Cat’s Eye (1985)
Director(s): Lewis Teague
Writer(s): Stephen King
Starring: James Woods, Robert Hays, Drew Barrymore
An interesting factoid about your FearTASTIC host; I love to read. For most, this may not seem that interesting but here’s the twist; I hardly read non – fiction novels. When I say I love to read, there is a catch that it has to teach me something in return. Most parts of the day you can catch me staring onto my phone, nose deep in a magazine/journal, laughing at a comedic autobiography or staring at the computer with a shocked look on my face. I leave fantasy to the movies folks and thus why most people find this interesting. The literary population tends to immediately correlate the joy of reading with non – fiction novels so I understand completely because the most famous books are usually an escape from reality and your FearTASTIC host is so far off from reality (like talking in the third person) from years of horror flicks that reading about a fantasy world does nothing for him.
Horror novels however (not surprisingly), is an exception to this notion and on top of that small heap, Stephen King is…well, king. Just like how I like my horror flicks, my favorite horror novels are usually comprised of short stories that hit like a shotgun of the macabre variety with each story creeping me out in entertaining fashion. Although it’s established that Stephen King is a horror icon, I will gush at this genius’ ability to make every short story feel like there’s a lesson to be learned while effectively giving you chills when you put yourself in the story just like how horror flicks force you to face the arbitrary in a new light. There is an uneasy feeling after every short story that makes you wonder if there was a back story to be told or a future to be written and then as you think about it some more you realize that it was just perfect the way it was presented; a short burst of intelligent horror that’s sprinkled with humanity and a dash of social commentary.
My favorite collection of short stories from Mr. King is Night Shift. This collection of horror shorts is like the Saturday Night Live for the horror world with most of the short stories making their way to the small screen of television or the big screen of movies. Most folks don’t even realize their favorite Stephen King horror flicks such as Children of the Corn or Sometimes They Come Back are from this collection and although there were a couple stinkers that made little to no correlation to their short story counterpart, the intention of turning the stories into live action features is complimentary enough to the author in how much these stories mean to the masses.
My favorite two stories from this collection however, are featured in the anthology horror movie, Cat’s Eye which in my opinion fully captured the spirit of the short stories the way some of its full feature counterparts failed to execute. The fact that this flick uses a cat to transition you from each story is already interesting within itself since the stories have different tones but are highly entertaining based on the suspense and the anxiety you feel when you put yourself in the situations that these characters face for each tale. The first two offerings are from the horror collection, Night Shift while the third story focuses mainly on the same cat that found itself as a bystander for the first two tales and is the perfect mix of cornball yet highly entertaining by the time you get into the story.
Quitters Inc. has a man who decides to quit smoking and decides to join a program to kick the habit. The price of pragmatism however is more than the man bargained for and he finds himself in a race against time and terror. This story was one of my favorites because there are so many folks nowadays who want to accomplish goals but never get the motivation. This tale exploits the idea of how motivation is in everyone but what are we willing to sacrifice to get us to our goals? James Woods does an excellent job portraying the main character who is in a constant state of fear as the program delves deep into his life and he has no one to blame but himself.
The Ledge is a non – stop anxiety fest from beginning to end with the main character played by Robert Hays getting caught in a demented game with his lover’s husband. A wager is made so that the main character has to walk on a ledge around the top floor of a skyscraper in order to win the freedom of both him and his lover. Along the way, many obstacles, both from nature and the twisted old man who made the wager makes this story a fun romp that’s a nightmare for anyone afraid of heights (ahem ahem).
The General is the goofy horror offering of the three but entertaining in its own right since it involves a goblin creeping around a house trying to steal a young Drew Barrymore’s soul while she slept. It’s a clever twist in what some superstitious folks think of how cats steal the soul of people when they sleep but in this flick, the cat is trying to battle the mini goblin that’s trying to kill the main character. Having written this, I understand cat vs goblin might not seem like a good time, but since you’ve seen this cat be a bystander to the other horror tales, it’s fun to see the cat get some battle action against something supernatural!
Watch this flick with friends is a MUST but really, if you find yourself with not a lot of time and enjoy a good creepy tale, go ahead and pick up Stephen King’s Night Shift and enjoy the short bursts of horror that you can finish on YOUR time.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.