Friday, October 19, 2012

Psychobabble's 150 Essential Horror Movies: Addition 19

Every day this October, I'll be adding a film to Psychobabble's 120 Essential Horror Movies to bring the list up to 150. Today’s addition is:

108. Cat’s Eye (1985- dir. Lewis Teague)

Stephen King’s novels always got a lot of attention from Hollywood producers. Creepshow provided the first opportunity to adapt some of his shorter works, but the better realized portmanteau is Cat’s Eye. The film benefits from King’s own adaptations of two of his very best truncated tales (both culled from the Night Shift collection). “Quitters, Inc.” is a black, black comedy in which James Woods takes extreme measures to stop smoking. Alan King is at his sleazy best as the gangster-like mastermind behind the title clinic, which uses threats of mutilation, rape, and electrocution to help clients kick their nasty habits. It’s a delightfully mean-spirited piece with Woods convincingly conveying the visceral anguish of the tobacco withdrawal that impels him to put himself and his loved ones in mortal danger. The second episode, “The Ledge”, is almost as good, finding crime lord Kenneth McMillan forcing cuckolding-Robert Hays onto the ledge outside his penthouse for a nightmare walk around a skyscraper. Simpler than “Quitters, Inc.”, this is the film’s most nerve-wracking sequence, particularly if you suffer from acrophobia. McMillan gives a performance worthy of a “Batman” villain. The final episode is the film’s sole original piece, and “The General” is a charmingly grim fairytale about a house cat’s duel with a troll for the soul of Drew Barrymore. Cat’s Eye is dated in some respects. Alan Silvestri’s synth score is pure ‘80s cheese. The troll costume is great, but the special effects used to shrink him into scenes with Barrymore are weak. The wraparound in which Barrymore’s apparition goads the cat through each sequence is goofy. But as far as portmanteau’s go, Cat’s Eye is the most consistent, all three episodes being witty, well acted, and likely to satisfy your yen for mid-‘80s nostalgia. Plus, you’ll never hear “96 Tears” the same way again.  

See this piece in context as part of Psychobabble’s Essential Horror Movies of the 1980s here.
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