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  Felidae Cat Power
Year: 1994
Director: Michael Schaak
Stars: Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Hess, Gerhard Garbers, Ulrich Wildgruber, Mona Seefried, Manfred Steffen, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Michaela Amler, Christian Schneller, Tobias Lelle, Frank Röth, Alexandra Mink, Klaus Maria Brandauer
Genre: Horror, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Francis the cat (voiced by Ulrich Tukur, or Cary Elwes in the English dub) is moving into a new neighbourhood with his owner, who is a writer of pulp fiction and finds he has to move around a lot to get his inspiration, not something his pet is tremendously keen on, though at least he gets to investigate various places he might not otherwise have had the chance to had he been with a more settled owner. This latest house needs quite a bit of work done to it, but the minute Francis arrives he senses all is not right, as he picks up the strong scent of... what? Something unfamiliar but ominous, that's for sure, and in his wandering about he happens upon another cat in the garden. He is Bluebeard (Mario Adorf or Michael Madsen) and he is surveying a grisly scene...

Author Akif Pirinçci penned a series of novels based on Francis the cat, but as with Martin Rosen's adaptations of Richard Adams' books Watership Down and The Plague Dogs when it came to making a movie of one of the instalments, animation seemed the best method, thus German director Michael Schaak stepped in and took the reins, crafting a cartoon that was decidedly not for little children. But then, who was it for? Possibly fans of the source, but cat lovers who you would imagine would be most interested had to contend with an awful lot of cat slaughter and mutilation if they were going to try to relax with Felidae, which you imagine put off a large percentage of the potential audience.

What you had was a horror story that happened to star cats, presented as a murder mystery with Francis as the gumshoe, visiting various characters and gleaning information from them to better piece together the jigsaw of what is actually happening. It wasn't a conventional mystery as it might have been akin to a film noir, as the ultimate explanation was fairly outlandish, and not something you would have guessed from the beginning, but what appears to be happening is a series of cat killings, and not by humans either. Francis judges by examining the bodies that the toms were sexually aroused when they were killed, and that their throats have been ripped out by claws, pointing the finger (paw?) at one of his fellow kitties as the culprit.

For a while it seemed as if the plot was going to introduce a fresh character every five minutes, which dramatically increases the amount of potential murderers, though it increases the number of potential victims as well - one apparently harmless feline is found with her head ripped from her body, for example. Among those others Francis encounters were a large tom who determines to rape him with the assistance of two of his cheerleading pals, cueing a chase across the town which only ends when they stumble across the tom's girlfriend and mother of his kittens, all of which have been torn apart - although the movie was not wallowing in gore, we were well aware this was pretty brutal stuff for anyone to endure, never mind a cat, the hunters becoming the hunted.

But then there were the decidedly odd elements which lent a particular sensation to some not bad at all animation. For a start, Francis suffers nightmares which strangely point him in the right direction in his investigations, reminiscent of Gerald Scarfe's animations for Pink Floyd The Wall in their grotesquerie, an ocean of cat corpses among them. But in the real world, there were also such instances of weirdness as a cat cult which uses electrical equipment abandoned by some possible clue, where the moggies willingly electrocute themselves to join up and achieve some form of religious ecstasy. It's all grist to Francis's mill as he ploughs on, the more he finds out the more he is pushed forward, though even with the bizarre setpieces you did find yourself balking at such scenes as cats using a computer to check a database of those deaths in the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, there wasn't much exactly like this, not even The Aristocats which this owes a curious debt to and if it was finally too offbeat for most, it did intrigue. Music by Anne Dudley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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