Lewis Teague’s delightfully macabre anthology of horror tales has been given a crisp 4K restoration, and arrives on Blu-ray and 4K UHD this week courtesy of Studiocanal. Written by Stephen King—the first two parts are based on short stories from his legendary ‘Night Shift’ collection, with the final vignette being an original for this film—and featuring a cast including James Woods, Drew Barrymore, and an adorable cat, ‘Cat’s Eye’ is a fun little slice of 80s horror.
Comprised of three separate tales, the only connective tissue between them is the appearance of a stray tabby cat who keeps getting caught up in these grim adventures. The first segment is perhaps the most well-known, as it is based on one King’s most notorious short stories. ‘Quitters, Inc’ finds Dick Morrison (James Woods) trying to quit smoking, and a friend of his has referred him to the titular organisation. Unfortunately for Dick, their methods to keep you off the tabs are somewhat extreme.
Woods plays a manic, paranoid 80s asshole as well as anyone, but the MVP for this segment is Alan King, as Dr Vinny Donatti, the CEO of Quitters, Inc. He’s more like a mob boss than a medical doctor, and his performance is note perfect and extremely funny. In fact, the entire segment is much funnier than the the nasty little short story on which it is based. But of course, this is from the mind of Stephen King, a place where humour and horror often go hand in hand. The laughs can be very quickly undercut by something truly awful.
Next up is ‘The Ledge’ which finds iconic ‘Airplane’ actor Robert Hays trying to run away with the wife of an Atlantic City wiseguy. Cressner, the wiseguy in question, played by the brilliant Kenneth McMillan catches up with Norris (Hays) before he can get away and takes him back to his penthouse where he blackmails him into participating in a sadistic bet. If Norris can walk around the entire exterior ledge of his apartment building, Cressner will let him leave with his wife. The setup is great, full of tension, and it pays off in a satisfyingly disturbing way. This segment also neatly references another Stephen King story which Lewis Teague had a hand in adapting. There are SK Easter eggs (big and small) all over ‘Cat’s Eye’.
Having made it from New York to Atlantic City, and witnessed the horrors those two cities had in store for it, the tabby cat now hops on a freight train to North Carolina where it is adopted by a little girl (Drew Barrymore) who names him ‘General’. Delving into quintessential childhood nightmare territory, this segment finds Barrymore’s Amanda being tormented by a monster lurking in her room whilst she sleeps.
Much like ‘Night Shift’ itself, which further propelled King’s popularity in the late 70s with its accessible collection of short stories, ‘Cat’s Eye’ could also be seen to provide an entry point into the Stephen King catalogue for younger viewers/readers. Slickly directed by Lewis Teague, genuinely funny and silly in places, and with a few flashes of real nastiness that tap into everyday fears and phobias, but done so without ever providing proper nightmare material like ‘Cujo’ or ‘Salem’s Lot’. It’s a lot of fun.
The new release comes with an audio commentary from director Lewis Teague, as well as a brand-new interview with him exclusively filmed for this release. Ported over from previous versions is an interview with Robert Hays, reflecting on his career and his involvement in this film. There’s also an interview with the animal trainer Teresa Ann Miller. Finally, the disc is rounded out with the theatrical trailer.
Cast: James Woods, Drew Barrymore, Alan King, Robert Hays, Kenneth McMillan Director: Lewis Teague Writer: Stephen King Released By: Studiocanal UK Certificate: 15 Duration: 94 mins Release Date: 23rd May 2022