Review Date: August 18, 2002
Released by: Kinowelt Home Entertainment
Release date: 2002
Region 2, PAL
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Cat's Eye is certainly not one of Stephen King's more famous film adaptations. Those particular honors would go to The Shining, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, and a few others. A Stephen King film adaptation is always a hit or miss. The Green Mile is a hit, whereas something like Thinner is a miss. Cat's Eye is a horror anthology that contains adaptations of three of King's short stories. Is it a hit or miss? Considering there isn't much discussion on this one, perhaps it's a miss. This is my first time seeing Cat's Eye, so lets get the ball rolling and find out together.
Cat's Eye is currently available on Region 2 PAL DVD in Germany from Kinowelt Home Entertainment Group, which is the DVD being reviewed here. It contains a commentary track with director Lewis Teague, a trailer, and an anamorphic widescreen transfer. Warner Brothers has a US Region 1 NTSC DVD scheduled for release in October 2002 that will contain the same extras.
The film has a terrific opening that I'm sure King fans love. A cat is being chased by everyone's favorite canine, Cujo! During the chase they pass everyone's favorite killer car, Christine! The cat ultimately escapes Cujo's jaws, ending up in the middle of New York city where it sees images of a girl asking for help. Before long it is captured and brought to Quitter's Inc., a company that helps people quit smoking. It's at this point where the first story begins. Each subsequent story takes place at a stop during the cat's travels.
- Dick Morrison (James Woods) has decided to try and stop smoking. His friend Jim takes him to Quitter's Inc., promising him that it's going to change his life forever. While filling out the paperwork, Jim gets cold feet and decides to back out. Before he's able to leave, Dr. Vinnie Donatti (Alan King) comes out and takes Jim into his office for their appointment. The doctor explains that the methods they use to stop the patient from smoking are quite radical. At this point the meeting begins to go awry and Jim tries to leave, only to find a locked door. Dr. Donatti then explains that Quitter's Inc. operatives will be watching Jim at all times, and that there will be a punishment each time he is caught smoking a single cigarette. The first offense is Jim's wife having to receive electric shocks. The second offense is Jim's daughter having to receive electric shocks. The third offense is Jim's wife being raped. After the fourth attempt they will give up on Jim, killing him. Now Jim is faced with the ultimate battle between the love for his family and his addiction to cigarettes. Which will win?
- Mr. Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) is a gambling man. So much so that he's about to make the bet of his life. Cressner's wife left him for a washed up tennis player by the name of Johnny Norris (Robert Hays). Cressner has his goons find Johnny and bring him back to his penthouse. There Johnny is told that he's been set up; drugs have been planted in his car and one phone call to the police will land him in jail. The only way out is for Johnny to agree to Cressner's wager, which is for Johnny to walk around the entire narrow ledge outside of Cressner's penthouse. The only way Johnny can lose the wager is to fall from the ledge, which would cost him his life. If Johnny makes it around the ledge, he will win the wager and Cressner will let him and his soon to be ex-wife live in peace. Johnny agrees, knowing he has no choice. What Johnny doesn't know are the surprises Cressner has waiting for him out on the ledge, and the surprise inside should Johnny actually win the wager.
- The cat arrives at its final destination - the home of Amanda (Drew Barrymore), the little girl it had visions of. Amanda convincers her mother to keep the cat, which Amanda then names 'General'. Much to Amanda's dismay, her mother insists the cat stay outside at night. The following night Amanda explains to her father that General sleeping in her room makes the nightmares go away; nightmares about a little monster that lives in her wall. Sure enough a monster does live in her wall; a monster that comes out at night to try and steal Amanda's breath. General is more than happy to take care of the monster, but is interrupted when Amanda's mother finds their pet bird dead and blames it on General. Amanda's mother takes General to the animal shelter, which he must somehow escape from before Angela loses her last breath to the hideous monster.
