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  Cat's Eye That Darn CatBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark, James Naughton, Mary D'Arcy, Tony Munafo, James Rebhorn, Jesse Doran, Patricia Kalember, Mike Starr, Charles S. Dutton, Court Miller, Russell Horton, Frank Welker
Genre: Horror
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: A tabby cat is wandering the streets, minding its own business, when suddenly a large, fierce St Bernard dog starts chasing after it; after narrowly avoiding being runover by a vintage red car, this is all the cat needs and it does its best to escape. Eventually, with the dog in hot pursuit, the cat hides by leaping into a the back of a delivery truck, and stays there until the truck reaches its destination. Now on the streets once more, the cat stops by a shop window, strangely drawn to the mannequin of a little girl and to its surprise sees an image of a real girl (Drew Barrymore) calling for help. However, before the cat can do anything, it is caught by a man with a cage, and taken to the offices of Quitters, Inc., a very specialised anti-smoking, self help business...

Back in the seventies, the king of the horror movie anthology, Milton Subotsky, bought a bunch of short stories from Stephen King's Night Shift collection with a view to turning them into, yes, a horror movie anthology. One thing led to another and Subotsky eventually sold the rights to these to Dino de Laurentiis, who put into production this effort, which was scripted by King himself (he may have been supposed to direct at one point as well, but passed on the offer). The first two stories were from Night Shift, but with Firestarter star Barrymore in mind, King wrote an original story for her, which would round off the film.

The first story is arguably the best, with Dick Morrison (James Woods) visiting Quitters, Inc. on the recommendation of a friend, but unsettled when sitting in reception and filling out the application form as a current customer sits sobbing with his head in his hands, only for the man's wife to emerge from an office in a terrible state. When the head of the organisation, the smiling but sinister Dr Donatti (Alan King, excellent), takes him inside, the doors are locked and Donatti demonstrated what will happen to, not Dick, but his wife if he fails to give up smoking: she will be placed in a room with an electric floor and tortured. These anti-nicotine campaigners are fanatical and Woods' swift descent into jittery paranoia is very amusing to watch, as well as being a neat commentary on the dangers of passive smoking and simultaneously a spoof of anti-smokers taking their cause too far.

The second story is a story of another addiction, gambling this time, where millionaire businessman Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) takes drastic action when he finds out his trophy wife is having an affair with washed up tennis player Johnny Norris (Robert Hays). After capturing Norris, Cressner and his henchmen offer him a wager: if Norris can climb completely around the ledge near the top of the high rise apartment block they are in, he gets the money, the wife and his life; if not, well, he'll be dead anyway. Apparently inspired by Harold Lloyd in Safety Last, this bit is pretty good, but there's never really any question that Norris will win the bet. Finally, the original story could just as easily been written as a children's tale, where the cat heeds the little girl's call and comes to the rescue when a diminutive troll tries to steal her breath while she sleeps, and despite getting the blame for eating the girl's budgie he goes into battle. The troll, designed by Carlo Rambaldi, is a fine creation, even if the effects work to make him seem tiny is obvious, but this story is too slight to leave the film on a high note. Nevertheless, Cat's Eye is diverting, although the linking theme following the cat's adventures is weak. Music by Alan Silvestri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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