Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So grateful for the chance to get reacquainted with this, a hidden gem among Stephen King adaptations. King himself adapts two of his NIGHT SHIFT stories ("Quitters, Inc." & "The Ledge"), and pens a new closing segment ("The General"). So distinct is each segment from the other two that director Lewis Teague is directing three different movies. And he's directing a cat in all of them.

A blogger of my acquaintance makes a credible case that rather than an anthology, it's all one story with a plucky and determined (not to mention insanely well-trained and directed) cat as its protagonist. I would add that the film even follows its feline hero through Hell (Quitters Inc. - a terrifying no-escape situation) into Purgatory (The Ledge - trial by heights) before ending in Heaven (The General - home at last).

Kudoes to Teague, King, and the four credited animal trainers in this film; I'm hard pressed to recall another animal character (a cat, no less) that makes such a strong impression. But each of the segments has its strengths: James Woods provides a grounded and believable performance in the Twilight Zone-like Quitters, Inc.; Kenneth McMillan's mania dances beautifully with Robert Hays' fear-then-determination in The Ledge; and there's genuine suspense in The General's cat-on-troll fight.

Stephen King movies came and went throughout the 80s, but something about CAT'S EYE held it a little higher than the others. It became something of a staple on cable, which is where I initially saw it - indeed, I caught it tonight on Encore's Movieplex station, which seems to be bearing the standard of pan-&-scan, weirdly random cable programming that made Cinemax such a favorite destination during my teenage years. If pressed, I'd name "The Ledge" as my favorite segment, for the intensity of the McMillan/Hays conflict, the way the cat plays his shifting loyalties, and the sound effect that caps it. Rare for anthologies like this, a browse of reviews on line finds each of the three segments with its champions. This lack of consensus speaks to something special in it, an offbeat charm that the decades haven't diminished, whether you enjoy it as a trio of Stephen King stories, an undersung gem in the offbeat but entertaining filmography of Lewis Teague, or the tale of a resourceful, well-traveled, and ultimately lovable cat.

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