Cat’s Eye (1985)

Synopsis:

A trio of creepy-funny tales are connected by a stray cat who travels from Manhattan, New York, to Wilmington, North Carolina, in search of a little girl (Drew Barrymore, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) who appears to be in grave danger.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Through the eye of the cat, a twisted tail of macabre suspense.” — movie tagline

It was during the ’80s that Hollywood’s relationship with author Stephen King became official: King movies kept coming, one after another. Some adaptations were great (The Dead Zone and Stand by Me), others were disappointing (Children of the Corn and Firestarter). Good but not great, Cat’s Eye sits comfortably in the middle of the pack — written by King himself, it’s a fun anthology laced with morbid humor.

Quitters, Inc.

The first segment, “Quitters, Inc.” (approx. 30 min.), tells the story of a nicotine addict, Dick Morrison (James Woods, Oliver Stone’s Salvador), who on the advice of a close friend, decides to join a rehab facility aptly named “Quitters Inc.” Morrison soon discovers why the clinic is so successful at helping people kick the habit.

Based on a short story from King’s 1978 book Night Shift, the deliciously mean-spirited “Quitters, Inc.” is a one-joke tale with a memorable punch line. The always intense and manicky Woods is excellent as the compulsive smoker (apart from Bette Davis, no one projects anxiety as well as Woods). The late comedian Alan King (Just Tell Me What You Want) is hilariously machiavellian as the clinic’s overly-dedicated director.

The Ledge

Next is “The Ledge” (approx. 25 min.), which takes place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where ex-tennis pro and gambler Johnny Norris (Robert Hays, Airplane) makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with the wife of a powerful kingpin (Kenneth McMillan, Ragtime). The bitter mafioso forces Norris to accept a deadly bet.

Like “Quitters, Inc.,” this an adaptation of a short story from King’s Night Shift. In a rare dramatic role, Hays is believable as the desperate man who agrees to one crazy bet. McMillan, however, steals the show as the nasty gangster with a personal vendetta against his wife’s lover. Some visual effects show their age, but this is a suspenseful and kind of funny story — the ornery pigeon made me laugh — with a great twist at the end.

General

The last tale, “General” (approx. 30 min.), is the only one King wrote directly for the screen. It’s also my favorite episode. The story is about a young girl, Amanda (Drew Barrymore), who adopts the title’s cat and names him “General.” The fierce tabby helps Amanda battle an evil troll that has been tormenting her.

The practical effects are wonderful. Okay, the matte paintings aren’t perfect, and you can see the cables on several occasions, but who cares? Italian special effects artist Carol Rambild’s (Alien and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) creature looks great, the sets are impressive, little Drew is irresistible and the tabby’s superb “performance” would have made Marlon Brando blush with envy. Candy Clark (American Graffiti) and James Naughton (The Paper Chase) play Barrymore’s parents.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Directed by Lewis Teague (Cujo), Cat’s Eye is the kind of movie I’ve learned to appreciate over multiple viewings. I have to admit that the first time I watched it, I was a little disappointed that it was more funny than scary. Now I know better: Cat’s Eye perfectly captures Stephen King’s outrageous sense of humor. Plus it’s a great movie for cat lovers! Photographed by legendary cameraman Jack Cardiff (Black Narcissus). The music score is by Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future). Color, 94 minutes, Rated PG-13.

20 responses to “Cat’s Eye (1985)

  1. Hi Eric! Getting back into commenting on my favorite sites, while still catching up on your posts with ‘Likes’. This one sounds like a lot of fun…I remember this movie when it was released, but never knew it was an anthology. And I’d read the book Night Shift when I was in high school, so I’m eager to see how those two stories play out…but it’s the third one that interests me the most; very interested to see how the cat protects Drew and battles the troll!

    Anyway, I’ll be searching this one out…thanks for the head’s up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry, I didn’t see your response until now. My apologies. Anyhow, my wife is a huge King fan, so we have most of his books. Cat’s Eye is interesting because King rarely writes screenplays. I believe this is his second script after Creepshow (1982), and curiously, both films have a lot of humor.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review…Stephen King’s cinematic success rate is certainly much lower than the success of his novels…perhaps much of what he writes gets inside your head while a film can’t capture that level of depth…still, many are fun to watch and your review lays that out here!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I missed this one, and I used to be a huge Stephen King fan. My husband and I still quote Christopher Walken in the Dead Zone:
    “The ice….(long pause) is going to BREAK,” lol. Of course, that’s more Christopher’s delivery than Stephen.
    Interesting that Cat’s Eye is full of King’s humor; when you realized later it was intentional, that must have been a nice discovery. I might give this one a viewing now, after your review, if I ever see it floating by on the channels…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never read a King book until I met my wife, who is a big fan of the author. Once I started reading his novels, I realized that King has a morbid sense of humor (Misery is essentially a dark comedy). Cat’s Eye perfectly embodies King’s penchant for cruel jokes.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yeah, Misery really is hilarious in a horrifying way. My husband and I know someone who’s like the Cathy Bates characters–maybe everyone does–so it’s especially scary for us to watch that movie, lol. Eventually I did “fall out of love” with King (for various reasons) but will always remember him fondly for my teens and early 20s. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yeah, and it was sad, too, that Brainstorm could have ended even better. Didn’t they kinda string that ending together because it was all they had? And couldn’t finish due to Natalie Wood’s premature death…? 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • You really can’t really tell that Wood hadn’t finished all her scenes at the time of her death. Since movies are shot out of sequence, I’m assuming that Wood was able to do the ending, but was still needed for something in the middle. I believe they used Wood’s sister for the remaining few scenes.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Yeah, I didn’t notice anything at the time, seeing it in the theater, but as I got older the ending felt a little off and disjointed to me. My husband later pointed out that she had passed during production.
    Louise Fletcher’s character, on the other hand, was a strong female positive role well before the Woke culture. And she didn’t need to pistol whip anyone or strangle men with her thighs, either, lol 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s