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Author Topic: Cat's Eye  (Read 8895 times)
The King of Koosh!
Bad Movie Lover

Karma: 39
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Must have caffeine...

« on: January 04, 2007, 03:42:42 PM »

First and foremost, to those of you who dislike lengthy spoiler-heavy recaps, go no further. 'Cause this is gonna be another one. :)

Name of the Movie: Cat's Eye (1985)
Rated: PG-13
Rating: 4 slimes

The Cat - Just your average feline, on a quest to get to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Dick Morrison - James Woods! A smoker who is trying to quit, but not hard enough.
Vinnie Donatti - Alan King! The man in charge of Quitters Inc., he really hates cigarettes.
Johnny Norris - A young tennis pro who finds himself in deep trouble when he fools around with a vicious gambler's wife.
Cressner - Kenneth McMillan! The aforementioned gambler. Becomes one with the sidewalk.
Amanda - Drew Barrymore! A little North Carolinian girl who adopts the cat and names him "General."
Sally Ann - Amanda's mom, who hates cats.
Hugh - Amanda's dad, who is a little more openminded than his wife.
The Troll - Frank Welker! Well, his voice anyway. Nasty little critter who likes to suck out children's breath. Chopped up in a fan.

My latest little attempt at an interesting review. Cat's Eye is an anthology film, featuring three (relatively) short segments telling different stories, similar to Creepshow. The script was written by Stephen King, and two of the segments are based on short stories of his; the final segment (as well as the framing story) are wholly original to the movie. The segments are hit-and-miss, but I'll get into why in due time. Right now, let us begin...

Fittingly the movie opens with a close-up of a cat's eye opening. The owner of said eye, a male tabby, is seen wandering through a typical suburban neighborhood in what is, according to the director's commentary, Wilmington, North Carolina. There's a deleted prologue that ties into the final segment, but I'll tackle that later. Anyway the cat runs afoul of a very mean-looking St. Bernard (a referance to Cujo) that proceeds to chase him for some distance. Both animals are almost run over by an antique red car with a bumper sticker that says "I am Christine." Oy. Thankfully these are, as far as I know, the last two nudge-nudge, wink-wink referances to past Stephen King stories/films. Anyway in order to escape from the dog pursuing him, the cat ends up hiding in the back of a big truck. Unfortunately for our feline friend, some guys close the back doors, unknowingly trapping him inside. The truck, we soon see, is bound for New York City, and upon its arrival the cat hurriedly escapes and is soon wandering aimlessly around the Big Apple.

He pauses when he sees the ghostly reflection of a little girl in a store window, pleading for the cat to help her. She then disappears, and we officially begin our first segment as a big goon by the name of Junk happens upon the cat, and puts him in a cat carrier, then walks inside of an office building. The ghostly little girl is the first of several roles in the film played by a young Drew Barrymore, and her appearance here and another scene later are pretty confusing without the deleted prologue, so I'll do everyone a favor and explain. Originally the film opened (after the close-up of the cat's eye I assume) with the cat belonging to a North Carolina family. The mom and dad awaken to find that their young daughter (the girl in the reflection) died mysteriously during the night, and while the father tries, in vain, to revive his child, the mother, blaming the cat due to the old superstition of cats stealing children's breath while you sleep, comes after the poor kitty with her husband's gun and chases him from the house, whereupon, I'm assuming, he would've run into the St. Bernard, and etc. This prologue was deleted from the film without director Lewis Teague's permission, despite the preview audience's positive reaction to it.

Anyway, our first segment is entitled "Quitters Inc." It is my least favorite of the three segments. We begin with two men pulling up to the office building that Junk went into. One of them is Dick Morrison, played by James Woods. Dick is a smoker, and his friend is trying to persuade him to join a program called Quitters Inc., and after some jibber-jabber, Dick goes in. Finding the Quitters Inc. office, he has a seat in the waiting room and begins to fill out a questionaire of some sort. It is here that we immediately begin to notice that something is amiss, as there is another man in the waiting room, identified in the credits as "Mr. Milquetoast," and he's crying. Dick rather tactlessly takes out a cigarette to smoke it (this is not the last stupid, tactless thing Dick will do), and Mr. Milquetoast reacts to it with such horror and despair that Dick is persuaded to put the thing away.

Mr. Milquetoast's wife is then led out of the back by Junk, the guy who captured our feline friend earlier, and she looks like she's been beaten up. When her husband tries to comfort her, she proceeds to start hitting him with her purse, and then they leave. Dick is understandably weirded out, and is about to leave himself when the guy in charge, a Mr. Donatti, comes out and greets him. Donatti is a small but tough-looking guy who is relentlessly, eerily cheerful, and he takes a protesting Dick back into his oddly dark office.

