had some inkling of what they were doing!? They HAD to know!
Maybe future generations will understand. Maybe visitors from outer space could decipher it. Is it an anarchistic treatise against cinema as a whole? An experimental Dadaist poem about the perils of puberty and the dismantling of the nuclear family? By exposing us to random images whose meanings are obtuse or non-existent, are we meant to experience first hand what it’s like to be as insane as the people who inhabit this film are?
I am afraid. I am afraid that death will be like CATHY’S CURSE. I am afraid that the curse-a-verse is something real, another dimension beyond or own, a place where only wrong things happen. I fear that only a wall as thin as an onionskin separates our two worlds and that slowly that world is being absorbed into our own. I look in the mirror, am I Cathy’s curse? Did I make this happen? Is this movie my punishment for unknown deeds in a previous life? Will it ever go away? If you have not seen it yet, do yourself a favor and stay away. Nobody deserves to live in this kind of turmoil. I am no different than a heroin addict. I know this wretched thing is killing me but life without it is now unimaginable. Me and Cathy are joined for life. She guides me to the abyss and I follow. Turn back gentle reader before it is too late!!!
Maybe it’s not the filmmakers’ fault that these title cards are so horribly cropped, but it is their fault that the information provided on them is made superfluous in two minutes thanks to a little thing called dialogue. I should also point out that although the main idea behind this story is that young Cathy becomes possessed through a doll, she shows obvious signs of possession even before she enters the house and discovers the so-called “filthy rag.”
“You know and I know that I have suffered a nervous breakdown, right?”
One person who is not about to let Cathy hog the limelight is this woman here. Every word out of her mouth is stilted and overemphasized and she sounds like CATHERINE O’HARA doing an impersonation of LIZ TAYLOR. While not even looking torward the direction of the window behind her, she declares, “Someone is watching me from the garden.” Her husband assures her it is probably just a dog or a cat.(?)
The attic is filled with the usual bric-a-brac, like this giant frog.
Agatha the medium has just relived the horrible car accident that burned two people alive and has been speaking in tongues and screaming into her hands in horror. When she leaves though, she is very chipper and suggests that they do it again sometime…
Cathy has just blown up a statue with her psychic powers, but she uses her good old hands to throw a bowl across the room when she enters the kitchen. This woman says, “It’s nothing, child” and proceeds to pick up two shards of the bowl and exclaim, “There, all done” while there is obviously a variety of even larger pieces still on the floor.
“It wasn’t until I got to the back of the house…that I realized where the screaming was coming from…And I looked up at the win…dow and I saw her fall… the dog was h-o-w-l-i-n-g!. There at the window…THAT DAMNED WINDOW… was my poor baby… I saw her there…MY BABY!”
All the food that Cathy is about to deliver her mother rots before our eyes! Don’t worry by the time it gets to Mom, it’s back to normal again!
One thing that this movie didn’t rip off from another movie is Cathy’s new found abilities to disappear and materialize at will. Her mother who witnesses this phenomenon on several occasions finds it aggravating rather than astonishing.
Blink and you’ll miss this cameo by the owl from CLASH OF THE TITANS!
Cathy and groundskeeper Paul are bad influences on each other. Cathy encourages Paul to drink and Paul encourages Cathy to call the psychic Agatha an “old bitch” a “fat whore” and a “fat dried up old whore.” Eventually Cathy has Paul hallucinating snakes, rats and a giant tarantula. Rumor has it that this relationship is loosely based on Stevie Nicks’ and Mick Fleetwood’s. Their off-putting alliance is severed when Paul tries to destroy the doll.
“Sneakers” the dog can’t get a break. It is suspected that he or she (it’s referred to as both) was poisoned, but this vet “Has never seen any type of poison that can produce these kinds of legions…never!”
“Well, if it isn’t the great medium herself! Medium? More like extra rare piece of shit!”
In this scene Agatha is verbally abused, ridiculed and laughed at by demonic voices and an aged doppelganger and warned never to speak of what she has seen or to return to the house ever again or else! The voice (is it Cathy’s grandfather?) even dares her to explain what she has just witnessed, a dare that could be applied to the viewer as well.
