Plot: What’s it about?
This trilogy of terror kicks off with Quitters Inc., in which Robert Morrison (James Woods) tries to end his smoking addiction. As a father and a husband, he knows his life would be better off with the nasty habit, so he visits Quitter’s Inc. to sign up for treatment. The staff at Quitters Inc. has an excellent track record with past clients, but little does Morrison know the extents to which they will go to ensure he succeeds. As it turns out, the company is run by the mafia and if Morrison fails to quit the habit, he could lose more than his fees to enter the program. Next is The Ledge, which finds a washed up tennis player named Johnny (Robert Hays) on the run with another man’s wife, but that other man is powerful gambler Cressner (Kenneth McMillan), which means not only does he know, he plans to exact some revenge. If he wants to remain a free man and keep his new love, Johnny has to venture out onto a five inch ledge that stands many stories off the ground, meaning one slip would spell the end of Johnny’s existence. In The General, a young girl named Amanda (Drew Barrymore) is having visions of a horrific troll and while a new pet cat named General helps, her parents don’t seem to appreciate its presence. Can she somehow convince them General is good so that he can protect her from the hideous creature?
The studios don’t make anthologies too often these days, but there was a time when they were frequent, especially in the horror realm. In these anthologies, we’re supposed to have a common thread to blend the installments together, which we have with Cat’s Eye. In addition to all being written by Stephen King, each volume shares the presence of a feline. As horror fans know all to well, the works of King have sold millions of copies of books, but when it comes to movie adaptations, there’s more clunkers than winners. In this case, King handles the script himself for the first time, but with a PG-13 rating limit, you can tell his options were restrained. The lack of blood and intense tension holds back the material’s scare potential and of course, that’s bad news when you’re making a horror picture. But even so, the writing remains sharp and the individual stories work out well, much better than expected. It would be nice to have seen an R rated edition of Cat’s Eye produced instead of this, but given the circumstances, I won’t complain much. I recommend this one to fans of King and horror anthologies, as Cat’s Eye might have some flaws, but it is still a worthwhile release in all respects.
Although horror movies aren’t often noted for their superior performances, Cat’s Eye actually has a few standout efforts. In the Quitter’s Inc. segment however, James Woods’ turn steals the show and doubles the material’s effectiveness, I think. We all know Woods can blaze through a movie and deliver on all fronts, but he hasn’t worked within horror too much, so I was pleased to see him handle it so well. I suppose this type of psychological horror bends to his skills better than more traditional horror elements, but even so, his work is more than memorable here. This is perhaps the most tense of the segments and thanks to Woods’ performance, it works out very well and shines within the trio of stories. Other films with Woods include Vampires, Any Given Sunday, John Q, Videodrome, Salvador, and The Onion Field. The cast also includes Drew Barrymore (Never Been Kissed, Firestarter), Alan King (Memories of Me, The Bonfire of the Vanities), and Kenneth McMillan (Salem’s Lot, The Stepford Wives).
Video: How does it look?
Cat’s Eye is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image here looks more than acceptable, but I had hoped Warner could have tracked down some better source materials. The print has a lot of grain present and while debris isn’t too frequent, the grain is enough to soften the image and lessen the visual impact at times. The contrast suffers the most, with a lot of murky shadows and compromised black levels, though in most scenes, black levels come off as solid and consistent. The colors have worn a little, but remain bright and acceptable, while flesh tones seem natural also. Not the kind of visual effort I had wanted to see, but then again, I didn’t expect Warner to put much care into this release.
Audio: How does it sound?
A solid 2.0 surround option is offered here, but with this kind of material, you need all the tension you can manage. As such, a new 5.1 track might have been a wise idea, as this one has minimal surround presence and punch. In basic terms, this is a more than solid soundtrack, but it lacks the kind of juice the material would benefit from. As we know from other releases, excellent surround use can enhance tension to no end, but in this case, we’re left with a no frills, sometimes flat audio presentation. But the dialogue sounds good and I heard no source flaws, so I won’t be overly harsh on this mix. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, should you need those to add to your viewing pleasure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The main supplement here is an audio commentary with director Lewis Teague, who supplies a solid, informative session. As suspected, some material was trimmed before Cat’s Eye hit theaters and Teague discusses that, though he doesn’t go too in depth. Aside from those comments, this is a basic behind the scenes commentary, as Teague talks about his cast, his approach, and of course, the material itself. In addition to some talent files, this disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer, which is a most welcome inclusion.