Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985)

In spite of many other genre fans and movie critics objections, I’ve always found “Cat’s Eye” to be something of a near flawless horror fantasy thriller. It’s one of the finest anthology films I’ve ever seen. And sadly enough it’s the anthology film I wish “Twilight Zone: The Movie” could have been. Hell, “Tales from the Darkside: The Movie” is the anthology movie I wish “Twilight Zone: The Movie” could have been, and I’m not even that much of a fan. But I digress. “Cat’s Eye” is a near perfect horror anthology film that adapts various Stephen King short stories with the wrap around of a seemingly sentient stray Tabby cat who incidentally always seems to find himself playing an important role in every one of the segments of the film. Whenever a segment begins he’s just there, but oddly enough he’s also a character on a mission of his own and we want to know what he’s up to.

“Cat’s Eye” is famous for using “Every Breath You Take” as its primary soundtrack and it works on some creepy level that the song plays almost every five minutes during the high tension moments and scenes of pure horror. Folks often wonder why the tabby cat is the main character and what role he plays in the overall narrative of the film. It’s well known that there was a prologue for the cat that was cut but in a nutshell the Tabby has battled the life sucking troll from the finale before and it took the life of his former master, a young girl who looked like Barrymore’s character in the final half. The young girl’s mother is convinced the tabby took the daughter’s life and attempts to murder it only for the tabby to escape and now is guided by the spirit of his former master to find Barrymore’s character and prevent her from dying in her sleep from the dreaded troll.

Most of “Cat’s Eye” is based around reality based and rather brilliant segments that eventually lead up to the most whimsical war between the tabby and the troll, but the shift is pretty compelling if only because the screenplay does place the Tabby’s needs on a more fantastic echelon than what the humans face, in the end. In ‘”Quitters, Inc.” the Tabby bears witness to Dick Morrison–as played by James Woods, a chain smoker who enters in to a shifty smokers anonymous program that promises to end his smoking habit. Or else. The segment as a whole is intense and incredibly creepy with character Morrison experiencing first hand the results of failing to adhere quitting his habit, and in a sick twist the segment ends on a shocking note that indicates character Morrison will forever be under the guidance of this rather deadly program.

“The Ledge” is very much in the vein of the tale “Something to Tide You Over” from “Creepshow.” This time Robert Hays plays a tennis pro who is romantically involved with a divorced woman whose husband happens to be a mob boss. Kenneth McMillan plays the gambling addicted Cressner who bets Hays’ character Johnny Norris that he can walk the entire ledge of his massive sky rise. If Norris wins, Cressner grants his wife an official divorce. If he refuses to take the bet, Norris is set up for drug possession and sent to jail. This is a nail grinding and wrenching segment based around acrophobic atmosphere that will surely do in audiences with fear of heights. Norris’ battle against the elements of the sky rise including stubborn almost sadistic pigeons makes for one of the most harrowing moments in horror movie history.

“General” belongs to our narrator of the film whose journey ends with a young girl named Amanda, as played by Drew Barrymore who he enchants and inevitably arouses the ire of her mother who battles with the tabby to trap and ship him off to the pound. When it becomes apparent the girl is under attack by an evil troll who is intent on sucking her soul from her body, General wages war, and the film ends on a considerably demented but snarky note that makes this anthology one of the most underrated genre installments of all time. Primarily under appreciated thanks to its confused tone, “Cat’s Eye” is still an entertaining and very clever anthology horror film that offers memorable storytelling with sharp performances, and a protagonist you can’t help but love.