Confessions of a Psycho Cat
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Because she's in the middle of a mental breakdown, Virginia can't join her brother on safari and decides to go big game hunting in the Big Apple instead. Inviting three strangers to her trophy room--an actor, a junkie, and a wrestler (played by boxing legend Jake La Motta!)--she offers them $100,000 each if they can stay alive in Manhattan for 24 hours. With twisted violence, macabre humor, and lots of gratuitous skin, "Confessions of a Psycho Cat" is a delirious, out-of-its-mind instant cult classic!
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Psycho Cat begins as wealthy Manhattanite Virginia, whose just seen her big-game-hunter husband off at the airport, is having a "nervous breakdown," followed by framing scenes of a petting party (which were added several years after the rest of the movie was shot) where everyone, including one really 'uptight' chick ... is waiting for a narcotics delivery. Mild nudity ... , "simulated" foreplay, and herb-smoking are featured, all to some twangy, loungy background music. When the junkie procurer (the only link to the central story) arrives, he's been shot in the leg with a crossbow, though everyone seems more concerned about whether he's "got the stuff." He relates In flashback how he'd been invited to a "fancy apartment" (decorated in animal skins, African artifacts, and numerous mounted animals and heads) along with two other men, an actor and a former pro wrestler. They're presented with a deal by Virginia: if they can stay alive for 24 hours in Manhattan while she literally hunts them down, each will collect $100,000. (They're "animals" to her because they've all been acquitted of murder for various reasons.) Boxer Jake LaMotta plays the wrestler, who accepts, croaking "You don't have a chance. I get in close, I'll break you in half." Virginia visits her shrink and screams, "Killing is bad!" as she recalls how her brother threw her doggy off the roof when they were kids. (The doctor asks if she's been taking her pills.) She then arranges a "comeback" performance for the actor, stalks him at the theater, and kills him with a spear.Read more ›
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Psycho Cat begins as wealthy Manhattanite Virginia, whose just seen her big-game-hunter husband off at the airport, is having a "nervous breakdown," followed by framing scenes of a petting party (which were added several years after the rest of the movie was shot) where everyone, including one really `uptight' chick ... is waiting for a narcotics delivery. Mild nudity ... , "simulated" foreplay, and herb-smoking are featured, all to some twangy, loungy background music. When the junkie procurer (the only link to the central story) arrives, he's been shot in the leg with a crossbow, though everyone seems more concerned about whether he's "got the stuff." He relates In flashback how he'd been invited to a "fancy apartment" (decorated in animal skins, African artifacts, and numerous mounted animals and heads) along with two other men, an actor and a former pro wrestler. They're presented with a deal by Virginia: if they can stay alive for 24 hours in Manhattan while she literally hunts them down, each will collect $100,000. (They're "animals" to her because they've all been acquitted of murder for various reasons.) Boxer Jake LaMotta plays the wrestler, who accepts, croaking "You don't have a chance. I get in close, I'll break you in half." Virginia visits her shrink and screams, "Killing is bad!" as she recalls how her brother threw her doggy off the roof when they were kids. (The doctor asks if she's been taking her pills.) She then arranges a "comeback" performance for the actor, stalks him at the theater, and kills him with a spear. Now totally unhinged, Virginia phones LaMotta, shrieking into the receiver, stringy hair clinging to her twisted face. LaMotta screams back, "You got no right! I am Rocko, Rocko the champ! I'll kill ya, I'm coming to get ya!" His whiny call-girl taunts him, then french-kisses her own bored reflection in the hotel mirror. Virginia, dressed as a toreador, tracks Jake down, stabs him to death with banderillas as he scrabbles across the cement like a literal "raging bull," then bows to hallucinated cheers and applause. Returning to the party, the junkie finishes his story, unwisely leaves, scores, then shoots up and hurls in an Automat toilet stall. Virginia eventually catches up to him with a crossbow arrow to the neck. When hubby returns home, summoned by the shrink, he finds her sitting on the floor with a dolly in her arms, her victims trussed up like "kills" in the closet. "Do you love me now, daddy?" The movie ends on a shot of straitjacket-bound Virginia, shrieking behind the glass partition of an asylum door. Psycho Cat is a dark, disturbing, funny, terribly entertaining, surprisingly competent piece of grunge, blending elements of The Most Dangerous Game with mild pre-MPAA nudity, gritty `60s B&W grindhouse atmosphere and violence, and some of the best dialogue since Faster Pussycat. Eileen Lord (no other film credits!!) is unforgettably over-the-top as Virginia, she has to be seen to be believed.
