Saturday, October 9, 2010

31 Days Of Horror: Day 9: Cat's Eye

Cat’s Eyes opens pretty unpromisingy, with a five minute credit sequence/barrage of in jokes involving Christine and Cujo that screams “We are desperately trying to drag this piece of shit to feature length.”

This is when the mannequin in the window comes to life and begs the kitty to help her. If there is a more inexplicable opening to a horror movie I have not seen it.

Quitting smoking sucks on several different levels. And I mean that literally. After the week or so of shrieking raw pain from the withdrawal, you have the month or so long period where your synapses just… won’t… fucking… connect. So it kind of feels as though you’re slightly stoned all of the time but with none of the benefits. Afterwhich you get that awesome eunichy feel as you watch all the other happy people who still get to smoke.

Of course, the plus side of this, is that you get to not die of cancer (given of course that you’ve quit in time, never a sure thing). But at times that can seem like mighty cold comfort.

King’s short story Quitter’s Inc (In all of these King related horror posts I’m going to touch a bit on the books as well. Partially because I can. Partially because I’ve been reading Bill’s 31 Days Of Slash and I am very VERY jealous) captures all of this misery. Telling the story of an organization dedicated to helping people quit smoking in the most extreme way possible.

The trick of the story, like many of King’s stories is it takes this absurd, nearly Kafkaesque, situation and plays it absolutely straight.

“A first offense and Cindy would be brought to what Donatti called “The Rabbit Trick” A second offense and Morrison would get the dose. On a third offense, both of them would be brought in together. A fourth offense would show grave cooperation problems and would require sterner measures. An operative would be sent to Alvin’s school to work the boy over.

“Imagine,” Donatti said smiling, “How horrible it would be for the boy. He wouldn’t understand it even if someone explained. He’ll only know someone is hurting him because Daddy was bad. He’ll be very frightened.”

“Don’t misunderstand” Donatti said, “I’m sure it won’t happen forty percent of our clients never have to be disciplined at all. And only ten percent fall from grace. Surely those are reasonable figures?”

Unfortunately Quitter’s Inc. plays it broad. Very, very fucking broad.

Woods gives it all he’s got. And there’s a party scene which captures the way that smokers act as though you have personally told them to go fuck themselves when they learn you’re no longer part of their number (not that that shoe hasn’t been on the other foot).

But it also Alan King in a silver disco suit lip syncing to “Every Move You’ll Make.” For some reason. And that’s much more indicative of the tone the film takes.

The Ledge works a lot better, but only comparatively. Mostly because the is more suited to the broad tone that the movie is going for. It could pass as a lost segment from Creepshow. Or at least Creepshow 2.

The final segment features a troll dressed in a jester’s cap and bells who menaces Drew Barrymore for reasons best left to the imagination.

It climaxes with an exceedingly bored looking cat dueling said Trol- and Jesus does this movie suck.

It’s a shame because as proven King’s compact nasty short stories lend themselves to anthology films very well and I wish more films would attempt it. Instead we get this incoherent mish mash of wasted opportunity.


Bonus Feature:

I usually don't pass this kind of stuff along, but this deal seemed pretty straightforward so I figured what the hey (Ethically I will mention that I am being sent a free sample. But I will also point out that historically speaking sending me free shit does not guarantee a good review. So take it for what you will.)

Crazy Dog T's is offering five Dollars off to all readers of this blog off of the various Horror T Shirts and other goodies that they offer.

All you have to do is enter the code HALLO5 in at the check out and voila.


Chris Stangl said...

I do think CAT'S EYE is a lot of low-impact fun, largely because these are stories with killer one-gag concepts — "Wouldn't it be funny if..." stories — and King's screenplay has an easy tone that understands that the material is comic but digs into real fears at the same time. That is, if I were the sort who went around calling things "pretentious," I'd bless CAT'S EYE with an "unpretentious" tag. (Further reading/plug: my notes on CAT'S EYE as an adaptation from 2006:

Just for conversation's sake, and not that it excuses logical lapses in the finished product, the cat's visions of phantasmagorical Drew Barrymore are the result of an abandoned sub-plot for which the payoff has been deleted. Otherwise, based on this and the very fine CUJO (to say nothing of drive-in classics ALLIGATOR and THE LADY IN RED), I wish Lewis Teague had handled more King adaptations. I think he Gets It.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Chris: You make some good points. Though I was disapointed with Teague's handling of the film, as a fan of Alligator (I haven't seen Cujo, but I will).

The fact is that if we can hold King responsible. For one thing the movie stinks of De Laurentes. And even if we assume the end result was EXACTLY what King imagined. Well I DON'T think he gets it. He's a fantastic novelist, but as Maximum Overdrive, his TV version of The Shining, and many many other instances show, he's not a particularly good, or even adequate filmmaker.

If you take the Truffaunt maximum of "Filmmaking as film criticism" as truth I really think Creepshow does this film in. Romero was able to make a film as broad and fun as this, and still keep the on goings vaguely sinister.

Teague, just has a bunch of gags with the lesser songs of The Police.