When mom returns from “the nut house,” her home will not allow her entrance. We see Cathy in “that damned window” again screaming with no voice. This is the first time we are lead to believe that Cathy may be in danger as well, something that becomes clearer later when the spirit tries to drown her in a lake. Don’t worry, not only is she pulled out from under the water in time, but she comes out completely dry!
After recently released mom’s bathtub fills with blood and she finds her back covered in leeches, we are treated to the sight of this guy. Who is he? A leech specialist? We’ll never know because he is shown leaving the house getting into his car and driving away without any word of explanation.
KELSEY GRAMMER-look-alike Dad periodically calls from a job of some sort that involves rolls of paper and hanging notes on the wall.
Eventually shit starts going down and Cathy completely flips and reveals her new oatmeal covered face and demands to be called Laura. Mom slinks right up to her and snags the doll. Then after a lot of exploding vases, Mom tears open the doll’s stitched together eyes and everything goes back to this insane clan’s version of normal.
There, I just saved you from a movie that has the potential to ruin your sense of well being forever. I should point out that there are slightly different versions in existence. My old VHS tape has a different opening that solves the needless opening text issue by showing you the title of the movie twice instead (?!). That version is bathed in a sickly orange glow. The DVD I used for the above images on the other hand is bathed in a sickly moss green hue. I should also warn you that this movie is so devious that it can disguise itself in order to enter your home. Do not be fooled!
Furthermore, if you are planning to escape CATHY’S CURSE by watching THE LITTLE GIRL THAT LIVES DOWN THE LANE you will be in for a shocking discovery. Both Mary, the world’s worst housekeeper and Agatha, the “Extra rare piece of shit,” appear in that film as menial workers bent on the destruction of JODIE FOSTER‘s awesome lifestyle.
The movie CATHY’S CURSE has been in the public domain for years and frequently appears in cheap horror compilation DVD sets. Thankfully the poor quality of these prints is usually enough to scare away the average innocent viewer before too much mental damage is done. Many of you may own a copy already and don’t even realize it. Like the cursed videotape in THE RING franchise, or the Silver Shamrock masks in HALLOWEEN 3, there is a virus like quality to the movie that threatens to go global. The wise among you will inspect their domicile for infestation and destroy any offending copies discovered. It’s too late for me, this I know like I know my own name. What was it again? It starts with an “L”…Laura?
Awesome review! I used to watch this a lot with an ex, and he always joked that Cathy looked a lot one of the Bush twins. I hate to say it, but he was right.
Just watched this over at FlickbyFlick ( http://flickbyflick.com/showflick.asp?moid=734 ) and had a few observations/memorable moments to share:
Opening and closing credits are overexposed to the point of unreadability.
Killed by a wabbit! (Looks just like the one which guards the cave of Kyre Banorg.)
Oscar Wilde-looking dad should go on the next Fathers Day “good dad” list; saves the day at the end – sort of; really knows how to take it up the ass, emotionally – when his batshit crazy wife snaps at him for a harmless comment he says, “Sorry, I guess I didn’t express myself too well.” Girls, here’s a guy who knows how to communicate with women!
Mom does a great job at portraying “they let her out of the institution WAY too soon”. Hard to tell if it’s true acting brilliance, horrible inconsistency, or if she was just checking with the director before each scene: “Am I doing ‘normal bitch’ in this next bit, ‘crazy batshit paranoid’, or ‘sickly sweet but could snap at any moment’?”
Cathy tries to poke out a playmate’s eyes with a nail and the girl’s mom grabs her children and leaves saying “Anyways, thanks for the coffee!”
Loved Ian Anderson’s dad as Paul, the handyman. By far the strongest performance in the film. His psyCathyically induced DTs is also the best scene in the film. Paul’s reaction to all the creepy-crawlies? Have another drink!
Cathy’s moonfaced possessed look. Cathy’s moonfaced telekinesis look. Cathy’s moonfaced little spoiled twat look.
Director was admirably budget-minded to shoot on WWII surplus film stock.
Two words: Jump cuts! Brilliantly evocative of 60s French Cinema Nouveaux.
The hilarious and heartwarming bloody jacket in the closet scene.
The electric razor that’s louder than a commercial jetliner.
The angriest biting of an apple since Shelly Winters.
