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Monday, October 21, 2019

Cat’s Eye (1985)




The October movie reviews keep rolling along. Since I just got done with a series of demonic possession movie reviews, I thought it would be fun to check out another staple of the genre, anthologies! I thought I’d start off with one inspired by Stephen King stories featuring an original script from the master himself! Two of the stories, Quitters Inc. and The Ledge are adapted from short stories from King’s short story collection Night Shift. The last story connects all three together and was an original written by King for the movie.

Before I continue let me warn you there will be spoilers. But this movie is more than thirty years old, so I don’t feel that bad about it. If you want to skip the spoilers, I’ll let you know that I’m going to recommend this movie. It is a lot of fun! Now let’s get back to the good stuff.

Things start off with a cat running around Wilmington North Carolina. It gets chased by a strangely familiar St. Bernard and almost gets hit by a classic car that I also remember from somewhere! The cat eventually hitches a ride on a truck and ends up in New York City. There it is picked up and taken to an office to be used as an example of how effective an electrified floor can be in causing pain. Welcome to Quitters Inc.

James Woods plays a man named Dick who really wants to stop smoking. On the advice of a friend he signs up with a company called Quitters Inc. who promises to get results. What he doesn’t realize is that the company was founded by the mob after one of their leaders died of lung cancer. The results they achieve come from techniques developed in their other lines of business. Dick is shown the cat jumping around the electrified floor and told if he smokes again it will be his wife in the room. Then his daughter and then they will give up on him (said while showing a gun)! He does fall of the wagon, which sucks for his wife, but then we see that he has successfully kicked the habit. Now about his weight…

James Woods is great in the movie
Woods is great as Dick. He is basically playing himself, but he does that very well. There is a party scene where he hallucinates everyone smoking including from their ears while cigarette packs dance around the room. Alan King is Dr. Vinny and is very menacing in his role as a helpful mobster that will help Dick kick the habit not matter who gets hurt along the way! This is a solid segment and took what was one of my least favorite stores from Night Shift and made it entertaining. Look for Drew Barrymore in a small role as Dick’s daughter. She is a recurring theme along with the cat.

The cat escapes the offices of Quitters Inc. and makes its way across the river into New Jersey. There it ends up with a mobster named Cressner. He is a gambler who has a problem with his wife. See she has a boyfriend, a former Tennis pro named Johnny. Cressner catches Johnny before he leaves town and makes him a friendly wager. If he can navigate the ledge around his penthouse apartment without falling to his death, then he will be given a bag full of money and allowed to leave with her. Otherwise bad things will happen. And so, The Ledge segment of Cat’s Eye starts.

Johnny doesn’t have much choice, so he climbs out on the ledge and starts scooting around the building. Cressner doesn’t play fair and takes every opportunity to make him slip. From loud horns startling him to a water hose the guy never lets up. There is even an annoying pigeon that pecks at his ankles. But against the odds Johnny makes his way around the building and climbs back up into the penthouse. Cressner is a man of his word and has the bag of money waiting. As he promised he can also leave town with his wife. Though he never promised that she would be alive! A fight ensues, the cat makes it’s escape, and Johnny gets the gun away from the mobster and his man. Not being an unreasonable guy, he offers Cressner a small wager. Make it around the building and he won’t shoot him!

I have a fear of heights, so The Ledge has always freaked me out. Just the idea of it causes chills to run down my spine. But on this viewing, I have to say that the special effects work doesn’t hold up well. The green screen shots of things falling and showing how high up they are looks fake. This is one of the few times that I think today’s technology could have pulled off the story much better. Still I like Robert Hays as Johnny. He does fear and anger very well as an actor who I think is much better known for his comedic roles. Despite my issues with badly aging special effects I still like The Ledge. Look for Drew Barrymore in a commercial.

The creature design holds up in this one
The General is the final segment and the only original one written for the movie. It features Drew Barrymore as a girl named Amanda. She is in danger from a Troll that is trying to sneak into her room at night and steal her breath/kill her. The story takes place in Wilmington where the movie started and where the cat has hitched a train back to. The cat, now named General by Amanda, knows about the Troll and is determined to protect her.

Of course, Amanda’s parents don’t believe in her stories. In fact, when the Troll sneaks in and kills the family’s pet bird it does so to frame the cat. The General is sent off to the pound to be destroyed, but when they bring him his last meal, he makes a break for it. He arrives back at the house just in time to do battle with the Troll and eventually tosses it into a box fan making Troll puree. Her parents hear the racket and see what is left of the evil little creature and realize some weird stuff was going down.

The highlight of this segment is the Troll. In the other two stories the “monster” was a person or people. Here we get an actual evil creature portrayed by an actor in a suit. I’m a sucker for this and the creature design looks great. They also do an amazing job of creating oversized sets since the creature is maybe eight or nine inches tall. Between those sets and blending shots of the Troll and full-size cast/environment it has a fun old school feel to it. Think the Incredible Shrinking Man, only this time the cat is the hero.

This is an excellent movie that I recommend without exception. Sometimes King Adaptations can be a mixed bag, but with Cat’s Eye you have nothing to worry about.



© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer



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