They sit, and Donatti examines the form Dick filled out, and comments that he didn't fill out the part where Dick's daughter goes to school. Dick replies that where his daughter goes to school has no bearing on whether Quitters Inc. can help him quit smoking. Donatti then asks if Dick has any cigarettes on them, and Dick, tactlessly, misunderstands and offers Donatti one (!). Donatti, instead, takes the entire pack, and proceeds to fly into a temper tantrum and utterly destroy all of the cigarettes, pounding on them and ripping them apart, before returning to his usual cheerful self. Dick has had enough, and tries to leave, only to find the door locked. Donatti says he has "a real problem," then uses a remote control to open some curtains revealing one-way glass looking into a room with a metal floor. Here, we find the cat.

Pressing another button, the song "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles begins playing on speakers inside the room, and the floor suddenly becomes electrified, forcing the poor cat to "dance," i.e. jump to and fro wildly in an effort to escape the shocks. Dick responds to this by trying to take the remote away from Donatti to stop the animal's torture, but Donatti proves to be remarkably strong and overpowers him, forcing him to sit back down. He turns off the music and the electrified floor, and explains that the cat is fine. It wasn't a very high voltage.

then starts to explain how things work at Quitters Inc. Once you join their program, you aren't released from it until you have successfully kicked the habit. Dick will be supervised day and night constantly, and if any of Donatti's men see him smoking... well, Dick interrupts him and asks if he'll be put in "the cat room." Donatti says no, he won't. But his wife will be! He even explains that he keeps "a very disturbed individual" on his payroll for the purpose of brutally raping clients' wives as punishment for relapses. To say that Quitters Inc.'s methods are militant would be an understatement.

Later that night, Dick, at home, is acting strangely. He's watching The Dead Zone on TV (I stand corrected about those referances going away) and keeps thinking back to everything that Donatti said earlier, and gets startled by his wife, Cindy, spilling his drink all over himself. Wondering aloud about "who writes this s**t," indicating the movie, he stalks into the kitchen and begins preparing to binge on ice cream. Cindy, concerned, asks him what's wrong, and he tells her he's quit smoking. She doesn't believe him at first but he's eventually able to convince her. He says he doesn't think he'll be able to do it, but she says she'll love him even if he doesn't make it.

Later that night, Dick is lying awake in bed as a thunderstorm rages outside. Proving that he either doesn't believe Donatti or is just plain stupid, he sneaks downstairs (startling himself when he sees his own reflection in a mirror), and goes into his at-home office and begins digging through one of the drawers in his desk. We're never told precisely what it is Dick does for a living, but he's apparently a businessman of some description. He finds a pack of cigarettes and puts one into his mouth, strikes a match, and is about to light up when the nearby closet door creaks open a bit.

Cautiously, Dick grabs an umbrella and walks over, opening the door. A golf bag falls out and Dick proceeds to hit it several times with the umbrella before he realizes what he's doing and stops. Angrily, he throws the umbrella into the closet and hears an "Oof!" sound. It quickly becomes apparent that there is someone in the closet after all, as Dick notices a pair of wet rain boots standing there, their owner hidden behind the racks of clothes. The guy never actually emerges, and this scene bothers me immensely because of this. Dick even talks to him (although the man does not talk back), assuring him he didn't actually light the cigarette and claming he only came downstairs for the golf bag, which he then picks up and carries hurriedly from the room.

The next morning, Cindy awakens to find the golf bag lying next to her in bed (!), and, downstairs, Dick finds the closet door closed again. He opens it and discovers that the boots are no longer there, and just when he seems to be entertaining the notion that he was imagining things, he notices some muddy footprints on the floor. While he's stooped down examining them, Cindy comes in, probably to ask him why his golf bag is in their bed, and scares the living bejesus out of her husband. Needless to say, Dick is really on edge at this point, and he's only going to get worse.

Later, Dick drives to where his daughter goes to school before heading to work. His reason for coming here is to give her a doll he bought her for a present. And yes, the girl (whose name I didn't catch) is played by Drew Barrymore, although she's pretty unrecognizable with large glasses. While they're talking, Dick happens to glance over and notice none other than Mr. Donatti standing there in the parking lot of the school. So Donatti followed him, and now the Quitters Inc. people know where his daughter goes to school. Way to go, Dick. Sending his daughter off to class, Dick confronts Donatti and tells him about the man in his closet, and then assures him he didn't smoke the cigarette. Donatti says if Dick had smoked it, they wouldn't be here, they'd be down at his office watching his wife "dance" in the "cat room." After some more angry words between the two, Dick gets into his car and drives off as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police starts up.

Cut to Dick at some sort of company party where it seems like everyone is smoking but him. He's being pestered by a co-worker to have a cigarette despite his repeated refusals (the friend is more than a little smashed), and this leads into a very disturbing hallucination sequence which kicks off with Dick looking at another co-worker blowing smoke out of his mouth, only it becomes an impossibly endless stream. Then suddenly the first co-worker has cigarettes up his nose and smoke coming out of his ears (!), and a waiter offers him a platter of food containing eyeballs (!!), and then Dick sees a painting of a man smoking a cigarette blowing smoke out of his nose. Then, I kid you not, giant cigarette packs with human legs dance past Dick, and then we get the grand finale as Dick looks over and sees Donatti, in a scary 1970s Saturday Night Fever get up, dancing and singing along to Every Breath You Take (which means, I guess, the song is playing at the party, otherwise the movie has just broken the fourth wall and is acknowledging the existence of disembodied music on the soundtrack).

