Written by: George Pacheco on January 14th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Netherlands / Belgium, 1973
Director: Fons Rademakers
Writers: Hugo Claus, Fons Rademakers
Cast: Bryan Marshall, Alexandra Stewart, Sylvia Kristel
DVD Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen
Sound: Dolby Mono Mono English
DVD Release: One Seven Movies
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Brutalization is a strange re-titling of the 1973 Belgian/Dutch crime film Because of the Cats from noted director Fons Rademakers, whose 1958 debut Village by the River was the first Dutch film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
This film is a bit removed from the sort of fare usually reserved for the Academy, telling the sordid tale rich, amoral youths who have fallen under the charms of an older svengali type who is seeking to organize them for acts of robbery, violence and general anarchy. Brutalization begins with a fairly brutal and realistic gang rape scene; a sequence which not only sets a tone for the film’s crime procedural first half, but presents the scene without delving too heavy into hysteria or hyperbole. As a result of this decision, the rape act itself–and the behavior of the characters involved–is actually more convincing and affecting upon the audience.
After this sequence, Brutalization follows the investigation of Inspector van der Valk as he attempts to track down the culprits. Rademakers and his crew never let the tension slip for a second, however, and we the audience are seriously invested in van der Valk’s decision making and actions every step of the way. The events unfold, suspects are interrogated and the film rolls along at an excellent pace, culminating in some seriously psychedelic sequences which–although a bit jarring in tone compared to the film which preceded it–finish the picture nicely in the pedigree associated with the giants of stylish 1970s Euro-cinema.
It should be noted that Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel is credited as a “star” of Brutalization when she actually has a fairly limited amount of screen time. The young Ms. Kristel looks absolutely beautiful here, however, and her character does indeed possess a fairly pivotal role with how things turn out for the rest of the characters. The fact that Brutalization stands on its own without her involvement is testament to how strong Rademakers film is, however, with smart photography, lovely scenery and a great, semi-funky score from composer/jazz musician Ruud Bos to back up this intriguing mystery from first shot to last.
Brutalization arrives with an anamorphic widescreen print which serves as one of the best in recent memory from One Seven Movies. Colors are nicely saturated, and the image never seems cramped on the screen. Sound is equally well balanced, leaving this version of Brutalization/Because of the Cats as the best way to see this taut Euro thriller on home video. Extras may be limited only to the film’s original trailer, but no matter: this release stands as one of One Seven Movies best films to date, and comes highly recommended.