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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_nnkx3ahyot7p3au92dnglf4pkwa

The Congress

"The Congress" is a roll call of the orgiastic pleasures and bountiful comforts that art provides, and, a reminder of what waits for us when…

Thumb_as_above_so_below_xlg

As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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

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

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

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

Different rules apply

White privilege, lived.

Ferguson, Missouri: Third World America vs. Atlas Shrugged

An FFC looks at the horrible situation in Ferguson, MO and what it says about where we are and where we're going.

Interview: Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse on what Hollywood’s love of blockbusters means for the rest of us

An interview with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse, author of “Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, ...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus