Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stephen King Month: Cat's Eye (1985)

Released in between the two Creepshow movies, Cat's Eye takes a similar approach of adapting several Stephen King short stories in an anthology format (and has a King-penned screenplay to boot). Unlike the Creepshow movies, it doesn't have a tongue-in-cheek tone or a nostalgic connection to old horror comics; it's pretty much a straight-up rendering of three King stories, connected by a cat who wanders through all three (and plays a major role in the final one). As such, it's a little flat, although the first two stories have a bit of charm to them. James Woods does a good job as the star of "Quitters, Inc.," about a very unorthodox agency to help people quit smoking. He plays a twitchy businessman who gets more than he bargained for when signing up with the company, which uses threats and violence to scare its clients into staying smoke-free. Director Lewis Teague stages one great scene in which Woods imagines cigarettes everywhere at a party, but the story kind of peters out at the end and suffers from too many leaps in logic (why do none of the clients ever call the police?).

The second story, "The Ledge," also loses steam after a little while, but Kenneth McMillan is amusing as the sleazy rich guy who forces his wife's lover (king of bland Robert Hays) to walk around his high-rise apartment building on a tiny ledge. It's a pretty one-note tale, and a little reminiscent of "Something to Tide You Over" from Creepshow, but it has moments of genuine tension and suspense. Unfortunately the movie climaxes with the lamest story of them all, featuring Drew Barrymore at her whiniest and some sort of tiny troll creature that terrorizes her. It isn't scary or darkly humorous like the first two, and it seems designed solely to justify the running cat motif. It's always been tough to find the proper medium to adapt King's short stories, and Cat's Eye doesn't quite get it right.

How far to Castle Rock: This movie is chock full of King references (the cat evades killer car Christine and rabid dog Cujo in the opening scene; The Dead Zone movie plays on a TV; characters read King novels), but none to Castle Rock.

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