CAT SICK BLUES (2015) Dir. Dave Jackson, Australia, 101 mins
Regular readers of this series will know that one of the things I most value in a film is originality. Horror cinema as a whole is a field riddled with archetypes, stereotypes and clichés, and extreme horror can also suffer that to some extent. The attempt to be transgressive and challenging tends to invite more originality, but there are plenty of gory slashers and movies focused on extensive torture and human suffering that equally risk treading a path well trodden. Australia’s Cat Sick Blues is, in a sense, a slasher, but I would argue is genuinely unlike anything you’ve seen before. Gloriously odd, sometimes hilariously funny, other times cuttingly serious and dark, this movie has shot high up the list of my favourite extreme movies. It might even be a top ten already.
The story follows Ted, a young man who has just lost his black cat Patrick. We see in a bizarre scene that he fed his cat so much that it physically exploded, and that juxtaposition is something that sums up this movie. It’s somehow both sad and funny all at once. But Ted is deeply affected, and refuses to lose his feline companion quite that easily. So he freezes his pet before setting out on quest for nine human lives…
Our other lead is Claire, owner of the Youtube cat sensation Imelda. But darker times are coming for her when an obsessed fan drops by her house – she doesn’t have the heart to turn him away – before proceeding to throw her cat out of the window(!) rather than give her back to her owner, then raping Claire. Unfortunately all of this is caught on Claire’s video camera, and there’s some comment on the cult of internet personalities and Youtube here – actually featuring a fictional review from my favourite Youtuber, Otoobach, which really made me smile.
The two are drawn together at a meeting for people suffering from grief having lost pets, which is another extraordinarily strange scene as Ted suffers one of his many seizures – not medical but psychological. Ted and Claire are strangely drawn together and end up going out to dinner and sleeping together. All the while they get to know each other, Ted continues his killing spree, all the while wearing a black cat mask in tribute to Patrick and, even weirder, a huge dildo with a few barbed spikes on it. Maybe someone out there can confirm for me this is what a cat’s penis looks like, but I’m sure as hell not going to Google it. The dildo is his weapon of choice, which certainly gives for some pretty twisted and gory scenes.
That’s the set-up, but I’m reticent to give the ending away – it’s kind of too good and too off-the-wall for me to spoil. It’s one part bonkers, one part freaky and honestly a third part really sad – and that was the part I certainly hadn’t expected. Then again, this has to be one of the most unexpected 100 minutes of cinema I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. If I had one complaint the pace does lag a bit in the middle of the movie, but ultimately it’s clever, it’s different, it’s funny, it’s dark and it’s a movie you should go and hunt down and watch. Unless you’re a big cat lover – there’s a chance it might not speak to you quite as much…
RATING: 9.5/10. It’s one of life’s great pleasures to stumble across a gem of a movie you have literally never heard of – in this case I was literally just drawn in by the title! But from a relatively early stage – in fact when Ted first reveals himself as the ‘Catman Killer’ – I was absolutely hooked. This is a blend of so many different elements that just shouldn’t work, but somehow they all dovetail beautifully to present a movie that does stacks of different thing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll rage, you might even have your heartstrings pulled a little here or there. Hats off to all involved – this is extreme horror as it should be. It’s a fantastic 9.5/10 from me.