By Nick Durham
Raising Cain is a weird fucking movie. Let’s get that out of the way right fucking now. Not to mention the fact that it is also one of director Brian De Palma’s most underrated films as well. A critical and commercial flop when originally released in 1992, Raising Cain is an exercise in lunacy with a serious Hitchcock-ian vibe. Now I know that just about all of De Palma’s films are Hitchcock inspired, but Raising Cain seriously takes it to another level. Scream Factory has graced us with a Blu-ray special edition release of the film, so now hopefully it will receive the appreciation it deserves.
The story of Raising Cain revolves around child psychologist Carter Nix (John Lithgow) who has his share of problems. These problems include the fact that he has multiple personalities and is a murderous nutjob, and that’s really only scratching the surface here. Carter’s cheating wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) and her lover Jack (Steven Bauer) appear to be in the crosshairs of Carter’s many personalities, in particular that of Cain; a demonic personality which seems to have some fucked up plans of his own. In the midst of all this are child experiments (including Carter’s own child) and Carter’s mysterious father (also played by Lithgow); culminating in so many what the fuck moments and legitimate shocks that I’m really having a hard time explaining things here, so all I can really say is that you need to see it yourself.
First and foremost, John Lithgow is having a pure blast in Raising Cain. He gleefully switches between desperate and joyfully over the top that it’s just pure joy watching him have fun. Lithgow is usually always a treat to watch no matter what he’s in, but here he gives such a dynamite performance that’s it’s hard not to admire the work he’s doing here. The rest of the cast don’t appear to take things too seriously though, which kind of drags the film down a bit to be totally honest. Not to mention the twisting plot and outrageous characters and overall story make Raising Cain hard to get into. It’s really no surprise that the film didn’t do so well when originally released, but hey, if this film were made today, chances are it wouldn’t get a theatrical release at all.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Raising Cain is interesting to say the least. It’s a two disc set which features the theatrical cut of the film on the first disc, along with a handful of lengthy interviews with Lithgow and De Palma stalwarts Bauer and Gregg Henry, along with others as well. The second disc of the set features a “director’s cut” of the film, and I use quotation marks here because technically it isn’t so much a director’s cut at all in the traditional sense of inserting extra footage or things like that. It’s actually kind of a re-editing of the film more or less based on the original screenplay that De Palma apparently had little to no input on. This alone makes this set worth picking up. Additional features include a small featurette on Peet Gelderblom; the man who is responsible for this re-edited cut, and a video essay from Gelderblom explaining the differences between the cuts. Just like with the Carrie Blu-ray release, there’s nothing from De Palma himself included here, which is a real shame.
All in all, saying Raising Cain isn’t for everybody is saying it lightly. That being said, it’s a very unique film, and one of De Palma’s more underrated ones as well. Scream Factory has assembled a pretty nifty Blu-ray release that fans of the film should undoubtedly pick up. For everyone else though that isn’t familiar with the film, this is definitely an acquired taste.