The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - EYE OF THE CAT | The Movie Waffler

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Blu-Ray Review - EYE OF THE CAT

eye of the cat review
A man and his girlfriend plot to kill his aunt for her inheritance.

Review by Jason Abbey

Directed by: David Lowell Rich

Starring: Michael Sarrazin, Gayle Hunnicutt, Eleanor Parker, Tim Henry

eye of the cat bluray

Eye of the Cat mixes old dark house spooky goings on, cunning murder plots and a modish (at the time) hippy free love in (and in the theatrical cut more Pussy than a catatonic Wylie (Michael Sarrazin) can handle). Its two biggest selling points are a script by Psycho screenplay writer Joe Stefano and a score by Lalo Schifrin. Its biggest weakness is that while cats can be annoying as all hell, even the biggest ailurophobe is liable to utter nary a squeak of terror at these overfed balls of fur.

eye of the cat review

Most of the fun is of a bitchy scabrous nature Wylie is a licentious free spirit as amoral as he is good looking but also wonderfully gullible. Like the idiot savant stoner characters that Brad Pitt is so fond of playing, he is easily snared into Kassia’s (Gayle Hunnicutt) plan to wheedle his way back into his wheelchair bound Aunt Danny’s (Eleanor Parker) good graces and bump her off once he has been placed as the sole beneficiary of her will. Everything should be fab and groovy, but Wylie don’t dig moggies and Aunt Danny seems to have inherited a whole clowder of cats with a taste for raw meat.


What makes the plot ever so strange is that despite the prevalence of felines, Aunt Danny is no crazy cat lady. She does not seem to particularly like or care for them. That’s left to Wylie’s brother Luke (Tim Henry), who submissively tends to her needs and dumps the cats once his brother returns on the scene. Aunt Danny also seems to have designs on Wylie that if not exactly oedipal (they are related from marriage rather than blood), are also slightly unwholesome considering she has known him since a child.

eye of the cat review

David Lowell Rich is very much a journeyman director. Here he is efficient and save for a wheelchair bound set piece utilising the steep streets of San Francisco, unshowy and unfussy. What he never really gets a handle on is the whole cat business. Sometimes he leans on supernatural shenanigans (the TV version seems more overtly supernatural by having one seemingly vengeance driven cat refusing to go away) while at other times he feels more at home with the cynical plotting of his leads.


Sarrazin and Hunnicutt are great here, charming cynical moral vacuums who you expect to have a cackling comeuppance in the mould of the old EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt. Surrounded by lackeys and a target for their malfeasance who is hardly innocent herself, you're half rooting for them to succeed. Stefano has a way with double-entendres and badinage that the director leans into, focussing on their relationship so exclusively so as to hide the sleight of hand he performs at the climax.

eye of the cat review

As a cynical blackly comic thriller at the fag end of the '60s with free love and the odd catfight, it’s a serviceable watch. As a horror in which the cats fight, it doesn’t raise the hairs on the back of the neck. It is hard to be horrified when your foe could be vanquished with a can of Whiskers and a tickle under the chin.


Extras:

As well as the rare theatrical version you also get a rough around the edges TV version, unique in that it drastically changes the impact of the final third of the film from cats plural to cats singular. The extras also handily have a compare and contrast of the two films for those who just want to examine the difference between the theatrical and TV cut.

Kim Newman provides his usual erudite knowledge of the horror and in this case, feline horror subgenre. An audio commentary from Kevin Lyons is enjoyable but unessential.

As ever with Indicator's output you also get theatrical trailers, radio spots and an image gallery. For those who get the limited-edition release there is also a 36-page booklet including an essay by Kasandra O’Connell, as well as excerpts from the original pressbook, an interview with Gayle Hunnicutt and an overview of contemporary responses to the film.

Not as extensive as some of the label's releases but the two cuts of the film makes it an essential own for kitty cultists.

Eye of the Cat is on UK blu-ray from Powerhouse Film from June 28th.