Luckily, soon the nightmarish party ends and we cut to Dick driving home from work, looking understandably stressed out. He soon becomes even more stressed out when he gets caught in traffic waiting from a drawbridge to lower and the casette tape in his car's stereo gets ruined. This turns into a very mild version of what happens to Bill Foster at the beginning of Falling Down, only instead of leaving his car and going on a killing spree, Dick just finds a pack of cigarettes in the glovebox and proceeds to finally cave and light up. He does glance around before doing so, but he doesn't know what all of Donatti's men look like (he never even saw the guy in the closet), so this strikes me as rather stupid. He tries to be clever and duck down under the dashboard to smoke it, snickering to himself, but I'd think this would only draw more attention to himself.

Finally traffic starts moving again, and Dick puts the cigarette out, and then notices that the guy in the convertible next to him is looking at him. It's Junk, the Quitters Inc. man from the beginning of the segment. He smirks and tips his hat at Dick, then speeds off. Uh-oh. Sure enough, Dick races home to discover that the house has been broken into, dinner is burning on the stove, and Cindy is nowhere to be found! Suddenly the phone rings, and Dick answers it. It's Donatti. Cheerfully, he makes an appointment for Dick to come down to his office.

Upon arriving at the Quitters Inc. offices, Dick is immediately seized by Junk and dragged into Donatti's office where the big man himself is waiting. We see that the cat is now in a cat carrier sitting on Donatti's desk. After some weak arguments from Dick, Donatti activates the remote-controlled curtains that open up to reveal Cindy inside the room with the metal floor that Donatti's office looks in on. Dick makes a bid to free his wife by using a chair to hit the glass, which proves remarkably strong, and Junk attempts to stop him by pulling a gun, but Dick knocks the weapon from his hand, and, during the struggle, the pet carrier is knocked off the desk and breaks open, freeing the cat who immediately runs out of the room. Junk seems more interested in recapturing the cat at first, forcing Donatti to wrestle with Dick to prevent him from getting the gun, and it finally reaches the point that Donatti yells for his stupid henchman to forget about the damn cat and get the freakin' gun.

Junk complies, and Dick's efforts at heroics come to a screeching halt. The two men then force him to have a seat, and we get a repeat of the "cat dancing" scene earlier, only this time with a different song (which I'm told is called "96 Tears") and Cindy in place of the cat. This goes on for some length and when Donatti finally stops, poor Cindy's hair is all frazzled and she's extremely distressed, to say the least. But Donatti assures Dick that she is unharmed. For now. Next time he "slips up," she won't be so lucky. A short time after this, we find Donatti and Junk watching Dick and Cindy out in the waiting room on closed-circuit TV, and Junk bets his boss $20 that Cindy'll slap him after he's done explaining things, a bet he loses when Cindy instead embraces Dick.

Cut to the cat, now a stowaway on a ferry going downriver. Then, cut back to the Quitters Inc. offices where it's apparent that some time has passed. Dick is being weighed on a scale by Donatti in a doctor's examination room, and Donatti is explaining that sometimes smokers who quit gain weight in the weeks following their quitting, so Donatti gives Dick some (illegal) diet pills to help keep him thin, and warns him that if he gains any weight past a set limit, then he'll send someone around to his house to cut off his wife's little finger. Cut, again, to some time later, where Dick and Cindy are having a dinner party at their house with the friend who took Dick to Quitters Inc. back at the beginning of the segment. Dick and the friend toast Quitters Inc., and when the friend's wife also raises her glass to toast, Dick notices with horror that she's missing her pinky finger.

And that's it. That's the end. Really. There isn't really much of a resolution to Quitters Inc., after all that buildup. And that's not the only reason I like this segment least of all. James Woods is a talented actor, and his character Dick is not a bad man, he's just... really freakin' stupid and tactless. At every turn he makes it painfully obvious he does not take Donatti and Quitters Inc. seriously, and you'd think he would've learned his lesson after discovering someone hiding in his closet, but then he lights up on the freeway in plain sight of dozens of other motorists, any one of whom could be a Quitters Inc. spy. But now it's time for segment number two, which is thankfully a vast improvement over this one.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2007, 03:59:35 PM by Kooshmeister » Logged
The King of Koosh!
Bad Movie Lover

Karma: 39
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Must have caffeine...

« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 03:44:20 PM »

"The Ledge" begins with the cat arriving in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and after being fed a hot dog by a homeless man he wanders through the crowds on the boardwalk and eventually experiences another vision in a store window with that ghostly little girl telling him he "has to get back" and "stop it." We then cut to a man named Cressner leaving a casino. Cressner is, obviously, a gambler, and a very successful one at that. He leaves the casino with his friend Richard and Richard's bubble-headed girlfriend, and they see the cat across the street, watching cars go speeding past, waiting for an opportunity to pass. It becomes obvious that Cressner will bet on anything, as he bets Richard a sum of $2,000 (I think that was it) that the cat can make it. Richard says he's on, and starts calling to the cat, trying to make him cross the street.

Strangely, the cat does not respond to Richard's loud calls, but, instead, bolts when Cressner softly whispers for him to come on. Remarkably, the cat avoids becoming roadkill, and, naturally, causes several fender-benders as the cars swerve to avoid him and slam into one another. Now that he's $2,000 richer thanks to the cat, Cressner decides to adopt him and call him "Sebastian." After saying goodnight to Richard and his lady friend, Cressner goes to his limo and consults with his chauffeur-cum-henchman, Albert, and asks him how "Ducky" is doing. As we'll soon learn, Cressner's trophy wife Marcia has been sleeping around with a teenis player named Johnny Norris, and Cressner, suspecting that the two plan to skip town together, has got his henchmen following them. When Albert says they've got Johnny and Marcia in their crosshairs, Cressner tells him to tell them to "nail the bastard."

Cut to a bus station. Johnny buys Marcia a ticket, and puts her on a bus. He doesn't go with her because at the moment he doesn't have enough money for them to start a new life with. Knowing what kind of a man her husband is, Johnny wants to get her out of Atlantic City first and foremost, and then, after cleaning out his account at the local bank, he'll follow. Unfortunately Johnny never makes it to the bank. As a matter of fact, he never even makes it to his car. For as he returns to the parking lot, he finds two men messing around with said automobile. They are Ducky and Dom, two of Cressner's minions. Ducky is a big, burly man, and it took me a while to fathom why he's called this, but then I finally noticed his Donald Duck T-shirt. Anyway, seeing the two goons screwing around with his car, Johnny yells, "Hey!", to which Ducky replies, "Hey is for horses, sometimes for cows. Pigs don't eat it 'cause they don't know how." He then slugs Johnny and knocks him out, and then he and the other guy promptly kidnap him.

When Johnny awakens he's arrived at the downtown highrise where Cressner lives and Ducky is pulling him out of the car. In the process, Johnny hits his head and yells "Hey!" again, promptly Ducky to repeat the "pigs don't eat it 'cause they don't know how" line and sock him in the jaw. Albert the chauffeur appears and tells him that when Ducky says that, it means shut up. Albert drives Johnny's car into the building's parking garage, while Ducky takes Johnny upstairs to Cressner's penthouse apartment on the thirtieth floor of the building. Cressner sits Johnny down and gives him the skinny: as they speak, Albert is planting a bag of heroin in the trunk of Johnny's car, and in an hour's time he will call the police and tip them off about it, unless he hears otherwise from Cressner. This means, of course, that Johnny has a way to avoid jail, but it's likely he isn't gonna like it.

Cressner takes Johnny out onto the balcony of the apartment and shows him a five-inch ledge a couple of feet down which we can see runs the entire width of the building. Cressner makes a bet with his wife's illicit lover that if he can circumnavigate the ledge before time runs out, Cressner will call Albert and tell him not to call the cops, and then Johnny and Marcia can go off and live happily ever after together. Johnny, of course, initially refuses, but when he tries to go back inside he finds his path blocked by Ducky, and it quickly becomes obvious that he doesn't have a choice. Around this time, the cat reappears, rubbing against Johnny's leg. Noticing this, Cressner says that "Sebastian" seems to like him, so this is probably a lucky sign for Johnny. Johnny asks Cressner if he welshes on his bets, and Cressner chuckles and says no, of course not, but when Johnny turns to look down at the ledge again, he doesn't notice Cressner waggling his eyebrows at Ducky. Obviously, he's got something planned.

So Johnny climbs over the railing of the balcony and down onto the ledge. Cressner says he's pretty sure Johnny hasn't got the guts to go through with it, and wouldn't be surprised if he just stood there for a while and then chickened out and climbed back up. Johnny replies by giving him the finger, which Cressner grabs, almost making him lose his balance. He releases Johnny's finger, and Johnny begins his precarious journey. After throwing his bathrobe at Johnny in an effort to make him fall ("Just keepin' you on your toes!"), Cressner runs back inside the apartment, tripping over the cat in the process, and runs into his bedroom and begins digging through the closet for something.

