Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stephen King's Cat's Eye (1985)

I'm a sucker for horror anthologies.  Creepshow is one of my favorite movies, I always loved Tales From the Crypt and as much as I like Stephen King's novels, I find the collections of his short stories to be even better at times.  Probably because I can get through an entire one without having to set aside other plans.

Cat's Eye, while not nearly as awesome as Creepshow, is at the very least, far superior to Creepshow 2.  Based on two stories from King's Night Shift collection as well as an original King story, it follows a stray cat as it races to help a young girl played by Drew Barrymore, in her second King film after Firestarter.  Dino DeLaurentiis also co-produced so right away you know it's right up my alley.  Let's go story by story.

First off, I love how the cat manages to not only outsmart Cujo but also the evil car from Christine in the opening credits.  Not the first time we've seen something like this in a film from Dino.  Same damn thing happened in Orca with the title character curb-stomping (can it still be called that if you have no feet?) a great white shark two years after the release of Jaws.  The transitions from story to story are also pretty cool as well.

Our first story is a darkly funny bit called Quitters. Inc. starring James Woods as a man who really wants to quit smoking.  He goes to the company in the title and meets with Mr. Donatti (Alan King) who is rather... Oh, let's say militant about kicking the habit.  Put it this way, within two minutes of their meeting, he has a near psychotic fit.  King and Woods are terrific here with Woods turning in a funny, droll performance and King channeling... Well to be honest, I'd rather not know what the hell his technique was for playing this role.  I'd like to sleep again.  It's good though, very good.
The clinic is equally militant, acting like a cross between the CIA and the Mafia with a little good old fashioned bat shit crazy thrown in for spice and the whole story is a rather psychotically enjoyable bit of dark comedy.  Sadly, the following segments can't match the first.

The second, The Ledge, is a suspenseful, yet somewhat predictable yarn starring Robert Hays as a tennis pro who has been sleeping with the wife of crime boss Kenneth McMillan who will bet on anything.  In this case, he bets Hays can't walk across the ledge of his penthouse apartment.  The stuff with Hays on the ledge is actually pretty great but the payoff is easy to guess.

Last up is The General, a rather silly, yet modestly entertaining story that sees the cat finally finding Drew who is danger of having her breath stolen by an evil little troll that lives behind the walls in her home.  Drew is pretty good here but Candy Clark as her her mother is truly the only annoying aspect of the film.

I'd like to think that if my mom was as thoroughly unlikable as the one here, I'd have the fortitude to forget her birthday every year as well as Mother's Day.  That she usually looks like she's about ten seconds away from smacking her kid across the house any second doesn't help matters either.  Her dad is slightly better, but David Naughton just doesn't quite make the guy into someone I'd pull out of the path of an oncoming bus.

Sorry, but if you are an adult in 1985 and you're still citing the old wives tale about cats stealing the breath of children when they sleep, you're probably either severely retarded to the point where a helper has to be with you at all times so you don't hurt yourself or the parents in this segment.   Not often you see such poorly written characters from good old Stevie.  Well, King was in the middle of his addictions at this point so I guess I can give him a pass.

It's honestly not that big a thing but characters that annoying happen to be one of my pet peeves.  That being said, it's amazingly satisfying at the end when Drew essentially blackmails her mom into lettering her keep the cat.

The troll itself is a neat bit of f/x work from Carlo Rambaldi and the climax is nicely gross as the cat dispatches the little beast by getting it on a record player, turning said player on and launching the troll into a rotating fan.

Cat's Eye is a solid enough horror film with a fantastic first segment, a good second and a problematic third.  It's worth seeing.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.