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  Uncanny, The Look What The Cat Dragged In
Year: 1977
Director: Denis Héroux
Stars: Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood, Ronald Culver, Susan Penhaligon, Simon Williams, Alexandra Stewart, Donald Pilon, Chloe Franks, Katrina Holden, Renée Girard, Donald Pleasence, Samantha Eggar, John Vernon, Catherine Bégin, Sean McCann
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Wilbur Gray (Peter Cushing) anxiously peers out through his Venetian blinds one night and decides it is safe enough to venture outside so carrying his latest manuscript he heads for his publisher's house. Along the way, he jumps at shadows, but more importantly he jumps at cats, for he has a notion about the creatures which he is planning to share with the world through his writings. Once he reaches the home of publisher Frederick Gray (Ray Milland), he is welcomed but met with scepticism about his subject matter - Wilbur protests his books on UFOs and the Pyramids have sold well, so why not an expose on what our feline friends really have in mind...

Yet another horror anthology from producer Milton Subotsky, and by this time he was either running out of decent material or basic inspiration, because even at half an hour or so for each of the three stories contained herein, they came across as flimsy and overstretched. This was a Canadian and British co-production, but even with the possibilities that such an international endeavour presented this was middling stuff at best. It didn't help that it was hard to see whether the film was for cat lovers or cat haters, as either you would go along with Wilbur's concept, or delight (as much as you could) in the mayhem that the animals wrought here.

Wilbur tells Frederick three tales to illustrate his case, all plucked from the pages of his book. Cushing appeared in Star Wars about the same time he made this, but the difference between that multi-million production with all the success that came with it and this shoddy little affair could not have been greater. Well, it could have been greater, but that would mean Cushing showing up in somebody's home movies shot in their back garden: even so, the achievements in special effects might have been about the same. The first tale is a period piece with Edwardian cat lady Joan Greenwood living alone with her pets, with only her maid (Susan Penhaligon) for human company.

The maid is a shady type who is in cahoots with the old lady's nephew (Simon Williams) to get their hands on her will, but the maid ends up going a bit too far to claim it and smothers her employer when she's discovered up to no good. This instigates, all too predictably, the "throw cats at Susan Penhaligon" phase of the film where she is supposedly attacked by the beasts, and it all works itself out much as you'd expect, that is not very excitingly. Next up Wilbur relates a yarn of a little girl (Katrina Holden) who was adopted by a couple when her parents are killed in a plane crash; her only ally is a pet cat called Wellington, but she soon clashes with the snooty daughter (Chloe Franks) of her new parents.

Again, it's not really the people who get their comeuppance at the paws of the cats who are innocents, and you begin to wonder exactly what Wilbur's problem is as they are depicted as noble avengers if anything. As is the case in the final story, where horror star Donald Pleasence replaces his actress wife with a younger model by deploying a drastic method of bumping her off with a stunt that apparently goes horribly wrong. Samantha Eggar is the girlfriend, and she notices that the deceased woman's cat is still around, and is set on upsetting the apple cart of their future happiness. To all appearances this last instalment is meant to be a comedy, or Pleasence was playing it for laughs at any rate, which makes it a pity that there's not many chuckles to be garnered here - not intentional ones anyway, as the shrinking effects in part two are pretty silly. It all ends with the revelation that cats have psychic powers. Music by Wilfred Josephs.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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