Cat's Eye (1985 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lewis Teague|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis|
|Written by||Stephen King|
|Based on||"Quitters, Inc." and "The Ledge" by Stephen King|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Edited by||Scott Conrad|
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Co.|
|Box office||$13.1 million or $3.5 million (North America)|
Cat's Eye (also known as Stephen King's Cat's Eye) is a 1985 American anthology horror film directed by Lewis Teague and written by Stephen King. It comprises three stories, "Quitters, Inc.", "The Ledge", and "General". The first two are adaptations of short stories in King's Night Shift collection, and the third is unique to the film. The three stories are connected only by the presence of a traveling cat, which plays an incidental role in the first two and is a major character of the third.
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A stray tom tabby cat is chased by a dog, and nearly gets run down by a car. He hides from the dog in a delivery truck, which drives to New York City. The tomcat hears the disembodied voice of a young girl pleading for help because something is threatening her. The tomcat is then picked up by Junk, an employee of Quitters, Inc.
Smoker Dick Morrison is advised by a friend to join Quitters, Inc. to kick his habit. Clinic counselor Vinnie Donatti explains that the clinic has a 100% success rate due to a uniquely persuasive method: every time Dick smokes a cigarette, horrors of increasing magnitude will befall his wife and child.
Using the tomcat that Donatti's assistant Junk has caught in the street, Donatti demonstrates the first of these horrors: the tomcat is put in a cage and tormented with electric shocks in the floor. Donatti explains that if his new client should be caught with a cigarette, Dick's wife Cindy will be subjected to the same shocks while he is forced to watch. For subsequent infractions, his young daughter will be subjected to the shocks, then his wife raped, and after the fourth infraction, they give up. Not wanting to worry them, Dick hides the looming threat from his family.
That night, Dick is angered by the methods Quitters uses and notices a pack of cigarettes in his desk. He prepares to smoke one, but notices a pair of feet in his closet, realizing Quitters Inc. is serious about their threat to ensure that he is not smoking. The following day, Dick visits his daughter and gives her a doll. Donatti is also at the school, warning Dick that if he strays the only thing his daughter would understand is that someone is hurting her because her father misbehaved.
During a stressful traffic jam, Dick loses his willpower and smokes after finding an old forgotten pack of cigarettes in his glove box, not realizing he is being watched by Junk in a nearby car. After watching Cindy suffer in the electric cage, an enraged Dick attacks Donatti and Junk, allowing the tomcat to escape in the scuffle. After regaining the upper hand, Donatti says that he understands and forgives Dick. Dick is determined never to smoke again and tells his wife everything, after which they embrace.
Time passes, and Dick is apparently smoke-free at last, but has put on a little weight as a result of quitting. Donatti prescribes illegal diet pills and sets a target weight for Dick. Dick jokingly asks what will happen if he continues to gain weight, whether a man would attack his house with a flame thrower. Donatti chuckles and says that is not what they have in mind; instead someone will cut off his wife's little finger. Later Dick and his wife have a dinner party with the friends who recommended Quitters, Inc., and they toast the company for a job well done. As she raises her glass, Dick discovers that Donatti was not joking around: his friend's wife is missing her little finger.
The tomcat who has escaped Quitters, Inc. leaves Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, briefly befriends a group of vagrants and travels to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it hears the same disembodied girl's voice asking for his help. Meanwhile, gambler and former tennis pro Johnny Norris is involved with a woman whose jealous husband, Cressner, is a crime boss and casino owner. Cressner, who will bet on anything, wins a wager that the tomcat will successfully cross the busy road outside his casino. He takes the tomcat home.
Cressner has Norris kidnapped. As revenge, Cressner blackmails Norris into a dangerous ordeal: he must circumnavigate the narrow exterior ledge of Cressner's penthouse apartment in a skyscraper. If he can make it all the way around, Cressner will grant his wife a divorce. If Norris refuses, Cressner will call the police and have him arrested for possession of drugs, which have been planted in Norris' Mustang by a henchman named Albert.
Norris agrees. Cressner harasses Norris by startling him with a horn and turning on a fire hose at the halfway point to keep Norris from lingering. A pigeon lands beside Norris and pecks at his foot, to the point of causing it to bleed. Despite these distractions and a moment alone hanging from a dislodged neon sign, Norris makes it back to the apartment. Cressner says he will honor his bet: his henchman has removed the drugs, and presents Norris with a bag of cash--however, he kicks over the bag to reveal his wife's severed head. Norris attacks Cressner, while Albert is tripped by the tomcat and drops his gun. Norris uses the gun to shoot Albert, then points it at Cressner. Norris forces Cressner to undergo the same ordeal on the ledge. The tomcat watches as Cressner loses his balance and falls to his death.
The tomcat hops a freight train and travels to Wilmington, North Carolina, where it is adopted by a little girl, Amanda (the girl who was asking for help twice earlier), who names him General. The tomcat runs afoul of the girl's mother, who believes he will harm their parakeet, Polly.