The booze-shattering climax.
Definitely is the MONSTER A-GO-GO of horror films. Makes MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE and THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU look like Spielberg films.
Aunt John was saying Jenna Bush the whole time!!!!!!
“Anyways thanks for the coffee.” Is my new favorite line.
I do not even know how to approach the bloody coat scene, I don’t get it and I don’t know if I want to. Are they supposed to be jars of blood like some people think or just some kind of tonic?
Either way it makes zero sense and the way they laugh about it is so inappropriate and weird (just like the rest of the movie).
George did say the bottles in the closet were his dad’s tonic although to look that much like blood I would think they’d actually be bloodymary mix. Despite any overt alcoholism earlier in the film (aside from Paul/Aqualung/Groundskeeper Willie) I think ultimately the film did have a message as a true American tragedy: the multiple shots of the bottles on the cocktail cart exploding at the end. Oh, the humanity!!
For a head-scratchy “dream interpertation”(?) of CATHY’s CURSE:
No one is going to mention that Cathy looks positively “shit faced” by the end of the movie? Hahaha.
I too was sucker enough to buy that 50 Horror Movie pack for – whatever- 5 bucks? It was 5 bucks too much – cuz the only good movie in the whole crop was FUNERAL HOME (recommended!)
I would watch these terrible movies one after the other and my daughter – whow as probably 6 at the time – would walk in and out of the room – but one day when I was watching CATHY’S CURSE she actually came in the room and STAYED in the room and watched it without blinking. It had like a hypnotic hold over her (Was it the weird doll or what?) As if THAT wasn’t shocking enough a few weeks later my daughter said “What was that movie with the weird little girl and the doll?” and I had NO idea what she was talking about. I finally realized she was talking about CATHY’S CURSE and she she said “Yeah! You still have that? I wanna watch it again!” We watched it again and I think I slept with one eye open the next few weeks: There is just something so un-wholesome about a first grader wanting to watch a “film” like this over and over again!
By the way- I LOVE the plethora of Cover Art Options! My favorite would have to be the dominatrix chick who isn’t even IN the movie!!!!(How disappointed fella musta been when they rented THAT and got it home and found out it was about a little Child Of The Damned and her dolly!
I’m buying your kid a doll with sewn shut eyes for her birthday. Cathy’s Curse must live on!
I watched Dolly Dearest over the weekend. Not bad??? But I thought you would have a review of it, since I knew you were kind of obsessed with Cathy’s Curse.
Anyway, my Cathy’s Curse story:
As children, my girlfriend and I would always rent horror movies when we had sleepovers. We rented some real doozies, and Cathy’s Curse made a lasting impression! I always thought it had to be the “worst movie ever made”. Even after years of Mystery Science Theatre and channel 20 Saturday Matinees, I was convinced that Cathy’s Curse was the worst. Then my boyfriend and I had a worst-off contest. I show him my worst movie and he would show me his. No, Cathy’s Curse is NOT the worst movie ever made. His is, and it’s so bad, that I can’t remember the name or find any trace of it on the internet! It’s something really generic, like “The Haunted”, but it’s not any of the ones that comes up on imdb. I always want to call it “The Burning”, but that’s the halfway decent murder at camp movie.
Years ago, some villagers put a naked native American lady on a horse and send her to the desert to die because they think she’s a witch. Later some people live on a ranch that is maybe actually supposed to be a run-down movie set. Stuff happens. Or it doesn’t. It is boring and makes no sense. An icky old guy has sex. Someone spontaneously combusts in a phone booth. I think that is the picture on the cover of the video box and why I always want to call it The Burning.
I bought the Severin dvd and watched it the other day. They have done a good job and there is a nice interview with Randi Allen and her mother. I found only one problem. There is an interview with the director in French and for some reason the subtitles froze while he kept talking. He was explaining things but the English subtitles stalled.
jen3rabbits – the movie you are referring to is called Haunted. It is listed on the imdb here – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079273/ I used to own it on dvd and I can attest to the fact that it is a really bad movie. Former Hollywood stars Virginia Mayo and Aldo Ray went slumming in that one!
Does anyone else think that doll bears a bit of a resemblance to “L’il Poundcake” from RuPaul’s Drag Race?