MARCH 23, 2009
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. “Hello.” But I’ll also say this again: any movie with a theme song is better. I’m not talking about a song like My Heart Will Go On”, which is Titanic’s theme but has nothing to do with the movie or characters. I mean a song like “Cat’s Eye”, from the movie Cat’s Eye, sung by Ray Stevens. I mean, the title is right there, but his lyrics refer to breath being taken away and such, and fans will know that a troll trying to steal a little girl’s breath is the plot of the 3rd story in the movie.
It’s also the weakest story, though that’s not really the filmmaker’s fault. A prologue that would explain 90% of the plot of the 3rd story was deleted by producers. Director Lewis Teague explains what would have happened, and admittedly it helps clarify the story, but still, it’s not quite as successful as the other two stories. Part of the problem is that the story is so far removed from reality, when the other two are fairly grounded. For an hour you’ve been watching a pretty good and plausible movie, and then all of a sudden there’s a little troll running around Drew Barrymore’s bedroom while a super-intelligent cat tries to stop him from stealing her breath. Huh?
It would also help explain the odd moments in the film in which the cat sees the ghost or spirit or whatever of Drew in store windows. These scenes occur during the other stories, and it doesn’t help that Drew appears as different characters in those entries as well. Actually, as I think about it, this is one of the most needlessly baffling movies ever made.
The first two stories are great though. The first stars James Woods and is based on Stephen King’s terrific short “Quitters, Inc.”, which depicts a companies unusual methods of getting folks to quit smoking. As an avowed hater of cigarettes who has no problem of telling complete strangers to stop smoking, I sort of love the idea of a company that will torture your family if you light up when you think no one’s watching. Plus, the “evil” exec is played by the great Alan King, and the story allows us to enjoy him singing “Every Breath You Take” from The Police while he dances around in a smoking jacket (or bathrobe, I couldn’t really tell).
Speaking of the song - all of the songs in the movies are lame covers. Not sure if they simply couldn’t afford the real songs or they wanted to add an element of uneasiness to the movie, but it’s distracting as hell. It’s like when you’re playing Guitar Hero and all of a sudden its “As Made Famous By” time and you’re all like “Awww, fuck this generic shit!”. I assume Stevens’ theme is real, however.
The 2nd story is also based on one of King’s, but I haven’t read it yet. This one stars Robert Hays, and it was nice to see him in a rather serious role. Airplane! is, of course, one of the greatest films ever made, and his starring role alone should have ensured him a bigger career. The story itself treads some of the same ground as "Something To Tide You Over" from Creepshow, but without the silly supernatural ending. The story also features an early appearance from Charles S. Dutton - Roc! It’s not quite as great as "Quitters", but the suspense is pretty goddamn tense at times. Then again I have recurring nightmares about being on ledges and such, so maybe it’s just me.
The 3rd, as I’ve said, is the weakest. Not only does the edited sequence contain all of the plot points that would allow a viewer to really understand it, but it simply lacks thrills. You know the troll won’t succeed in killing Drew OR the cat, and the parents are kept out of it. The effects are good (another day, another Carlo Rambaldi monster, though this one is far better than the one in Cameron’s Closet), and I love the obviously oversized set that would allow a midget in the troll costume to run around (as opposed to matted effects, which are also used to less success). Then again, this story was written specifically for the screen by King, which is almost always a red mark.
Teague’s commentary is pretty dull, he rambles about the various crew members and other movies they have worked on (even key grips and such get their due), and points out the King references some folks may have missed, but he also just watches the movie for long stretches. And the presence of the commentary makes the lack of the deleted opening even more annoying; they obviously put some effort into the release, why not go all out? The trailer (which promises “a monster or two” - the former is the right answer) is also included, as well as cast and crew bios. Did you know Drew Barrymore has gone on to be a major star?
What say you?