In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_yevugpgxeuwoic0uu8txgdqcmc2

This Is Where I Leave You

The family gathering comedy is one of the more difficult genres to pull off. Good for Levy for trying something different. But next time he…

Thumb_zero_theorem_ver4

The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Cat's Eye

  |  

In the first of the three stories in "Cat's Eye," James Woods wants to stop smoking. So he goes to a Smokequitters clinic run by Alan King, who locks the door behind him and demonstrates a sadistic torture chamber: A cat is placed on a steel mesh floor, and electric shocks make it leap crazily around the room.

"I don't think I understand," Woods says. "If I don't stop smoking, you'll shock a cat?"

Not a cat," says King. "Your wife. If you have a second slip, we put your daughter in there. The third time ... well, only about 5 percent of our clients ever have a third slip."

The crazy unreality of the situation has a "Twilight Zone" sort of appeal, and indeed "Cat's Eye" is a superior Twilight-style anthology of three stories that are held together by the adventures of the cat. It's a small, scrappy tabby that survives not only electric shock (actually only special effects, so don't call the ASPCA), but also city traffic, falls from high buildings, one-way tickets to the pound, and a duel to the death with a gremlin who lives behind a little girl's bedroom wall.

The first story is about the smoker, who doesn't really believe that Alan King's spies are everywhere, until he finds a man in his downstairs closet. The second story, starring Robert Hayes and Kenneth McMillan, keys off of our fear of heights, as McMillan forces Hayes to walk along a narrow ledge all the way around a skyscraper. In one hair-raising moment borrowed from Harold Lloyd, Hayes grabs an electric sign that rips loose from the building and dangles him above the street far below. The special effects in this scene are effective, too; it really does look as if Hayes is hanging above a sickening drop.

The third story is the best, however. It's told from the point of view of a little girl (Drew Barrymore) who just knows that there is a creature living behind her bedroom wall. Her parents think she's making it up. Meanwhile, the long-suffering tabby arrives at Barrymore's suburban home, and invites itself inside. The parents say she can't keep the cat; they feed her all those tall tales about how cats steal the breath of sleeping children. But in a thrilling climax, the cat battles the nasty little creature as the girl looks on.

All three of the stories in "Cat's Eye" depend on special effects: The electric room, the high-rise terror, the little gremlin (made by Carlo Rambaldi, who also constructed E.T. and King Kong). The special effects are effective and understated, allowing the foreground to be occupied by some of our basic human fears, of pain for loved ones, of falling from a great height, of suffocation. Stephen King seems to be working his way through the reference books of human phobias, and "Cat's Eye" is one of his most effective films.

Popular Blog Posts

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all

As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Scorsese Receives Golden Thumb at TIFF Ebert Tribute

A photo gallery offering snapshots from The Ebert Dinner at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus