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Cat's Eye (1985)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Director:
Lewis Teague Lewis Teague
Starring:
Drew Barrymore Drew Barrymore
James Woods James Woods
Alan King Alan King
Kenneth McMillan Kenneth McMillan
Robert Hays Robert Hays

5.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Horror, Horror Anthology, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror, Thriller, Cats
Three short stories by shock-meister Stephen King are linked by a stray cat that roams from one tale to the next in this creepy triptych that begins as Dick (James Woods) tries to quit smoking by any means necessary. Next, we meet Johnny, an adulterous man who's forced by his lover's husband onto a building's hazardous ledge. Finally, Amanda is threatened by an evil gnome who throws suspicion on the family cat. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: March 08, 2005
Story #1 - "Quitters, Inc."
Richard 'Dick' Morrison (James Woods) is a chain smoker who, at the suggestion of his friend, decides to try and stop smoking by going to a place called Quitters, Incorporated. After filling out all of the necessary paperwork, he meets the man who runs the place. Dr. Vinnie Donatti (Alan King) is who he introduces himself as, and he doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to explaining how his program works. You see, that cigarette that Dick smoked before entering the building was the last one that he was allowed to smoke. Vinnie has hired a bunch of guys to watch Dick around the clock, hiding outside of his window, in his closet, following him in a car... everywhere he goes, someone is going to be watching him. If Dick lights up a cigarette, his wife will be tortured while he is forced to watch. If that isn't enough motivation to stop smoking, his daughter will then be tortured upon his lighting of a second cigarette. A third smoke will result in Vinnie sending out a man to rape his wife while he watches, and a fourth will result in death to the entire family.

Based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King in his "Night Shift" novel, this story is by far the strongest of the movie. As a smoker myself, I can attest to how difficult it is to go without a cigarette for a long period of time, and this is built up perfectly by James Woods. His performance as the nicotine-addicted guy fiending for a cigarette was perfect, and the evil mobster role was played to perfection by Alan King. The storyline of this one moves along nicely, and as the story progresses along, we learn more and more about this organization and their methods. My only gripe regarding this entry was the fact that it was heavily edited from its original short story form. Events are changed around to meet the running time limit of the overall movie, entire parts are removed, and the entire thing cuts off well before the actual story was supposed to end. For those who haven't read the story, it won't really matter; things are wrapped up decently enough (though still leaving a lot of unanswered questions)... however, for those who have read the story, be prepared to be as disappointed as I was.

Story #2 - "The Ledge"
Johnny Norris (Robert Hays) has made a huge mistake. He had a love affair with Marcia (Patricia Kalember), a married woman... the problem is, she's married to a gambling crime boss named Cressner (Kenneth McMillan). If that wasn't enough, he also managed to steal a large sum of cash from the man as well. Of course, it doesn't take long for Cressner to find out about the whole affair, and sends out a few of his goons to bring Johnny back to his high-rise apartment. Cressner makes a deal with Johnny - he can either pick up the phone and let the cops know about the huge block of heroin that has been planted in the trunk of his car, which would result in Johnny serving up some serious hard time... or, he can do a little gambling. Johnny obviously goes for the gambling part of the deal, as Cressner lays out the rules. There's a five-inch ledge surrounding his apartment building, and if Johnny can make his way around the entire building, he gets to keep the cash, Marcia, and walk away with his life. If he fails to make it around the building... well, it's a hell of a long way down to the streets below.

Once again, this one is based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King in his "Night Shift" novel. Unlike "Quitters, Inc.", however, this one isn't nearly as strong as it could have been. While the storyline holds up decently enough on the big screen, it's (again) a large step away from the source material, which was far more effective. The ending of the story also received a change, as instead of leaving things open to debate as the original story did, this one goes the safe route by showing exactly what happened and how... an ending that, in my opinion, ruined the suspense that the novel version created. With the comparisons aside, this one is just decent. There's a nice storyline here, but the execution is nothing really special. With the exception of one minor obstacle, the challenge is met with ease by Johnny, yet another part of the short that kills any chances of suspense or believability.

Story #3 - "The General"
Now, there's a part of the film that I left out. As the previous two stories progress, we see a cat wandering around from story to story, effectively connecting the two. It's nothing overly special, he just happens to be a stray in the first story, and then winds up as Cressner's pet in the second. His motivations for moving from story to story, however, are another thing. We watch as the cat sees visions of a little girl, a girl who pleads for his help from an unknown assailant. Yes, the girl asks the cat for help in a series of visions. This storyline is built up as a sort of intermission before and between the first two stories, and now, it gets a full thirty minute story of its own to wrap things up. As it turns out, it was young Amanda (Drew Barrymore) calling out to the cat while she dreamed... she didn't realize it herself, but it was more her subconscious calling out to the pussy... or something. Anywho, the cat shows up at her house, and we soon discover that there's a troll living in Amanda's bedroom wall that intends to steal her breath away, and only the cat can save her.

Unlike the first two stories, this one isn't based on a Stephen King story. I'm not sure if this story was his creation or not, but if it was, it was definitely a huge black mark on his career as a whole. For starters, this feels like a rejected kiddie Halloween special. Have you ever watched one of those Nickelodeon specials that seem to pop up around Halloween, the ones that are supposed to be scary, but in a tailored to a nine-year-old sort of way? If someone were to bring this story to the people who write those shows, they would certainly be laughed out of the building due to the lack of quality and entertainment. It's just that bad. The storyline is hokey at best, the troll in question wouldn't scare my four-year-old, and the end result of the mess... my god, that's one horrid ending. Most of the story consists of Amanda (played by a very young Drew Barrymore, giving her typical half-stoned look throughout) telling her parents about the troll and asking to keep the cat in her room at night. Back and forth, they fight over whether or not the cat can sleep with her... this aspect of the short takes up most of the running time, so unless you like watching a spoiled six-year-old beg her parents, you'll be sorely disappointed here. The troll, from a purely effects point of view and based on the time it was released, was decent at best. Although it's made quite obvious that they placed his image on top of a screen for the scenes in which he attempts to steal Amanda's breath, the motion scenes were nice enough. Nothing outstanding, but suitable to the film. The main problem, however, is the way that this troll was supposed to be almost cute, not the child-killing beast that it should have been. It giggles, it snorts, it bumbles around, and it even has cute little bells hanging from a hat on its head. If you're looking for a story to show to your toddlers around Halloween time, this would be it... everyone else would be better off just skipping this chunk of the DVD.

Overall, we have two decent stories and one hellacious atrocity of a short. My advice in regards to this film would be to pick up the novel containing the first two stories and give the movie a skip. The first two stories are decent at best, but they don't even begin to compare to the original source material. As a whole, I'd go with a 4/10 for the film.
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