Written by: Pieter Boven on September 20th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Netherlands, 1973
Director: Fons Rademakers
Writer: Hugo Claus
Cast: Bryan Marshall, Alexandra Stewart, Edward Judd, Sebastian Graham Jones, Anthony Allen, Nicholas Hoye, Sylvia Kristel
DVD released: October 2, 2003
Approximate running time: 94m00s
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono / Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: A-Film Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Netherlands)
Retail Price: 20-30 EUR
Six wealthy, well-dressed and well-spoken hoodlums amuse themselves with burglaries and senseless destructions in Amsterdam. When a married couple arrives home unexpectedly during one of their break-ins, they brutally rape the wife while forcing her husband to watch. The police puts inspector Van der Valk on the case and one of his first clues takes him to the quiet suburb of Bloemendaal. There he learns about a cult-like gang called The Ravens and its mysterious female counterpart The Cats. Van der Valk suspects a local bar owner knows more about this than he admits. The murder of a gang member presents the perfect opportunity for him to solve the case and deal with the real culprit, the mastermind behind the gangs.
The movie is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. IMDb reports the aspect ratio as 2.35:1 but I do not know if this is correct. In any case, the framing didn’t look compromised to me. It has quite a grainy look and small blemishes are present throughout the movie as well as some minor frame instability. Colours look natural and sharpness is decent but could be better. The main problem with the transfer is some annoying and eye-catching edge enhancement. Still, a decent transfer overall.
English audio is present in the original dolby digital 2.0 mono mix as well as in a remastered dolby digital 5.1 form. The mono track is too quiet and muffled but is at least free of annoying background noise. The 5.1 track is much louder and easier to understand but sounds too metallic. But can someone please explain the point of remixing a mono track into 5.1 surround? Not only is this almost as blasphemous as colouring a black & white movie to me, it also takes up valuable disc space which could have been used to improve the video compression. At least we get the choice here. Optional, properly translated and correctly placed subtitles are present in Dutch, French and German.
We get a fairly basic animated main menu along with static submenus in English. The scene selection consists of 24 chapters. As a bonus we first have the fullframe English theatrical trailer (2m20s) which is also subtitled in Dutch, French and German. Next we have some text based filmographies, a photo gallery with 10 pictures taken on the set and another one containing 5 pictures of promotional artwork. Finally there is a Dutch only promotional trailer (3m08s) for the Fons Rademakers DVD box of which this movie is also part. Nice inclusions but nothing spectacular.
The rape scene in the beginning seems to have earned Because of the Cats some kind of reputation as an exploitation movie. But actually it’s a rather standard, slow moving police film. Inspector Van der Valk is either interrogating and clumsily intimidating suspects or getting romantically involved with a local prostitute. There are some interesting scenes like the rape and the murder, in which the roles are turned around, but the movie is overlong. Especially the tedious explanation of the gangs seems to go on forever. And is it me or do the 6 boys at the beginning of the film turn magically into 5 later on, since the 6th member joins only 15 minutes into the film? I must have missed something there. Sylvia Krystel fans, once the screenwriter’s girlfriend by the way, also don’t need to bother since her role is very limited.
As far as the DVD is concerned, this is another case of far too expensive for far too little. After 2 years you would expect the price to drop but also the complete Fons Rademakers box remains outrageously priced.