Hot Blooded Woman is an astoundingly poverty-stricken ... psychodrama from lingerie fetishist auteur producer Whit Boyd (Spiked Heels and Black Nylons) and ... director Dale Berry (The Girl and the Geek), and "introducing" Shirley (producer's wife?) Boyd. It's shot mostly without sync sound and features some of the most bizarre names ever in the credits. It opens with apparent nymphomaniac Myrtle being willingly molested by Bill (Larry Buchanan regular) Thurman after taunting a group of hobos camped near a railroad track. Hubby comes to the rescue, first beating, then being beaten by the attacker. Unfortunately, and continuing through the entire movie, any dramatic tension that might have been engendered is completely undercut by the inappropriate and maddeningly repetitious soundtrack, (one annoying vibes/drums/guitar number is repeated perhaps a half dozen times!) Hubby takes her to a psychiatrist ("I'll never forget this girl; this pathetic, loveless, miserably sick, Myrtle Pennypacker") and his cat-eye-glasses-wearing "faithful nurse and assistant, Miss Couch." Under hypnosis, Myrtle reveals in flashback how the couple's sex life was normal at first (signified by making out in their underwear to jazzy pop music). "Then came the first clouds" as hubby rejects her advances on their wedding night (!?), upon which she grabs a huge kitchen knife and stabs the bed, while he watches, horrified, from the closet. She then heads out in her hot pants to go-go dance wildly at the local bar as the (integrated) Tony Harrison Trio belts out "Hot Blooded Woman." Later, a cat fight ensues while customers gawk after a waitress in a diner tries to pick up Myrtle's hubby with the immortal line "You have the cutest earlobes." (Once again, the upbeat grocery-store jazz on the soundtrack defuses any chance for real drama.) Wife and hubby spend lots of time "carpet-crawling" (sometimes with a white toy poodle wedged between them) but there's little payoff: Ms. Boyd never actually exposes anything, despite numerous shots of her dressing, undressing, and walking around or dancing in her underwear or negligee (I honestly think this was aimed at lingerie fetishists), and "sex" is signified by close-ups of Myrtle licking her lips. Suddenly, we're with Ruby, who spends about 10 minutes hanging out, going to the bathroom, mixing a drink, smoking a cigarette, getting naked, and bathing, before calling Myrtle to inform her about "that little Spanish [woman of easy virtue]" her hubby's been playing around with, and the fact that Myrtle's sister is "shacking up" with him as well. "Only because I like you so much." When confronted, hubby keeps changing his story, smacks Myrtle around a bit, and takes her back to the psychiatrist. As the shrink, deep in thought, obscures the frame, Myrtle disrobes behind him, laughing maniacally! "There was no longer any doubt in my mind. This girl needed treatment." She's carted off in a straitjacket under sedation to a sanitarium where an inmate nurses a rolled-up towel. Myrtle escapes and stops to pray to Jesus in a grotto, steals a handgun from a junkyard guard, and dies in a hail of (silent) police gunfire while holding the pistol on her hubby and telling him "I love you." For serious barrel-scrapers this movie is a joy to behold: the dubbing is atrocious (lips move with no sound; sound happens with no lips), continuity errors and unflattering camera angles abound, and the disjointed, fitful flow of the narrative (boldly flaunting the fundamental rules of story construction and film editing) creates a spellbinding, dreamlike, jaw-dropping, utterly unique experience. Whit Boyd and Dale Berry need a cult like Doris Wishman's. (They both have cameos in here somewhere.)
Extras include a fistful of sex/sleaze trailers (the standouts: Ride the Wild Pink Horse [Looks great, but not available from SW yet], Spoiled Rotten, Come Play with Me, and the legendary Olga's House of Shame) and a 29-minute B&W Federal Security Agency Public Health Service short, "Preface to a Life", the vague premise of which seems to be that unrealistic and conflicting parental pressures, expectations, and neuroses cause us all to grow up nuts. It's a little dry, but stick with it, it gets better. Also included is another Trash-O-Rama art gallery featuring cool advertising promos for The Love Cult, The Lonely Sex, and Mundo Depravados, among many others. Print quality on both features ranges from very good to excellent throughout (Psycho Cat fares better overall) and quite watchable. There is the usual minor speckling and blemishing, but otherwise they look quite good considering their pedigree. Unfortunately, Hot Blooded Woman has the SWV logo in the corner as it's considered an "extra" on this disc. If you're into the pre-ratings nudie/roughie/Adults Only scene, this is must-have material, and one of my favorite SW discs so far. Highest recommendation.
