This feline adventure starts with a stray tabby cat which is getting chased by a dog, and ends up hiding in a delivery truck. This truck drives to New York City, where the cat sees the vision of a young girl through a display window. She pleads for the cat to come and help her, but then a guy comes and pick the cat up and puts it in a cage, and here the first story of this film starts. The cat is taken to a clinic called “Quitters, Inc.”, where smokers are coming in order to kick their smoking habit. Dick Morrison, a smoker who has been advised by a friend to join Quitters, is signing up before he knows anything about what he’s in for: he’s told that from now on, every time he fails holding back the urge and smokes a cigarette, horrors will befall his wife and child. The sadistic counselor shows him a room, where Dick gets to see the tabby cat inside where electric shocks comes from the floor, causing the cat to jump around in fright and pain. After this display, he says it will be his wife in that room if the smokes just one cigarette from now on. If he fails a second time, it will be his child. And if he fails a third time…well, I’m not even going to say what he claims they’ll do to his wife then. What could possibly go wrong from here… but at least, in the end, our cat hero manages to escape the place so we can get to the second story of the film.
Next, the cat manages to leave Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, and ends up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he once again sees the disembodied image of the girl asking for his help. But then, the cat is taken home by a crime boss and casino owner, Cressner, whose wife plans to leave his abusive ass for another man named Norris. Cressner has Norris kidnapped, blackmails him, and gives him the chance to get away if he manages to successfully circumnavigate the exterior ledge of Cressner’s penthouse. Nothing goes smoothly for the people involved in this story either, of course, but once again the cat manages to get away of course.
Then we get to the final story, where the cat gets on a freight train and ends up in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he finally meets the girl that he’s been seeing visions of. Her name is Amanda, and she eagerly adopts the cat and names him General. The mother tries to protest, because she’s afraid the cat will harm their parakeet Polly. What they don’t know is that something else has gotten inside the house that will harm not only Polly, but Amanda as well: a malevolent little troll who kills the parakeet with a tiny dagger. Guess who gets the blame for that. But the troll is also after Amanda, trying to steal her breath while she sleeps, and General is the only one who can save her.
Cat’s Eye is a 1985 anthology fantasy horror film, directed by Lewis Teague and written by Stephen King. Teague also directed Cujo (1983), another film based on a Stephen King book. The three stories included are Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and General. The first two are based on two short stories from Night Shift, while the third story was written for the film. It had a budget of $7 million, and grossed a little over $13 million at the box office. It was nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film in 1987. The theatrical trailer for the movie actually claimed that this was Stephen King’s first motion picture screenplay, but that’s actually incorrect, as he previously wrote the screenplay for Creepshow (1982). This being a movie based on Stephen King’s stories, it comes as no surprise that it’s stuffed with several easter-eggs from King’s other stories, where the dog chasing the cat in the start of the movie is none other than Cujo himself, and the cat also nearly gets run over by Christine. The child actor who plays Amanda, Drew Barrymore, previously appeared in Firestarter (1984).
Now, Cat’s Eye is pretty much exactly what you would expect: fun, whimsical and overall very entertaining. It’s filled with 80’s magic. Prior to watching the movie, on a blu-ray release from 2022, we were greeted with a notification saying “Please note that this film reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find outdated or offensive“. Now, this ghoul woman is certainly not a youngster anymore and literally grew up with movies that are considered offensive today, but I honestly had problems finding what could be so offensive here. The smoking, perhaps? Er, well, whatever. Offended people will be offended, I guess. Talking about the smoking parts, there are some scenes in that story that is truly over the top where the smoke-craving guy starts hallucinating and sees a dude blowing smoke out of his ears while making train noises, and cigarette packs walking around the place with lady legs. Jeez! Overall the movie has a very lighthearted tone, despite a couple scenes that are rather dark, and it mixes the fantasy elements with the horror and humor quite well.
The effects are solid, where they used huge props for the girl’s room in order to make the little malevolent troll appear small. While the final story with the troll is a lot more cheesy and fantasy-themed compared to the other two stories, it still fits surprisingly well with the rest as the quirky tone from the very get-go makes us expect pretty much anything to happen. It’s fun, charming, and could easily make you purr over the fanciful 80’s nostalgia. The movie also includes a synth-score by Alan Silvestri, which bears some resemblance to his score for Back to the Future which was also released the same year. And who can resist the catchy theme song!
Director: Lewis Teague
Writer: Stephen King
Country & year: US, 1985
Actors: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King, Kenneth McMillan, Robert Hays, Candy Clark, James Naughton, Tony Munafo, Court Miller, Russell Horton, Patricia Benson, Mary D’Arcy, James Rebhorn