Outside, Johnny makes it about halfway and rounds the first corner of the building. He comes upon two windows. He tries to open the first but finds it locked, and as he moves on, the curtains part to reveal Cressner. Coming to the second window, Johnny finds this one unlocked and opens it, but when he parts the curtains he finds himself face to face with Ducky who grins and punches his fist into his open palm threateningly. Suddenly Cressner leans out of the other window with a big bicycle horn, which he blows right in Johnny's ear, scaring the hell out of him. Johnny falls backwards, grabbing onto the curtains, and they rip off and he takes them with him as he falls. Luckily, he lands on another, wider ledge a few feet down, barely avoiding plummetting to an untimely doom. He yells up at Cressner, calling him a son of a b***h, and after telling him he's just "keepin' you on your toes!" again, Cressner throws the bicycle horn down at him. Johnny watches it fall past him and land on the sidewalk thirty stories below, and, after untangling himself from the curtains, climbs back up to the main five-inch ledge.

Inside, Cressner and Ducky, laughing their asses off, leave the apartment. The cat hisses at them, prompting Cressner to wonder where the feline's sense of humor is. Why the villains are leaving the apartment will become apparent in a bit. Back outside, Johnny's slow journey continues, and he suddenly finds himself being harrassed by a pigeon which lands at his feet and begins relentlessly pecking at his ankle despite all of his attempts to nudge it away with his foot. This bit is very wince-inducing, especially since the vile bird bloodies up Johnny's ankle quite a bit. Finally, Johnny makes it to a small alcove where he can sit down to rest, but before he does, he braces himself and, calling the pigeon a "flying s**thouse," proceeds to end its life with a fierce kick and a puff of feathers. He plops down to rest, but he doesn't get to relax for long before Cressner appears on the rooftop above him, aiming a fire hose down at him.

Cressner squirts Johnny with the hose, soaking him. Turning off the flow, he explains that the valve was only half-open that time, and that unless Johnny moves his ass, he'll turn it on full-force and "blow you outta this hole!" With little other choice but to continue, Johnny complies and once more begins slowly inching his way around the building. After remaining where he is for a while, making sure he's not trying to pull a fast one, Cressner giggles insanely and runs back inside again. Jeez. I've seen some sick twisted people in movies, but I think the only character that comes close to Cressner here is Leslie Nielson as Richard Vickers in "Something to Tide You Over" in Creepshow.

Johnny manages to make it completely around the building, and now only has a big neon sign between himself and the balcony of Cressner's penthouse, where Cressner himself, cigar clenched between his teeth, is looking on with the cat. As Johnny tries to climb over the sign, one of the letters gives way under his weight and he almost falls to his death, but manages to grab ahold of a dangling wire and climb back up to the ledge. From here on in, it's smooth sailing for our hero, and Cressner seems to realize this. Furious, he storms back into the apartment. The cat follows him, and we see, from the feline's P.O.V., that Cressner is discussing something with Albert the chauffeur. He's instructing him to take something out of a cooler and put into a bag, and then to come into the room when he says "All right, all right, Mr. Norris." Seems Cressner has a backup plan in case Johnny actually succeeded.

Making it onto the balcony, Johnny collapses from exhaustion and lays there for a moment, before getting to his feet and going inside. Here, he finds Cressner standing alongside the bag we saw a moment ago. Cressner says his line and Albert enters holding a pistol equipped with a silencer. Cressner then proceeds to kick the bag at his feet over, and out of it rolls Marcia's severed head! Johnny is appropriately shocked, and Cressner smugly says he's giving him his wife just as he promised. But it seems he isn't the brightest bulb, since he failed to anticipate that Johnny might, y'know, be angry that Cressner killed his girlfriend and cut off his head. He has the temerity to look surprised when Johnny attacks him and knocks him to the floor. Albert moves to shoot Johnny, but gets tripped up by the cat, dropping the pistol.

Both he and Johnny go for the gun at the same time and struggle over it. Johnny wins out, knocking Albert to the floor. The chauffeur jumps up and runs for the front door, and is in the process of opening it when Johnny shoots him twice in the back in cold blood. Ouch. With the door open, and seeing that Johnny can apparently take things from here, the cat leaves the apartment, jumping over Albert's body in the process. I don't know where Ducky went. He just sort of disappeared. Oh well. With the danger over, Johnny angrily turns the gun to Cressner who cowers and offers him a buttload of money in exchange for sparing his life. He acts like he's offering him a sweet deal, but Johnny's got other ideas. Rather than just shoot Cressner right there, he's gonna turn the tables on 'im. He looks past him, and Cressner turns his head, following Johnny's gaze to the balcony, and then he looks back at Johnny with a "You've gotta be joking!" look of horror on his face. I think you can all see where this is going.

