Cat’s Eye

The pre-CGI era really makes you think.

Take Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye for example. There is very little post-production. If you see it, it was done in front of a camera, which means that the feline protagonist that guides us through a series of three stories is actually imperiled throughout this movie. First he's chased by Cujo, then he’s nabbed and put in a room with an electrified floor.

Cut to Mr. Dick Morrison (James Woods) arriving at the waiting room of “Quitter’s Inc.”, where our hero, let’s call him General, is being held.

Dr. Vinny Donatti  (Alan King) demonstrates the nasty room on our four-legged friend for Mr. Morrison. I’m not exactly a member of PETA, but really? Donatti claims that in order to get Morrison to quit smoking, they’ll put his wife in the electrocution chamber, and each time he smokes something else bad will happen to his family.

So. . . how does this work if you’re single?

But this isn’t about the people! It’s about General! Some bad things happen to the Morrisons, but the cat escapes the lab and finds his way to Atlantic City and crosses paths with Cressner, a gangster who bets on anything. He’s played by Kenneth McMillan, yes, Baron Vladimir Harkonen himself.

Cressner makes a wager that ex-tennis pro (the weirdly ageless Robert Hays) can’t walk around the ledge of his high-rise penthouse. The hero cat finds the whole affair distasteful, but just watches with an expression that’s between bemused and concerned on his feline face.
The Tennis Pro gets the upper hand and makes Cressner walk around the building. He plunges to his doom, so our hero cat begins hitchhiking again to Wilmington, North Carolina, where Drew Barrymore has been psychically beckoning him the whole movie.

Barrymore names him General officially, and her mom hates him immediately-but that's because she doesn’t understand that the brave General is here to save her daughter from a breath-stealing goblin. This part of the movie drags on, because we’re ready for the big showdown. But first, said goblin kills the family parakeet (presumably through some sort of sexual assault judging from the awful laughter) and very nearly gets Barrymore.

General is, of course, not havin’ it, and frightens the beast off.

Barrymore’s mom, of course, blames the cat based on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence and ships General off to another lab where he’s marked for termination. He triumphantly escapes to the pulsing electronic score provided by Alan Silvestri, and even as he hauls ass through traffic and a thunder storm, the goblin is fast approaching. Hurling himself down the chimney, General arrives in the nick of time, ready for an epic battle of good and evil!

Cat Vs. Goblin

General wins and the Barrymore family learns a valuable lesson: when a random animal wanders into your house, assume it’s there to protect your child from supernatural monsters.

This movie’s pretty great, overall. It’s got just the right amount of 80’s cheese, and since our main character doesn’t speak a whole lot of English, half of the humor is in the cat thinking what fools these humans be.

Trick R Treat

I love horror movies. Eat. Sleep. Breathe them.

Lately, it’s not easy to justify my love of horror films as I find myself wading through a sea of unworthy remakes and characterless gore-fests. However, there are still a few new horror movies that remind me of why I loved the genre in the first place. One of these being the recent DVD release of Michael Dougherty’s Trick R Treat.

Trick R Treat is a Halloween-themed anthology film that gives the audience four-count 'em, four-different horror stories for the price of one. Each follows someone or some group that fails to abide by Sam’s (Quinn Lord) rules for Halloween. Unfortunately for them, Sam is a childlike trick-or-treater with a creatively homicidal streak, so these transgressions tend to lead to deadly results.

Setting this film apart from other horror anthologies like CreepshowBodybags, or Twilight Zone: the Movie, is the inter-connectivity of the four stories. Well, that and no one died during the making of the film (poor, poor Vic Morrow). Anyway, the ease and timing with which Dougherty weaves the characters in the different short stories reminds me more of Pulp Fiction than the above-referenced horror films. The re-appearances of characters add not only to their individual stories, but also, strengthens the larger film, creating a more satisfying larger story of Halloween night in this small town.

But, let’s get down to brass tacks: is it scary?

Answer: You bet your ass it is.

Though the nature of the film requires any suspenseful moments be brief, they’re quite effective. Starting when Leslie Bibb blows out a Jack-O-Lantern despite her husband’s warnings to Brian Cox’s desperate fight with a certain home intruder. (By the by, Dylan Baker is also featured prominently; bringing our Kings cast member count to three. Shame on you for not watching that wonderful show!) There are also more than enough gory and visceral moments for those of us demented weirdos who appreciate such things. More disturbing and fun (yes, fun) is Dougherty’s complete willingness to do horrible, horrible things to little children. You just don’t see that as often these days. Well, at least not outside of a Disney film.

Also memorable is Sam, our mascot for the picture. Dressed in orange “footie” pajamas and a burlap sack that you’ll wish he never took off, Sam (as in “Samhain”) appears to be the embodiment of the spirit of Halloween and its chief enforcer. His character hearkens back to the more solid horror movies of the 80s, when we could count on some visually appealing (or disgusting) figure to root for. At the very least, he makes a great little action figure, which you should go out and buy.

Seriously, we need to encourage more movies like this and the best way to say “I love you” to a movie is with cash. So if you find yourself looking for that perfect Halloween horror flick, I cannot recommend Trick R Treat enough. As long as you don’t watch on Halloween, as you should be out trick-r-treating.

Or else Sam will get you. Have you not been paying attention?