Cathy’s Curse is a 1977 Canadian supernatural horror film that has achieved cult status due mainly to the fact that it seems to go out of its way not to make any sense.
Thought to be an attempt to capitalize on the success of satanic-themed blockbusters such as The Exorcist and The Omen, the evil-girl motifs of Carrie and The Bad Seed, the haunted-house premise of The Amityville Horror, and the reincarnation angle of Audrey Rose, the movie is notable for its ineptitude and continuity problems.
The movie starts with a scene set in 1947. Sitting in bed with her doll, seven-year-old Laura Gimble tells her father Robert that his wife has abandoned the family and taken her younger brother George with her. Furious at the news, Robert bellows, “Your mother’s a bitch! She’ll pay for what she did to you!” He takes Laura with him in their car seeking to find his wife and dole out justice to her, but when young Laura sees an innocent bunny rabbit crossing the road, she screams at Robert to avoid hitting it, which makes him veer off the road into a snowbank, whereupon the car bursts into flames, killing them.
Thirty-two years later, George Gimble (Alan Scarfe) is now a grown man with a mentally unstable wife and a young daughter named Cathy (Randi Allen in her only film role). They move back into the old family home. When Cathy finds her Aunt Laura’s doll up in the attic, strange things begin to happen—in fact, every strange thing that has happened in every grindhouse movie starts happening at once. Bathtub faucets suddenly start gushing blood. Maids get thrown through windows for no apparent reason. Cathy starts speaking in demonic voices, cursing like a sailor, levitating, and teleporting. Worms suddenly infest food, then disappear. Things suddenly burst into flames. Doors begin rattling. Giant spiders crawl over the drunken babysitter’s face. It’s like a pastiche of every silly horror trope of the 1970s.
Several critics have observed that Cathy’s Curse is so aggressively lousy, it qualifies as a case of “so bad, it’s good”:
“There are numerous plot holes and what-the-hell moments peppered throughout the film. In short, Cathy’s Curse has all the elements that make a bad movie swing back around to being awesome again.” —Film Fracture
“What is abundantly clear is that this lame Exorcist inspired Canadian horror is inept in almost every way imaginable, but for fans of Z-grade trash, it’ll be just about worth a watch for the unintentional LOLs…it’s slipshod – and hysterically scripted – enough to make it pretty amusing in spite of itself.” —IMDb
“Cathy’s Curse is pretty loose with logic, which is a nice way of saying there is no logic to anything that happens.” —Bloody Disgusting
“The details in this movie defy all laws of everything in the history of ever, and none of it makes a lick of damn sense….Cathy’s Curse has actors, dialogue, and a semblance of a plot, but there’s nothing there that makes me say, ‘Ah yes, I am watching a movie!’…I find it hard to believe that this movie could get from the page to the screen without anyone noticing that it makes no GD sense.” —Final Girl
Here are 16 of the most WTF moments in one of the most WTF movies ever made.
1. Many characters in the film appear from nowhere and then suddenly disappear, with no reason and for no apparent purpose. While a psychic medium is visiting, another old lady appears to call her “an extra rare piece of shit”—again, for no reason at all.
2. When Cathy tele-transports from the bottom of the staircase to the top, her mother isn’t shocked that her daughter is adept at the art of tele-transportation—she simply acts annoyed.
3. In the scene where Cathy’s mom attempts to decompress by taking a bath, the faucet suddenly gushes with blood. Then, with no explanation, Cathy’s mom is standing up and covered in leeches.
4. A psychic medium visits the family. She begins to receive visions of the fiery car crash. Then she starts screaming uncontrollably. Then, as if nothing happened, she tells her hosts that she had a great time and they need to get together again. Then she walks outside, falls face-first into the snow, and is never seen again.
5. The movie, made in 1977, was set in “the future”—1979, to be exact.
6. Since the film implies that the doll Laura owned is what transferred the curse to Cathy, it should have been called Laura’s Curse.
7. At one point, Cathy’s mother Vivian tells her husband, “You know and I know that I’ve had a nervous breakdown, right? Well, it’s not hereditary and it isn’t catching!”
8. Cathy’s parents leave her with an elderly drunken babysitter named Paul, who continues to get aggressively snockered during his time with her. He tells Cathy that their neighbor is a “dirty old whore.” Cathy makes him hallucinate an array of giant bugs and snakes crawling over his face. When he attempts to burn her beloved rag doll, she tells him she’s going to kill him, at which point he blurts out, “Go on, you filthy female cow—make us laugh!”
9. Cathy finds her Aunt Laura’s doll up in the attic. But in the opening scene, Laura took the doll with her in the car that eventually crashed and burst into flames.
10. Cathy is not only cursed, but she curses relentlessly—which is a bit shocking, seeing as she’s only eight or so years old in the film.
11. In the scene where Cathy sees Laura’s ghost, the spirit fades in and out of view due to lousy double-exposure effects.
12. In the scenes where Cathy “teleports” and suddenly appears in different parts of the room, this was achieved by turning the camera on and off.
13. Cathy’s mom keep referring to Cathy’s doll as a “dirty rag.”
14. In a scene where Cathy uses telekinesis to toss a bowl of cereal across the room, where it crashes into a wall and shatters into pieces on the floor, the maid merely acts like it was a mistake and says, “Don’t worry about it.”
15. The house that George, Vivian, and Cathy inhabit has all of the décor and accoutrements that it did 32 years prior. Nothing has changed. In fact, it didn’t even accumulate any dust over all those years.
16. When Cathy is serving her mother a plate of food, suddenly it becomes infested with worms and rots away. Then, suddenly, it’s OK again. Cathy’s mom acts like nothing happened and enjoys eating her lunch.