Despite Amanda's protests, her mother puts General out at night. As a consequence, he is unable to protect Amanda from a small, malevolent troll that he witnessed taking up residence in the house where the tomcat followed the troll earlier. When Amanda sleeps, the troll emerges via a retractable hole in one of the walls in Amanda's room. The troll slays the parakeet with a tiny dagger and then tries to steal Amanda's breath. General finds a way into the house and battles the troll. After wounding the tomcat's shoulder with his dagger, the troll quickly finds itself outmatched by an enraged General. It successfully flees, leaving Amanda and her parents to discover the death of the bird. The parents are convinced that General killed Polly, but the father discovers a wound on the tomcat too large to have been caused by a parakeet. He starts to doubt the mother's belief that General slew the bird.
General is then taken to the animal shelter by the mother to be euthanized the next day. When night falls, the troll returns and uses a small rubber doorstop to wedge the child's room door shut from the inside. Again it attempts to take the sleeping girl's breath. Meanwhile, at the animal shelter, as he is getting his final meal, General escapes and rushes back to Amanda's house, which he enters by way of the chimney.
General arrives just in the nick of time to save Amanda and again battles the troll, causing a great deal of noise. Knowing that he is no match for the tomcat, the small creature tries to flee. But General cuts off the troll's escape route by knocking down a thick hardcover storybook, covering the wall hole. Grabbing on to a bunch of foil balloons, the troll tries to float out of the furious tomcat's reach, landing on Amanda's record player. The quick-witted tomcat then uses the record player to hurl the troll into a box fan, slicing it to bits. The ruckus awakens Amanda's parents, who are initially prevented by the blocked door from reaching her. Once Amanda opens the door to her parents, she explains to them that General saved her from the troll. The parents are at first unwilling to believe the story until parts of the troll's dismembered corpse are discovered, as well as the tiny dagger that had caused General's wound, including the hole that the troll had used. Amanda uses the justification that General will keep her safe in case others like her first assailant appear, and General stays inside at night to act as a protector for Amanda.
The next morning, General sneaks into the parents' bedroom (where Amanda was sleeping) and climbs onto Amanda's stomach. He then licks her face. She wakes up and gives him a cuddle whilst smiling.
- Drew Barrymore as Our Girl/Amanda/Alicia Morrison
- James Woods as Dick Morrison
- Candy Clark as Sally Ann
- Alan King as Dr. Vinny Donatti
- Mary D'Arcy as Cindy Morrison
- Robert Hays as Johnny Norris
- Kenneth McMillan as Cressner
- James Naughton as Hugh
- James Rebhorn as Drunk Businessman
- Charles S. Dutton as Dom
- Mike Starr as Ducky
Release and reception
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and wrote, "Stephen King seems to be working his way through the reference books of human phobias, and 'Cat's Eye' is one of his most effective films." Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "the best screen adaptation of any of King's work since Brian De Palma's 'Carrie'" and "pop movie making of an extremely clever, stylish and satisfying order." Variety wrote, "The three stories just don't connect and efforts to join them never work. However, an excellent roster of talent does try its best." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote that the opening story "is so funny and so fresh that it's a shock and a disappointment to see it come to an end in a half-hour. The movie's second short story is as dull as can be; No. 3 is kind of fun; so it all adds up to a better-than-average entertainment that sags terribly in the middle." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated that "the special effects are impeccable and Giorgio Postiglione's production design meticulous and inspired. Yet it's the well-drawn characters, plus the brisk, stylish direction of Teague and superb camerawork of Cardiff, that make it work." Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post wrote that all the stories "repeat the same formula," but the middle one was "the most fun, because of the presence of the peerless Kenneth McMillan," who "plays here with a good-humored burlesque that recalls Jackie Gleason." Kim Newman of The Monthly Film Bulletin thought the film "would have been sub-standard even as one of the formula Amicus anthologies of the 60s and 70s," adding, "Despite a few good performances (James Woods, Kenneth McMillan), the film, like Creepshow before it, is continually let down by the weak punch lines King provides for his promising anecdotes." As of July 2019, the film holds a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews.
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The film was nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film in 1987. Drew Barrymore was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance by a Young Actress in a Motion Picture in 1986.
- "Cat's Eye (1985)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
- De Laurentiis PRODUCER'S PICTURE DARKENS: KNOEDELSEDER, WILLIAM K, Jr. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1987: 1.
- Ebert, Roger (April 16, 1985). "Cat's Eye". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
- Canby, Vincent (April 12, 1985). "The Screen: 'Cat's Eye'". The New York Times. C8.
- "Film Reviews: Cat's Eye". Variety. April 17, 1985. 10.
- Siskel, Gene (April 15, 1985). "King's 'Cat's Eye' trio dogged by limp pause". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 4.
- Thomas, Kevin (April 12, 1985). "A Sly Trio of Vignettes from a 'Cat's Eye' View". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 4.
- Attanasio, Paul (April 16, 1985). "'Cat's Eye': Monster Meow". The Washington Post. C3.
- Newman, Kim (July 1985). "Cat's Eye". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 52 (618): 212.
- "Cat's Eye". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
- "Deal of the Century (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-18.