Yep, we then cut to Cressner on the ledge as Johnny covers him from the balcony with the pistol. Cressner continues blubbering about giving Johnny anything, any amount of money he wants. Johnny's reply to Cressner's pleas is to simply say, "You're right, Mr. Cressner, this is a lot of fun," and shoot at his feet to "keep him on his toes" and get him moving. Cressner, now more angry than afraid, more or less vows to get Johnny for this and begins scooting across the ledge. Down below on the street, we see the cat exit the building. Out on the sidewalk, he pauses to sniff at the dropped bicycle horn from before as, above him, Cressner reaches the first corner of the building and suddenly begins getting pecked at by another annoying pigeon. Like Johnny, he tries and fails to kick the bird away, and, in doing so, loses his balance and proves unable to regain it, falling over backwards off the ledge. The cat runs and hides under a parked car as Cressner plummets towards the sidewalk and, just by sheer happenstance, lands on the bicycle horn, his departure from the world of the living signified by a loud toot.

We then segue into the movie's third and final segment, entitled "The General." As to The Ledge, I really liked it a lot. It really struck me as being something out of a good Alfred Hitchcock thriller, and possessed just the right amount of suspense, comedy, and violence, plus a fun villain you can love to hate in Cressner, and a sympathetic hero in Johnny Norris. My one gripe is the fact Cressner's henchman Ducky just kind of vanishes without explanation, but he was kind of annoying anyway, so the less Ducky the better.
The King of Koosh!
Bad Movie Lover

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Posts: 516

Must have caffeine...

« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 03:45:16 PM »

The General, the third and final segment of the film, begins with the cat riding on a freight train all the way from Atlantic City to Wilmington, North Carolina, which my mom and I had a good laugh over, since this is not far from where we live. As mentioned previously, this segment would have tied into the prologue before Quitters Inc., the one involving the dying little girl who the cat originally belonged to, had it not been cut. Once in Wilmington, the cat hops off the train, and we cut to a typical 80s Southern suburb, as seen through the eyes of what we'll later learn is a pint-sized monster. Kudos to the filmmakers for not giving the creature a distorted, Predator-esque P.O.V. like so many movies these days seem to give to their monsters (even when by all rights they shouldn't even be able to see, like the eyeless Lickers in Resident Evil: Apocalypse). Anyway, the P.O.V. shot travels through some woods and then comes an abrupt halt at a roadside. It waits for a pickup truck to pass before it dashes across the street and into a family's front yard, and begins observing a little girl named Amanda (Drew Barrymore again) washing the car with her father, Hugh. But what their mysterious visitor doesn't know is that the cat was riding in the back of that pickup, and when it stops at a street corner, the cat, apparently having seen whatever it is that ran across the road, hops out of the back and begins to pursue it.

The P.O.V. creature, noticing the cat, immediately races towards the house and through the front door when Amanda's mother Sally Ann comes outside to check on her daughter and husband. Despite the fact that this little critter makes all manner of grunting noises and even jingling sounds when it moves, Sally Ann apparently doesn't notice it. She does, however, notice the cat when he races inside after it, and so does Amanda. Amanda runs inside and follows the cat to her bedroom upstairs, which is a typical little girl's bedroom filled with dolls and books and things, and there is also a hanging birdcage on a stand in which lives Polly, Amanda's pet parakeet. Amanda scoops the kitty up into her arms just as Sally Ann comes in, and mom demands that she fork the feline over so she can take it to the animal shelter. However, Amanda, who apparently has always wanted a cat, begs her mother to let her keep him. After much whining from her daughter, Sally Ann caves, but only on the condition that the cat, who Amanda names "General" (which I'll call him for the remainder of this review), sleep outside at night.

The next morning, the family is sitting down to breakfast, and Sally Ann says she found cat hairs on Amanda's bedsheets, and demands to know whether she let General in and took him up to her room. Amanda more or less confesses yes, and her mother throws a fit, telling her that General could hurt or even kill Polly the parakeet. Amanda says he wouldn't do such a thing, since he's gentle and "non-violent." Hilraiously, right after Amanda says this, we cut outside to see General stalk and pounce on an unfortunate bird. Hugh tells Amanda that her mother is all wound up because she just got off the phone with Amanda's grandmother, who is a very old-world style woman and very superstitious, and that Grandma has filled Sally Ann's head with a bunch of nonsense about cats stealing sleeping childrens' breath.

That night, Hugh comes into Amanda's room and sits down with her, having noticed how attached she is to General. Amanda says it's because he protects her. When her father asks from what, Amanda says that lately she's been having some pretty disturbing nightmares about a monster that lives in her wall, and comes out at night to try and hurt her, but last night when General slept with her, he chased the bad dreams away. Hugh agrees to bug her mom about the cat issue some more and see if he can convince Sally Ann that there's no harm in letting General sleep inside if it'll make Amanda happy, but pauses to assure her that there's no such thing as monsters before saying goodnight and tucking her in. It's after Hugh leaves and Amanda has fallen asleep that we finally get to see the P.O.V. creature, which comes out of the wall by ripping a hole in it. The monster in question is only a few inches tall, and resembles a short, fat little goblin or troll with red eyes, a big nose, and wearing a goofy-looking floppy jester's cap with bells attached to it (which explains the jingling sounds heard earlier). It's also armed with a miniature sword. The Troll, as I'll call him, ventures forth into Amanda's bedroom, and, to establish his villainous nature, his first act is to climb up into Polly's cage and murder the poor parakeet. This accomplished, he goes and gets on Amanda's bed and climbs up onto the sleeping girl's chest, and pinches her nose shut, forcing her to breathe through her mouth. When so does, he begins sucking her breath out.

