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Wee Three King's
on December 5, 2005
As with most anthology movies, this 1985 flick is rather uneven regarding the quality of the various stories within. Scripted by THE modern horror-meister himself, CAT'S EYE (a.k.a. STEPHEN KING'S CAT'S EYE) features adaptations of two of King's previously published short stories and one original tale, all tied together with a feline-centric wraparound.
The first segment, "Quitter's Inc.," is a dark comedy in which a chronic smoker (James Woods) engages the services of an professional firm to help him break his nasty habit, but he doubts his decision when he learns that the organization's CEO (Alan King) is a former Mob boss who utilizes the "techniques" of his previous profession to "help" current clients. This is definitely the strongest of the three tales.
Segment two, "The Ledge," again involves an underworld kingpin (Kenneth McMillan), this time one who forces his wife's lover (Robert Hays) to engage in a questionable bet. Not as clever nor as interesting as the first story, but not too bad either.
"The General," the final segment of the trio, is about an abnormally intelligent cat who, despite protests from the mother (Candy Clark), "adopts" a family and moves into their rural home. Unbenknownst to the humans, the feline's raison d'etre is to defend the daughter (Drew Barrymore) from the attacks of a wicked woodland troll who has also claimed squatting rights in the home. Definitely the weakest of the three stories--and thematically out of step with the other two--though the animatronics FX for the wee creature are kinda cool.
The final segment is also meant to be the climax of the wraparound, but that might be rather unclear to some viewers. Director Lewis Teague has claimed that the wraparound's prologue was originally longer and made its connection to "The General" much more obvious, but the resulting ambiguity was created by studio-enforced cuts beyond Lewis' control. Pity. The overall movie might have been more cohesive if studio suits had kept their scissors away from the director's and screenwriter's joint vision.
CAT'S EYE is not the best film based on the works of Stephen King, to be sure, but it is still a well-made and entertaining diversion. Jack Cardiff's cinematography is excellent, the editing is top-notch, and the pacing of the stories is good. And director Teague--who earlier directed CUJO (1983), another King adaptation--elicits great performances from most of the cast. Genre buffs, especially fans of writer King, will enjoy spotting all of the self-referential--and often humorously self-deprecating--in-jokes (which include the killer car Christine and a clip from 1983's THE DEAD ZONE, among others). Also watch for the very brief appearance of actor Charles S. Dutton in one of his first screen appearances.
The DVD from Warner seems about as low-budget as the film itself, but it still offers a nice digital transfer of the film in anamorphic widescreen. And unlike a lot of Warner cheapies, there is also an informative feature commentary with director Teague. Well worth amazon.com's VERY reasonable price of admission.