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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Cat's Eye (Blu-ray)
Cat's Eye (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // September 20, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $9.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted October 4, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Movie:

I have a soft spot for anthology features, since sometimes it's the only way for well-made short films to connect with a mainstream audience. Horror is well-suited for anthology, it's the genre that will forever be connected to brief yet haunting campfire stories that usually end with a clever and ghoulish twist. As a fan of Stephen King's short story work, I'll always check out anthologies that are either based on them, or are directly written by the man himself for the screen (The great Creepshow, a series of pre-Tales From The Crypt horror fables is an example).

Cat's Eye is a culmination of those two, with the first two stories being adaptations of King's earlier work from the anthology book Night Shift, and the third story written directly for the screen. King is the sole credited screenwriter, yet since the first two stories are almost word-by-word adaptations (As far as I can remember, it's been a while since I've read Night Shift), I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that he basically wrote a Spielbergian short screenplay about a brave cat that defends a little girl from an evil, life sucking troll. Otherwise, the subject of the film, the cat itself, is very passive during the first two stories, with his involvement being tangible at best.

Yes, until we get to the third story, the gimmick that glues these segments into a feature is just that, a gimmick. However, that doesn't mean that the first two stories aren't effective. In fact, even though a lot of critics and fans point out that the final story is the best one, my personal favorite is the first segment, a demented dark comedy about a hopeless cigarette addict named Dick (James Woods), who goes to a company that's supposed to help him quit the infernal cancer sticks. Unfortunately, the company's owner (A hilarious deadpan performance by Alan King) turns out to be a psychopath with, shall we say, "unusual" methods to get Dick to quit smoking.

If Dick smokes one cigarette, his wife will be electrocuted (The owner does a useless demonstration on our cat, an obvious attempt to awkwardly insert it into the story), the second and third infractions won't be as "tolerant". As darkly humorous as the tone of the piece is, complete with an appropriately cartoonish hallucination sequence where Dick imagines being attacked by a bunch of human-sized cigarettes, it might have worked better as a feature adaptation, since the story at hand only covers what happens if Dick breaks the rules once. I would have loved to have seen the results of the second and third infractions, even thought it would have been very hard to write a motivation for Dick to smoke the other two cigarettes after what he's been through.

The second story is a fairly interesting Alfred Hitchcock Presents-type revenge thriller. It's about a gambling mogul (Kenneth McMillan) who's so upset that his wife left him for an ex-tennis pro (Robert Hays), that he bets the tennis player that he can't walk around the edge of his penthouse apartment without falling down. If he doesn't fall, he's free to go with the mogul's wife, if he does, then we know what happens. This section holds the tension of a basic thriller premise, but could have been shorter, and the twist ending is too predictable.

The final story is basically a smaller scale Gremlins ripoff where our cat finally takes center stage as the hero of the film, after we're set up for some medieval knight-style bravery thanks to Alan Silvestri's bombastic score. The cat is adopted by a little girl (Drew Barrymore), whose life force is being sucked out by an evil tiny troll (Excellent creature work by Carlo Rambaldi, who designed E.T., so the Spielberg link isn't entirely coincidental). It's up to the cat to wage a fierce battle to the death with the troll in order to save the girl's life. This section is a lot of fun, kind of a slightly more bloody Goosebumps episode, but it doesn't fit the more adult tone of the previous two segments, and ends on a ridiculous attempt at building tension (Did anyone actually think the cat would act another way?)

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The 1080p, 2:35:1 transfer of Cat's Eye retains a film-like look with a healthy amount of grain, as well as rich blacks and contrast. There isn't any noticeable video noise. Usually great HD transfers bring out some of the defects in creature design and animation in 80s practical monster effects, but the troll's animation here stands up to HD scrutiny.

Audio:

We only get a DTS-HD 2.0 stereo track, which does a good job of mixing the dialogue, the score, and the SFX, even though the score comes out a bit muted at times. It could have been fun to experience Silvestri's appropriately cheesy synth score on 5.1, but what we get is satisfactory.

Extras:

Commentary by Lewis Teague: The director goes deep into the themes of each story, as well as the details of the production. Recommended for fans of the film.

We also get a Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Cat's Eye is far from being the best anthology horror film ever made. It's not even one of the best Stephen King horror anthologies. But with a healthy mix of tones and some intriguing stories, it gets enough of a recommendation for fans of this sub-genre.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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