NOVEMBER 21, 2010
Usually it's a fairly even split between folks who have and folks who haven't seen the movie that plays at midnight on Saturdays at the New Beverly, but Eye Of The Cat was unseen by just about everyone in the crowd (the star of the film's son was one of the few exceptions). Hell, even Phil hadn't even seen it, and he programmed it! That's what happens when the releasing studio (in this case, Universal) opts to release multiple versions of shit like Meet The Goddamn Fockers instead of making sure all of their library gets ported to the standard format. Come on guys, stop airbrushing your movie posters and get working on something that matters.
Because this movie is a total delight. It doesn't offer much in the way of horror (the body count is, I think, one), but it makes up for it in interesting characters, a wacky but still sort of laid back premise, and cats. Dozens and dozens of cats. Apparently there is a TV edit that inexplicably cuts all of the excess feline and leaves just a single cat in the film (with reshoots to try to smooth over the obvious plot holes this would cause, an attempt that I understand was quite unsuccessful). But really, if that's all you can get your hands on, I think most of the movie's charm would still be intact.
First and foremost is Michael Sarrazin as Wylie (subtle), a carefree player who is roped into trying to trick his aunt into signing over her entire will to him (and then killing her) by Kassia (the drop dead gorgeous Gayle Hunnicutt), a scheming hairdresser who counts the aunt as one of her clients. It seems the will's current iteration leaves everything to the cats, so it's not exactly hard for her to change her mind, just as long as Wylie stays with her until she dies (she's lonely, duh). The great thing about Sarrazin is that he seemingly has no interest in this or any other plot of the film - he's just sort of having fun and doing whatever he feels like.
For example, at one point Kassia and one of his many lovers begin a, ahem, catfight in the bathroom of a swinger's bar (this scene rivals Raw Force's party scene for sheer random awesomeness), and he tries, very lazily, to break it up, getting hit and tossed around himself in the process, but pretty much laughs the entire time. Some of his laid-back attitude reminded me of Michael Moriarty in The Stuff or It's Alive 3, so you know I found him to be quite entertaining. There's also a great bit where he's macking on Kassia and they dip below frame, and then she reaches up and shuts off the light. Then, the kicker, he reaches up and puts the light back on! This guy just plain rules.
However he does have one flaw - he suffers from Ailurophobia, the fear of cats (he recounts the reason why early on - and then tosses a nearby cat into an electric heater of some sort). As a cat owner who finds his cats to be the most lovable creatures in the world, this made me quite sad, but at least the movie backs up his fears by featuring some of the least cuddly cats of all time. They hiss, sneak around, claw viciously at each other, etc... but they're also sort of the good guys in the movie! They are very protective of the aunt, and their "evil" ways are seemingly born out of their desire to keep these no-gooders from killing her (that or taking their money, I guess).
There's also a weird sexual vibe running through the movie. Kassia meets Wylie while he's with another girl (he's naked except for boots), his brother comes into the bathroom while he's bathing and pokes him (and then dries his back), etc. Also, the aunt seemingly wants to shag him, which, even though we learn that they aren't blood relatives, is still kind of creepy. Again, it's not exactly action packed (the biggest scare scene involves the aunt rolling down a hill in her wheelchair), and Joseph Stefano's script could have been tightened a bit, but this sort of stuff keeps the movie entertaining start to finish.
I have no idea how to obtain a copy (apparently it was hard to find even in the VHS heyday), but at least a beautiful film print exists. If your local indie house takes requests, I urge you to suggest Eye Of The Cat. You won't be disappointed. And if you are, you probably will be too busy with the Fockers to tell me.
What say you?