It could be argued that the 80’s obsession for newly adapting all things Stephen King could be compared to the California gold rush of 1849, where men seeking riches madly grabbed everything they could find to make their fortune. Some made an insane prophet and found dizzying success (Carrie, The Shining), others emerged broke and destitute (Firestarter) and were neither here nor there, sticking with what they had found.
To reign my rather chaotic analogy in a little, for an author as insanely prolific and successful as King, even the picking up of tiny nuggets was fair game and so when the rights to his novels started getting all bought up, there was still the untapped riches of his many short stories to go round.
This (finally) brings us to Cat’s Eye, an anthology movie scripted by King himself featuring two adapted works and a brand new story all tenuously (and I mean REALLY tenuously) linked by a stray cat that wanders in and out of the first couple of storeys to rescue a little girl from supernatural forces in the third.
The first story is Smokers Inc. featuring a sweatier than usual James Woods as a man who finds himself under the thumb of a company that helps you quit smoking though sadistic means. As he struggles with his addiction, he increasingly puts himself and his loved ones in danger as he realises that the paranoia he’s feeling may not down to withdrawal symptoms
The second story adapts The Walk, a twisty tale of revenge when a psychotic millionaire with a weakness for eccentric wagers, aims to settle the score with the man (Airplane’s Robert Hays) who has been having an affair with his wife by making him edge around the outside ledge of his multi story penthouse in order to win his freedom.
Finally, the last story involves the stray cat trying to save Drew Barrymore from the soul sucking troll that lives in the skirting boards only to be unwittingly hampered by the girls feline hating mother.
Directed by Lewis Teague (who’s previous go round on the King carousel was Cujo), Cat’s Eye is much more playful than your usual take on the scribe’s work with an title sequence involving the puss fleeing from an enraged Cujo and nearly getting run down by Christine the killer car.
Such a breezy attempt at what could quite easily be very effective brow dampeners is a surprising choice, especially considering King’s involvement and yet the uneven, broad tone makes for an entertaining, if so-so entry in the King cannon. For example, the song Every Breath You Take by The Police bizarrely turns up repeatedly (once in the most unsubtle hallucination you’ve ever seen) which sits oddly when the stories ultimately take darker turns.
The first two entries are fine (although are more technically thrillers than horror, proving what a random grab bag of tales they must have been) but the final section where the supernatural finally rears it’s head is where the film finally finds it’s feet.
The campy (literal) cat and mouse games between the tabby and a diminutive dagger wielding creature in a jester suit is admittedly ludicrous, but admittedly undemanding fun, and keep an ear out for an early Alan Silvestri (Predator, Back To The Future, Avengers) score.
Solidly filed under “for King completists only”, Cat’s Eye isn’t bad at all, but isn’t exactly amazing either.
Fun, but hardly the cat’s pyjamas…