Cat's Eye (1986)
Director: Lewis Teague
A stray cat on a mission to save a little girl (Barrymore) serves as the link between three dark and twisted Stephen King stories. Call off the hookers, this is worth it.
"Cat’s Eye" was Stephen King’s first screenplay written for the screen and is also the anthology that marked me the most when I was a young twerp. Specific scenes from this picture have been engraved in my cranium for so long and they will always be. I was a bit afraid that in watching this flick again today, it would have lost its magic, but thankfully this feline still purred for me like a humming drunk “mademoiselle” whispering in my Jeans. Let’s break it down.
Wraparound story: The wraparound story is nothing too impressive, but is still harmless entertainment. I mucho dug the early nods to King’s "Cujo" and "Christine", but was admittedly a tad aloof when it came to the cat seeing various visions of cutie Drew Barrymore throughout. I mean, what was the logical explanation behind the Barrymore sightings? Do cats know something we don’t? I couldn’t find any sense behind them, so I just went with it. Overall it’s ok and let's face it, you just can’t go wrong following pussy around. Grade: B
Quitters Inc: This is by far my favorite tale in this insane horror zoo. We follow a loving husband played by the GREAT Jimmy Woods as he enters a "quit smoking" clinic where he gets more than he bargained for. Let’s just say that this particular establishment uses methods that are far from ethical to get the job done. James Woods is, as per usual style, an immense delight as the compulsive smoker; the man has a comedic edge that hasn’t been explored enough through his work and here he gets to show some of it off. Alan King (Vinnie) is also a blast to watch; wait till you see what he does to a pack of smokes early on; it had me in stitches. THIS MAN MEANS BUSINESS! Add to that, hilarious yet vicious electric room incidents, a psychotic hallucinatory sequence where everybody is all about nicotine sucking, a nod to “The Dead Zone”, a kool use of the ditty “Every Breath You Take”, some suspenseful moments, a swift pace, great writing and a groovy ending and you get one for the short story hall of fame. I dug it the most! Grade: A+
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS TALE: Don’t quit smoking unless you want to see your girl hop around like a bunny rabbit on speed.
The Ledge: A bitter mobster (McMillan) catches the dude (Hays) who's been nailing his wife behind his back and offers him a wager: walk around the ledge of a high-rise and if you make it...you’re free to go with the girl and some dough. If you don’t make it; you be deader than Cobain. Although a tad overlong and somewhat repetitive, this zany ride still delivered with its kooky concept. The many nutso obstacles that were slapped the protagonist’s way never failed to amuse me (all about that horn) and wait until you see that pigeon get into the mix; man, was I getting antsy for the dude or what? Damn pigeon! FUCK OFF! Sure, the “so-so” visual effects weren’t always up to par and at times did take away from the severity of the situation, but hey, the flick was shot in the 80’s, what can you do? Tag to all that, an off-the-wall performance by Kenneth McMillan (Cressner) as the mobster (“Just keeping ya on your toes”), a slick slow-motion car crash with a daredevil cat doing his thang, an ironic ending and you get another fun ride at the King household. Grade: B
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS TALE: If you’re going to bang a mobster’s wife; don’t get pinched; simple as 1-2-3.
The General: This last story has our “Meow Mix” hero finally meeting up with little Drew Barrymore and eventually having to protect her from an evil troll that lives in her wall. This bit offered a couple of spooky moments when it came to the Troll, presented us with an effective eerie score and you just can’t go wrong with a murderous Troll’s bedroom adventures. True, the optical effects were, at times, obvious, but they were still fairly accomplished and the delicious imagination behind them compensated for their shortcomings. My only beef with this story was the presence of the bitch mother character (Clark); she pissed me off so bad! Now I know the character had that bad attitude in order to serve as a crucial plot convention, but that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to stuff her in a blender along with that damn troll. Overall though, this last bit is a winning cap-off to what is mostly a solid anthology. Grade: A
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THIS TALE: Trolls are butt ugly no matter how trendy their Jester hats are.
This cat litter is a little dry; we get a cut off finger, some bloody bird peckings, a severed head and one ugly ass troll. Carlo Rambaldi was the man behind the effects here. Nice troll Carlo; sure beats your "Silver Bullet" wolfman, that’s fer sure.
James Woods (Dick) is and will always be "the man". He owned this story and seeing him trying to sneak in a smoke was a hoot. Drew Barrymore (Amanda) is cute and does well. Alan King (Vinnie) goes all out with the role and I relished every second of it. The man is nuts! Kenneth McMillan (Cressner) also sinks into the scenery and let's it rip. He’s a hoot to watch! Candy Clark (Sally) plays bitch very well; yes, I loathed her. Robert Hays (Johnny) does what he has to do, but I can’t say I was bowled over by his performance. He’s ok.
T & A
No dice. Rent this one back to back with “Brianna Loves Jenna” if you need that smutty upper for the evening.
Teague comes through by knowing when to downplay a scene or go all out from a visual standpoint. I must also commend his handle on the suspense, the slow motion and his Troll POV shots rocked!
The score by Alan Silvestri worked when it was played down, but felt cheesy when played up. I did dig the troll theme and the rendition of “Every Breath You Take” though.
Studio: Warner Home Video
IMAGE: The anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) looks surprisingly sharp especially when you take into account the film's original release date. Nice transfer.
SOUND: The English Dolby Surround Sound is all at the right levels and is crystal clear.
Commentary: Lewis Teague comes in to talk about how the film came to be, the experience of working with cats, comments on the actors, trivia on the locations and more! There is some dead time on occasion and Teague doesn’t always comment on what’s happening on the screen (he’s got his own shit going on) but the commentary is still a fun listen.
We also get a Cast and Crew Filmographies option and the film’s Theatrical Trailer.
I didn’t expect much out of this DVD, but the commentary and the trailer actually made my day. Thanks Warner Brothers!
Much like a Whisky Sour, "Cat’s Eye" went down real sweet; it’s well written, creative, over the top at times and all around barrel of kicks in the right places. Much like everything else in life, the film does sport some flaws, but the overall quality of the film made up for them. Quitters Inc alone is a riot and is worth the price of rental or purchase. Are you in the mood for a pleasurable anthology fix? Look into this "Cat’s Eye" and get ready to be horror high.
The Ledge and Quitter’s Inc. were both based on short stories found in King’s Night Shift book. “The General” was original material written for the movie.