But General senses something is wrong, and luckily for Amanda she left her window open. General climbs a tree beside the house and enters her room this way, hissing at the Troll who growls in frustration and abandons his attempt to steal Amanda's breath, fleeing back towards his hole in the wall. General chases him, but the Troll throws his sword which sticks into the cat's shoulder, injuring him and causing him to crash into the base of the birdcage's stand, knocking it over. This also dislodges the sword from his flesh and, giggling insanely, the Troll retrieves his weapon and then disappears through the hole, which closes up after him as through it never existed. Hearing the cage fall over, Amanda sits up in bed and notices the knocked-over cage, and screams at the sight of Polly dead. General, for his part, escapes through the window as Hugh and Sally Ann come running. Amanda wails that the monster that lives in her wall killed Polly, as Hugh tries to comfort her, while Sally Ann only seems interested in asserting that she was right about General, misinterpreting the bloody pawprints on the windowsill as being Polly's blood (when in fact it's General's).

The next morning, Hugh carries the dead parakeet outside and puts him into the trash. General comes up to him and starts rubbing on his leg, and Hugh mildly scolds the cat before picking him up and petting him, and, in doing so, notices the stab wound. After going back inside, he tells his wife about it, but Sally Ann is convinced that Polly "got in one good peck" before General killed him, to which Hugh replies he hadn't realized Polly had such a "big pecker." He says Amanda insists General didn't do it, but Sally Ann retorts that Amanda also believes there's a monster living in her wall, so, apparently, they need to take whatever their daughter tells them with more than a grain of salt.

Sally Ann waits until Amanda goes to school and Hugh goes to work before she makes her move to get rid of the cat. I really don't understand her motives here. Does she honestly buy into the whole superstition about cats and small children? Amanda's not that little. And furthermore, regardless of whether Amanda believes General killed Polly, the fact remains she still likes the cat and wants to keep him, therefore it's a dick move on Sally Ann's part to get rid of the cat, especially when we find out precisely what she intends to do with him! She lures General inside the house with a can of tuna and traps him in a cardboard box, then drives him downtown to an animal shelter, handing him over with orders to be terminated immediately. We then cut to later that night, where we find Amanda standing in the middle of the backyard yelling for General to come home and crying, as her mother watches her from up in her bedroom. Sally Ann tidies up and, while cleaning up some spilled marbles and returning them to their jar, she finds one of the little bells from the Troll's jester hat, but doesn't think much of it. After Amanda comes inside, she asks her mom if General ran away because she blamed him for killing Polly, and Sally Ann just replies that cats are dumb animals and who knows what they do, before putting her daughter to bed.

Needless to say, as soon as Amanda and her parents are asleep, the Troll returns. Noticing that there's no sign of the cat anywhere and the window is shut this time, the Troll giggles evilly and approaches Amanda's bed, pausing to stuff the doorstop under the door. Regarding the Troll, he's both a threatening character and a comical one. He's threatening because we know he has no qualms about killing an innocent little girl, and is perfectly capable of doing so, but he's also funny thanks in part to the inimitable Frank Welker's vocalizations as well as some of the things he does/has happen to him. For instance, he is prevented from getting up onto Amanda's bed at first here because as he climbs up onto the mattress, Amanda, in her sleep, kicks her foot out and knocks him off. This both provides some much-needed comic relief at this point, as well as buys General some time. Speaking of whom, back at the animal shelter, General escapes when the attendant comes to feed him. The attendant chases him, but loses the cat outside, and General hurriedly finds his way back to the house.

He arrives just short of too late. The Troll has already gotten up onto Amanda's chest again and this time he is actually in the process of sucking her breath out, when General comes through the chimney (I neglected to mention that for some reason, Amanda has a fireplace in her room). The Troll reacts to General's entrance by gritting his teeth and balling up his fists in a really funny "Aw, shucks!" sort of way, before trying to make is getaway. General jumps up onto the bed and swats at him with his paws; the Troll, drawing his sword, slashes back at him, snarling, "Slash cat! Slash cat!" and awakening Amanda. And although she is understandably terrified by the sight of this little monster trying to hurt her cat, she, in what I felt was a chilling moment, finds she cannot scream!

