Stephen King's Cat's Eye Film Review

VHS scan courtesy of VHSArchive.blogspot.com
Shockingly, I have no clear memories of watching this, even though I know I did, other than the little troll sitting on a young Drew Barrymore's chest while trying to suck her breath out. That's all I remember about this film and so when I decided to revisit it the other day, I was shocked to learn that it was in fact a horror anthology; 3 different stories all tied together loosely by the cat that is featured prominently in all 3 stories. I recently stumbled upon a VHS tape of this for free, which was welcome since I didn't want to spend on the blu ray not knowing if it's actually any good. So let's dig in.

I will say that I really enjoyed this, but my wife did not. I will also say that I wouldn't call this a horror film, even though it's clearly marketed as one. It's really more of a thriller than anything, with the first 2 stories being so significantly different from the third story, which does fall a bit into the horror genre, but also comes off as silly, which was my wife's biggest complaint. With this being only his second film screenplay written solely by himself after Creepshow (1982), there was a lot riding on his shoulders, which surprises me even more to realize that this isn't even a horror film, but more of a black comedy/thriller. And really, the first 2 stories, one dealing with a smoker who hires a company to help him quit smoking, and the second one about a mob boss type guy who punishes and tortures the man who stole his girlfriend, are gold and easily the best stories in this film. The last one, about a troll who attempts to steal the life force of a young girl while she sleeps, comes so far out of left field compared to the other 2 stories that it kind of throws you for a loop. Personally, I still found it entertaining, because it's a great example of practical effects and makeup work via 1985, and through the talents of Carlo Rombaldi (Dune, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

Directed by Lewis Teague 2 years after his first Stephen King adaptation Cujo, Cat's Eye is a fascinating film for different reasons. I really enjoyed it's mid 80's setting, which adds a lot to it's entertainment value. But it's the cast that really surprised me. For starters, I had no idea James Woods was in this, which automatically elevates this to 100 degrees better than it would have been had he not been in it. But then there's Robert Hay's (TV's Starman, Airplane), Alan King (Casino), Candy Clark (The Man Who Fell to Earth), and a host of other notable character actors, which makes this a pretty fun experience, if anything than for the eclectic cast that all bring their special talents to the table.

Going back to Teague, I've personally never been that much of a fan of his work. To me he comes off as an everyman director. Meaning, he gets the job done, no fuss, no frills. He doesn't possess any particular quality that would easily make his work or films identifiable as a Lewis Teague film. In fact, most people don't even know his name for that very same reason. For the most part, I find his visuals to be fairly bland and highly uninteresting, which only adds to his films being pretty forgettable, which is probably why he began to do straight to video and television stuff after The Jewel of the Nile. That's not to say that Cat's Eye is bad or uninteresting, because it's not. It's just on a visual level, it's got a long way to go to grab you or stimulate your senses aesthetically.

While not a home run, it's certainly a fun film to watch. The performances from a host of respectable actors bring this film to life in more ways than one, and the "thriller" tone, while a surprise, gives the film a big aura of respect. I think a lot of people were probably thrown off by it "not" being a horror film, but I found it amusing and one of this film's many unique qualities. Is it as good as Creepshow? No, not by a long shot. But it's still an interesting and respectable piece of work from a master storyteller.

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