[Happy 30th Birthday!] Cat’s Eye (1985)

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Director: Lewis Teague

Cast: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark

Screenplay: Stephen King

94 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

A cat named General is on a mission in this adaptation of two Stephen King stories with an all new tale from the master of horror. The three stories are linked by General making his way to a little girl named Amanda (Drew Barrymore, Donnie Darko, Blended). In the first story, “Quitters, Inc.”, Dick Morrison (James Woods, Once Upon a Time in America, White House Down) has a problem: smoking. He needs to quit and he needs to do it now. Quitters, Inc. is the place to go, though the man in charge, Dr. Vinny Donatti (Alan King, Casino, Rush Hour 2), has some very unique methods in ensuring that his clientele quit for good. In “The Ledge”, Johnny Norris (Robert Hays, Airplane!, Sharknado 2: The Second One) has been kidnapped by Cressner (Kenneth McMillan, Amadeus, Dune), a wealthy gambler who has discovered Norris sleeping with his wife. Cressner challenges Norris to a bet: walk around the ledge outside Cressner’s penthouse or die trying. Finally, in “General”, our cat has made it to the home of Amanda, who is being hunter by a troll who wants to kill her in her sleep, and only General can stop it. Lewis Teague (The Jewel of the Nile, Navy Seals) directs and Stephen King (A Good Marriage, Desperation) himself writes in this heightened reality collection of stories which celebrates thirty years today, but is it good?

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I say yes. Cat’s Eye is quirky and goofy and classic King. Few films choose to display King’s twisted sense of humor the right way like this one. I saw a lot of dreamlike sequences like one where Dick has been without cigarettes long enough to be seeing them in the mouths of everyone he encounters at a party. James Rebhorn plays Morrison’s work partner as he lights up a dozen cigarettes all at once while dancing packs of smokes encircle the struggling addict. It is chilling and a little silly and amazing. Any fan of King’s work should be sold on this film.

It doesn’t help to have some great performances from genre actors like James Woods and Robert Hays. Teague knows his target audience here as well, and he crafted what could be construed as an early attempt at a shared universe with references to Cujo and Christine. More than anything, it’s a lot of fun.

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Cat’s Eye is a mostly enjoyable experience with callbacks to some of King’s more iconic work. With a tonally perfect screenplay from the master of horror himself, some of King’s stranger work makes it to the screen in one piece, mostly. Now it isn’t perhaps as scary as it could be, but it still works. I would like to see this film immortalized as part of a possible Stephen King shared universe (and yes, there is currently one being worked out with the impending Dark Tower adaptations). Enjoy this film for what it is: a piece of 80s candy.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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