Horror Bites - Meow Mix

CAT'S EYE (1985)

Another day, another Stephen King anthology. Now while I probably complained about Creepshow 2 enough already on here in one guise or another, I promise to be more genial this time around. Sure this still only has three chapters, something I can never entirely forgive in a series of vignettes no matter how interesting they are. But with a little working out and some good pacing they can still be enjoyable. Like in Three Faces of Evil this collection has its qualities distributed rather unevenly, but they're still well worth your consideration.

The trio of tales presented here are all varied enough to keep things entertaining, and they maintain a consistent tone with plenty of dark humour throughout. The main issue I have with this format is that the sort of narrative it allows is usually not quite enough material to be satisfying in three parts (which could have been fleshed out as a double feature ala Two Evil Eyes) but at the same time it lacks the variety and quick fire feeling you get with, say five chapters. However with a fun cast and a few memorable ideas it just about pulls it off.

The first tale is by far the strongest. In part one, Quitters Inc. Dick Morrison (James Woods) begrudgingly joins an organisation which wants him to quit smoking, whether he likes it or not. Maybe he should have noticed that their slogan is 'the final solution' and given nicotine patches a try instead. It's full of weird mean spirited comedy as the company threatens him with a variety of incentives. And when I say him, I mean by proxy since his failure to comply will result in his wife and even his daughter being grabbed and put in a special room made just for the occasion. It's full of paranoid scenes in which company employees spy on him and he tries to avoid temptation. The best of these moments is a house party where he hallucinates to the sound of Every Breath You Take by The Police. It's a twisted and relatable idea, the kind that works best because it includes just enough real life.

The mid-section story is similar in that regard, with an ex-tennis pro Johnny (Robert Hays) being forced into a life or death game by wager loving crime boss Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) who caught him trying to run away with his wife. The scenario here is that he lives in a rather tall penthouse, and so after a little blackmail Johnny is forced out onto the building exterior where he must complete one lap of the narrow outside ledge. There are a lot of fun moments including a climb around a neon sign and a wildly territorial pigeon, as well as some nice '80s perspective effects. However this feels a bit too farcical at times, with Cressner testing his victim with things like a bicycle horn and a water hose. However it still retains some sense of a heightened reality, despite some of these elements draining the tension.

The finale gives up on this idea and drives straight into fantasy with a little girl (Drew Barrymore) and her cat trying to fend of a gnome of some kind that lives inside her bedroom wall. It's a neat movie creature, with a great combo of a Frank Welker voice and a Carlo Rambaldi puppet. There's a lot of expressive features to it, though it does come off as a bit too silly towards the end. One moment where it tries to escape using a balloon is particularly cartoonish, but still pretty amusing. The thread hanging all these stories together, the titular cat, gets more to do here - although all the weird visions of the girl in the previous chapter interludes are still a bit puzzling. Was the it cat seeing the future in a shop window, or was the kid unconsciously calling for help via TV before it was needed? Who can say. It results in a lot of miniature troll mayhem just the same.

Overall this is a fun trip to take, though it's not the greatest anthology movie or the best King adaptation. It retains a lot of his usual character traits and the black comedy without being too dark, and each segment is unique. There are some great effects, and a few good visuals, but the music is unrecognisable as an Alan Silvestri score. I suppose it's fine, at least it's not yet another riff on Back to the Future. There are a few nods to other stories like Christine which are fun to spot as well as, and overall it's a watchable addition that doesn't take itself too seriously.