Marketing does a lot for a film; it helps it find the right audience and really give it the home deserves, a little bit similar to a welfare shelter for cats and dogs. The problem with Marketing is, once the film is out into the world, you cannot stop other people from marketing it in completely the wrong way, to the wrong audience and ending up doing nothing positive with their intended popularity through word of mouth. It seems that Cat Sick Blues came to my attention in a similar way; it’s been recommended to me on numerous occasions as an extremely fucked-up film that they believe will be like catnip to my senses. The mistake that has been made here is that my taste is a little different to those who found something in Dave Jackson’s film, however, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t find the merits in this peculiar telling.
Ted is not your average young man; he’s in a state of turmoil after his cat dies and suffers some form of breakdown as a result of this. In order to bring back his dead cat, Ted believes he just needs nine human lives to complete the resurrection, and therefore becomes a serial killer. Whilst carrying out his murders he decides he truly needs to encompass the vibe that his dead cat was giving off whilst alive, so he slowly turns himself into a cat to conduct his killings. But it’s not all about butchering people – Ted meets a woman called Claire who also lost her cat in a traumatic way, and between them, some form of disturbing romance begins.
When you first read about the synopsis online, it’s truly a film that you cannot ignore as it sounds like it could go one of two ways; it will either be one of the most depraved pieces of cinema you’ll ever witness, or it will be the most ridiculous piece of cinema you’ll ever witness. Cat Sick Blues never quite reaches the status of either of these, and positions itself in the middle which certainly doesn’t do itself any favours. For instance, The Greasy Strangler from Jim Hosking – this synopsis mentions that an oily, slimy, inhuman maniac is the killer, which sounds completely over the top and bad, however, Hosking presented the audience with something so ridiculous that the audience absolutely loved it. It’s better to lever your film completely to one end of the scale rather than fluttering between both ends, and coming to settle in the middle as it means the film never quite finds its feet, which is how Cat Sick Blues feels.
It certainly feels depraved and dirty in places; Claire is the secondary character that we follow throughout the film and it is during the scene where she is raped, and then has her famous cat killed by a psychotic fan. Initially this scene is quite distressing to watch, and puts the audience in an uncomfortable position, but when the cat is thrown out the window to its demise it suddenly feels as if we should laugh and therefore leaves us feeling confused about the emotion we should feel. Should we be horrified and disturbed or should we be laughing at this? Continuously the tone feels like it’s having an identity crisis; which really is what holds Cat Sick Blues back from being the independent extreme horror film that it wants to be.
As a kickstarter project, the passion for the film does have to be commended. You can see where the money was well spent; costume design, props and practical effects, all of which help to ensure that the film isn’t completely unbearable to watch. Ted’s cat costume is certainly one that I’ve found will haunt me in my nightmares – as someone who has two cats at home, it seems even more disturbing that a serial killer would dress as a cat and impersonate a cat, therefore his mask is a vision that will forever be burned into my retinas. The practical effects in place really do justice to give the film that grisly film with decapitated heads as lampshades, a scene drenched in lashings of blood and a woman’s face being repeatedly caved in with a graphic depiction of the breakdown of muscle, bone and brain.
Another factor that helps to drive Cat Sick Blues is Matthew C. Vaugh’s portrayal of Ted. Perhaps Vaughn is more of a cat man than he is a dog man, which explains why he so perfectly knows how to use a litter tray instead of a toilet…. Vaughn is unnervingly convincing as a serial killer who has metamorphosed himself into a cat to commit his kills, with a stare that claws right through the soft skin on your body and a persona that niggles under your skin like a flea. Not only that but he gives off this perverse feeling that leaves you feeling dirty all over, and one prop that helps that is the spiked cat-cock dildo strap-on. That’s correct, Ted wears an enormous cat-cock to rape his victims before slaughtering them for his ressurection.
And after reading a review like that, how can you not go and watch Cat Sick Blues immediately? As mentioned, it’s a film that will feel right to the audience that want something as strange and perturbing as this film. It seems there was a lot that could have been done with Cat Sick Blues, and it could have gained a more notorious name for itself if it either took out all the misplaced comedy or went full force with slapstick scenes. However, for those who are fans of extreme horror or independent horror, you cannot live the rest of your life and say you haven’t seen Ted don his cat-cock, his rubber kitty mask and behead some women to bring back his beloved pet, can you?
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5