The Troll attempts to make a cool getaway by backflipping off the bed, but he lands in the upright marble jar, trapping himself. Idiot. General jumps down and sticks his paw in to get the Troll, and ultimately knocks the jar on its side and sends it rolling across the floor. It collides with a table leg and shatters, freeing the Troll but also causing a big book to fall down in front of the hole in the wall and block it. The Troll proves unable to move it, and soon finds himself running for his life as General pursues him through the bedroom. Amanda, meanwhile, finally finds her voice and screams, waking up her parents. Sally Ann and Hugh come running, but find that they cannot open the door due to the doorstop. Hugh begins trying to break it down as Amanda continues screaming inside. The Troll, meanwhile, climbs up onto the roof of Amanda's dollhouse and attempts another savvy escape by grabbing ahold of a balloon string, only to find he weighs it down, preventing him from going high enough to be out of the reach of General, who jumps up and swats at him, shredding his outfit with his claws.

Ultimately, the Troll ends up on a record turntable. While trying to swat at him, General accidentally turns the thing on and the record begins spinning, playing, of all possible songs, "Every Breath You Take!" Amanda yells for General to "play it faster!" and the cat complies, hitting the button again, and then a third time, with the record now spinning around wildly, the Troll clinging to it for dear life. And since the record is now sped up, so too is the song, which, hilariously, begins sounding like the Alvin and the Chipmunks rendition of Every Breath You Take. Ultimately, the Troll is flung across the room and straight into an electric fan, where he's rather messily chopped to bits. I honestly felt like cheering at this point. :)

Hugh finally breaks the door down and he and Sally Ann come in. Seeing the mess, Sally Ann immediately blames General and begins trying to take him away as Amanda protests, hugging the cat to herself, and then Hugh acts as mediator, turning the record player off for starters. He asks Amanda what happened, and she tells him about the monster, showing her parents the hole in the wall where he came through, and then his remains in the fan, which are quite nasty. The only intact pieces are one arm, and his little sword which Hugh picks up and examines, probably realizing it's a perfect match for the wound on General's shoulder. Proving to be quite an intelligent, practical guy who believes what he sees, Hugh's immediate concern is whether there will be any more of them. Luckily, though, Amanda says she's only ever seen the one troll. Sally Ann, understandably freaked out, makes both her daughter and her husband promise never to mention this little incident to anyone. Amanda agrees... as long as her mom will let her keep General. ;)

Cut to later. General is downstairs, finishing up a fish the family has given him as a reward. He goes upstairs and we find that Amanda is, at least for now, sleeping in her parents' bed. I know I wouldn't wanna sleep in my bedroom for a while after what she went through. The cat hops up and lies down on Amanda's chest, and there's a wonderful little fakeout moment where you're led to believe General is going to steal Amanda's breath after all, but instead he merely licks her face, waking her up. In what is quite possibly the sweetest ending to a movie I've seen in a long time, Amanda whispers "Hi!" and hugs the cat. Fade to black and roll the end credits, over which the surprisingly catchy title song "Cat's Eye" by Ray Stevens plays.

And so there you have it, that's Cat's Eye. It's not a bad little anthology film at all, in my personal opinion. I still think Quitters Inc. wasn't very good, but The Ledge was excellent and The General was even better. Naturally, I seem to be alone in this assumption, as the general consensus amongst fans of this film seems to be that Quitters Inc. is the best segment, and The General is the worst. But why? I like it because I think it's a sweet, touching story about a little girl and her cat, and of the three segments has the best payoff with seeing the Troll go into the fan, and the ending with Amanda cuddling General really tugs at my heart-strings. Besides, of the three segments, it's the one I connect with the most. I'm not a smoker, so I can't connect with Dick Morrison's plight much, nor have I ever found myself in a situation even resembling what Johnny Norris goes through, but I have been in Amanda's shoes, sort of. As a kid, I was always scared of the dark and believed monsters lived in my room and would come out at night to get me, and I would insist that my dogs Max and Asta sleep in my room with me to keep them away. Although of course I don't do that anymore, I still remember what it was like, and therefore some parts of The General are definitely scary on some level for me, making the payoff with the cat saving Amanda that much more satisfying to me.
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 04:30:24 PM »

Koosh, great to see ya here :)  Loved the review too - I remember this movie from my teen years although the details were long gone - thanks for the refresher.  Good review - I like how you elaborate on your experiences and why you liked certain segments better than others.

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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2007, 11:40:45 PM »

good anthology movie. i liked all of them but the general was my favorite. Thumbup

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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2007, 09:18:40 AM »

While I am not a cat person (see below), "The General" segment is easily my favorite.  It is easy to identify with the little girl, who is afraid of what might be out there in the dark (and, because this is a horror film - it is).  Her parents sleep in another room; in the dark of the night, they might as well be miles away.  However, every night she can be certain her valiant old cat will curl up on the bed and defend her from whatever creeps in the darkness.  It is a very intuitive vision into why children are afraid of the dark: what is out there?

On Cats:
Snooty little creatures, the lot of them.  When you want to pet them, they are in no mood to be touched or anything.  Yet, at three in the morning, they come butting against your head, purring and kneading with their claws out.  I have memories at waking up at 0300, to the sound of the cat meowing and my wife saying, "No kitty, go to bed."  Katie got very good at petting the cat in her sleep.

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