I bought a copy of Cat’s Eye on VHS and never watched it. Years later, I then bought a copy of Cat’s Eye on DVD and never watched it. Finally, last week I bought a copy of Cat’s Eye on blu-ray. I just watched it last night. You’re welcome for all that extra money Warner Bros.! I’m not sure why I waited this long to watch it, being a huge fan of Stephen King and cats and all. It turns out this is a perfectly enjoyable anthology film that I am glad I finally got to experience.
Years ago I would have identified myself as a dog person. We had dogs growing up and I didn’t actually get a cat until a few years ago when we ended up with two of them. Now I’m a cat person for life. Maybe it’s because of these cats specifically, who are cuddly almost to a fault, but I have completely switched sides. I tried going back to that Cats & Dogs movie with Tobey Maguire and was just too mad that my side was only being repped by a maniacal Sean Hayes. Cats deserve better than that! Dogs get to be the star and hero of so many movies but cats are mostly relegated to jumping out and scaring the shit out of people in horror movies. Or dying. That’s it. Until now! Or I guess until 1985 when Cat’s Eye came out. Things are still pretty bleak for cats at this point once again but at least they were given a shining moment here.
Cat’s Eye is an anthology film where the three primary stories are all connected by a stray cat. The cat keeps seeing visions of Drew Barrymore asking for his help and because cats are awesome he makes his way across the country to get to her. That doesn’t come into play until the third story though. Up until then we just get glimpses of adorable kitty between the stories, though he does always play a minor role in the main tales.
In the first one, James Woods is a guy whose friend suggests a company called Quitters Inc. in order to get him to stop smoking. During his first meeting with the boss, they hint that their motivational tactics are a tad more aggressive than perhaps would be expected. Namely they intend to harm Woods’ family if he doesn’t comply.
Cat’s Eye skews far closer to dark comedy than flat out horror for most its run time and Quitters Inc. finds a great balance between the two. It’s always right on the cusp of becoming completely bananas, fully giving in during a crazy dream sequence set to Every Breath You Take. They also wring some genuine suspense out of waiting to see if Woods will cave and smoke a cigarette. The threat has been established, and while it may just be empty words, you still don’t want him to take the chance. It’s a very strong start to the movie, probably too strong actually as the following two stories can’t quite measure up.
Though The Ledge, story number two, certainly makes an admirable go of it. Here the wife of a big Las Vegas mob dude is getting ready to run away with a tennis pro. He is caught before he can get out of the city and the boss, who’s a gamblin’ man, makes him a bet. If he can navigate around the perimeter of the high rise building they are in, using nothing but a thin ledge as footing, the boss will let him go. If he doesn’t agree to the bet, they are ready to frame him and have him thrown in jail. It doesn’t sound like a premise that could be stretched out to a full story, but they make it work.
For one, as part of the bet the mob guy is allowed to do whatever he wants in order to make sure Mr. Tennis doesn’t make it around the building. This means he will occasionally pop out of nowhere blaring an air horn or spraying a fire hose. This increases the tension because you never know when this crazy asshole is going to rear his head again. Some dated effects do take the suspense levels down a little, but it’s a fun story with a good twist. Oh and the cat is briefly taken in by the mob guy, who names the cat Sebastian. This is my cat’s name. At this point I became absolutely terrified that the cat wasn’t going to make it, especially once we moved into the third story where the cat is the star.
He finally makes it to the house of Drew Barrymore, and it turns out she has a little asshole troll dude living in her bedroom wall who sneaks out at night to steal her breath. She finds and adopts the cat and much of the story is spent making sure that her parents will believe the cat is actually the bad guy here so that they won’t accept the troll story. Mostly this is done by having the troll kill Barrymore’s pet bird. The mom firmly believes the cat is responsible for the bird’s death (they do show him killing a bird earlier, but it’s a wild bird so fuck that bird) and she then ventures into irredeemable territory by taking the cat away from Barrymore and bringing him to the shelter where he is set to be euthanized the following day. This section of the story did not sit well for me. Poor kitty! There’s just long takes of him sitting sadly in his cage but then when he eventually busts out, he gets this huge hero moment complete with a big, triumphant musical score. Then the cat kicks complete troll ass! The troll is actually an impressive bit of effects work, using a variety of camera tricks to bring the creature to life with no digital enhancements. He’s a goofy looking bastard and his death is played for comedy, but he’s an impressive piece of work.
Also, and I’m about to completely spoil the ending here, but how often do you see a movie where the very last shot is a little girl lovingly hugging her new kitty? You done did it kitty! You done did it!
Anyway I liked Cat’s Eye. It’s a solid anthology with no weak story entry, though they go from the strongest to the weakest, even if I did enjoy all the cat heroics in the third tale. It’s a good mix of horror and dark comedy that breezes by. Recommended!