Just when you think you have a grip on the hilariously inept on/off toggle switch between these two realities, a flashback is introduced wherein our junkie narrator of sorts, Buddy, arrives at Virginia's (aka Psycho Cat's) exotic apartment and meets the other two Victims-for-Hire: a washed up actor, Charles, and a former wrestler played by none other than Jake LaMotta. ("You don't have a chance," he sneers in his rich Bronx accent. "You get in close, I'll break you in half.") It is decided he will be hunted down like a bull.
Apparently one of the locations Peter Falk was unable to arrange under what must've been considerable budget constraints was for the lobby of the Beachwood Private Sanatorium, which strongly resembles a residential apartment. Luckily a fisheye lens was on hand to give the scene the requisite air of madness, though the entire film has an air of madness of another sort, not the least of which is provided by villainess Virginia's clunky black wig and nearly perpetual manic stares.
About halfway through you're relieved to get back to the slight swinger party scenes, which soon resemble something like Elvira commenting on the "other" movie and explaining what it's doing. The after-the-fact splicing gets even more awkward when the depiction of cooped up retired wrestler Rocko the Champ is combined with shots of a buxom topless woman making out with herself in a mirror and tossing off lines ostensibly directed at an offscreen Jake LaMotta, who had left the set two years earlier. And not even the same set, either - bedding doesn't match, eyelines don't match, nor the posters on the wall, the blocking or the stockings.
That said, the sequence where Buddy walks the street in search of heroin has a short film spontaneity unencumbered by dialogue and includes some nice shots of New York. After he scores, the viewer gets a bit of a treat as well by finally getting to read the fitting text that covers his shirt. Better enjoy it, too, because a few scenes later it's suddenly a different shirt. And sunglasses. Is it even the same actor? Oh, never mind, he's dead now. Whoever he was. Spoiler alert.
The bonus features include several saucy trailers and two longer pieces, the first of which is the archival short "Preface to a Life." Daunted by the "Federal Security Agency Public Health Service Presents" introduction and the tedious educational tone, I nevertheless trudged forth to see what it was about, intrigued by the tagline on the DVD box that describes it as "Mental illness eats away Small Town U.S.A. and turns Don Murray (Bus Stop) into a woman-hating semi-psycho in 1950s grim 28-minute Preface to a Life." Could've fooled me, I thought it was a boring educational short about how to (or how not to) raise a baby named Michael Thompson, with more references to "Michael" by the narrator than a relentlessly cloying customer service rep would use. Pass.
Lastly, the disc includes "Hot Blooded Woman," a jagged, rambling 68-minute consideration of the uncouth shoving, clumsy brawling and rough seduction style of the somewhat lower classes, ostensibly framed as a psychological study of a proto-Girl Gone a little too Wild and set to a peppy one-size-fits-all Bill Black Combo beat.
The glaring flaws in "Confessions of a Psycho Cat" would be shining moments of production glory in the context of this film. But the most shocking aspect of "Hot Blooded Woman" is that it can even be considered a film by usual (and even forgiving) narrative standards; the first half seems to embrace casual violence, indicate that a story may be included, perpetually suggest sex, then shy away from it. It begins to border on the avant garde with its patient observation of an unfamiliar woman in garters smoking and drinking alone before she distractedly disrobes and takes a bath; director Dale Berry seems more intrigued by the banal ritual of her routine than by the nudity it conveniently provides. Once the nudity has been provided, however, the film becomes a straightforward sexploitation flick for awhile, and one is left wondering why they bothered with the initial setup at all; perhaps it was all just a matter of the pacing of the times. But no, suddenly we're right back to the psychiatrist and the clunky soap opera psychodrama again, our expectations shoved around in the same manner the characters handle each other. In the end it feels like a very long 68 minutes, but is perversely fascinating in its schizophrenic style.
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