Cat’s Eyes

Cat’s Eyes

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Optimum Home Entertainment 

Release date: February 28th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 90 minutes

Director: Lewis Teague

Cast: James Woods, Drew Barrymore, Robert Hays, Alan King

It’s fascinating to imagine what it’s like to see through the eyes of animals; but for some reason the eyes of cats seem have special significance for us.

They gave up the ability to see fine details and rich colours in exchange for another ability; to see in the dark. When light passes through the retina of a cat, instead of being absorbed by the back of the eye – as it happens with humans – it is reflected back to the receptors for a second chance to create a signal.

Cat's Eye

To simultaneously see through the eyes of a cat and one of the true masters of horror and suspense, Stephen King; you have to see the 1985 movie Cat’s Eye.

Based on his own short stories, Quitters Inc., The Ledge and The General, the movie is divided into three short films tied together by one single character: the Cat.

In the first part, after receiving a mysterious calling from a little girl asking for help, the Cat embarks on a journey to find her. It is soon captured by a man working for the head of the corporation Quitters, Inc. They use unique methods to “help” people quit smoking. Their next client is Dick Morrison (James Woods) who unknowingly signs up for treatment with terrifying consequences if he lets his addiction overcome his fear. The cat is used as a guinea pig to demonstrate what will happen to his wife if he lights up a cigarette.

Cat's Eye

I still remember my mother – who was a smoker – watching this segment. She laughed out loud during the scenes with Dick trying to find ways to secretly smoke, but laughter soon turns to horror…

In the second segment the cat becomes the subject of a wager as it tries to cross a busy road outside a casino. The man who wins the wager is the owner of the casino and he subsequently takes the cat who survived the ordeal up to his penthouse. There, this millionaire takes sadistic revenge on the man who fell in love with his wife, while the cat is trying to find its way out.

When it escapes from the penthouse, the cat finds the little girl, Amanda (Drew Barrymore), who has an evil troll living in her room.

Cat's Eye

Every night it steals her breath but the cat must deal with her distrustful mother before it can save her.

The overall theme of Cat’s Eye is a clash between sadistic, powerful corporations and flawed but nevertheless innocent everyday people. King has quite openly been a left leaning liberal with occasional run-ins with conservatives and while Cat’s Eye is a very satisfying horror film, it also seems to testify of his views on social structure.

Cat's Eye

James Woods is astonishingly convincing as an arrogant smoker who is caught up in a situation which he has no control over.

He is cunning and defiant but eventually bows before the power of corporate fascism.

The second part is somewhat weaker than the first, but still makes a great addition to the theme of tyranny within democracy, which the house represents.

In short, Cat’s Eye, leaves us wondering what really happens when light passes through the retina of a cat…

About Arpad Lukacs

Arpad Lukacs

Arpad is a Film Studies graduate and passionate photographer (he picked up the camera and started taking stills just as he began his studies of moving pictures). He admires directors that can tell a story first of all in images. More or less inevitably, Brian De Palma has become Aprad’s favourite filmmaker.

Then there’s Arpad’s interest in anime. He was just a boy when he saw Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on an old VHS and was hypnotised by the story of friendship, devotion and sacrifice. He still marvels at the uncompromising and courageous storytelling in Japanese anime, and wonders about the western audience with its ever growing appetite for “Japanemation”.

Have a look at Arpad's photography site, and you can follow him on Twitter @arpadlukacs.