The thing about anthologies is that there's usually both good and bad stories in them. Such is the case in Cat's Eye. Quitter's Inc. is absolutely brilliant and wildly amusing. I'm strongly opposed to cigarettes for all the obvious reasons. Yet I do know many people, both family members and friends, that smoke. Sad as it is to say, if there were such a place as Quitters, Inc., wives and daughters of all clients would be in serious jeopardy. And that is part of what makes Quitters Inc. so amusing. We all know the smoker isn't going to make it without faulting at least once, and that in all probability will fault more than once. James Woods is a wonderful actor that plays the role of a nicotine addict with ease and perfection. There are some hilarious hallucinations his character has when the nicotine withdrawals begin to kick in.
The second story, The Ledge, is definitely the weakest of the three. I found the story to be slow moving and dull. The actors themselves give fine performances, particularly Kenneth McMillan (also seen in King's Salem Lot as Constable Parkins Gillespie) as the evil and jealous Cressner. It's just that I don't find a story spent mostly out on a ledge to be all that exciting. Sure, we know the character can fall to his death, but we also know that would be the end of the story. And yes, horror fans usually have a basic idea of who is going to live and who is going to die in any movie. It's just that this instance is with one particular scene and with one particular character, and the scene is much too long to enjoy.
The third story, The General, is a mixed bag. It ties up the cat's journey and visions it had of the little girl. The constant complaining from the mother is a bit annoying, though I suppose it is a necessity in order to setup her handling of the cat. I enjoyed the monster and the cat's battle with it. Some of the monster effects, particularly the shots with the rear-projected background, look both cheesy and dated by today's standards. That's nearly always the case with older movies, especially ones with giant or small monsters interacting with something of the opposite size via a rear-projected background. The standalone shots of the monsters look great in my opinion.
I was pleasantly surprised by Cat's Eye. Two out of three is a hit in my book. If you enjoy horror anthologies, I highly recommend this one.
Cat's Eye is present in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. This is hands down one of the best PAL transfers I've ever seen. I have two methods of watching PAL DVDs. The first is through a region free cheapo Apex player on my 16x9 Toshiba NTSC TV. The second is through a Hollywood Plus decoder card on a small 4x3 TV. My primary viewing was on the 16x9 TV; my secondary viewing, which was to listen to the commentary, was on the 4x3 TV. Unfortunately, neither method will properly convert the 16x9 image, meaning I was stuck watching the movie in 4x3 widescreen on both TVs. It is indeed a 16x9 DVD; I was able to confirm that by playing it in on my computer. There were no signs of MPEG artifacts, which is usually quite common during the PAL-NTSC conversion. The image is sharp, clear, and grain free. There were no signs of any print blemishes either. Colors were rich and fairly vibrant. This is a top notch transfer that I'm rating with an A-.
Equally impressive as the transfer is the English Dolby Stereo. The soundtrack is nice and powerful, with clear dialogue and good channel separation. No distortion or other audio problems were heard.
Also included are German Dolby Stereo and Italian mono soundtracks. There's a whole boatload of subtitles on the DVD. Here's the complete list - German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and Swedish.
A commentary track is included with director Lewis Teague. Unfortunately, there's only about 10-15 minutes total of Lewis actually commenting on the movie. The rest of the time the track is silent. He does provide a few interesting tidbits about the movie, the cast - including the animals, and various scenes and their effects. I was a bit letdown by the lack of comments; I was surprised he didn't have more to say about the movie. He does make mention of an extended prologue that was cut from the movie. Too bad it wasn't included as a deleted scene on the DVD.
Also included is a German theatrical trailer. One other thing worth nothing is that the menu is available in three different languages - Dutch, English, and Italian.
Cat's Eye is a great movie that has received an excellent PAL Region 2 DVD release from Kinowelt Home Entertainment. The transfer is absolutely stunning; US fans should hope and pray Warner's Region 1 NTSC DVD has an equally impressive transfer. With the Warner DVD scheduled to hit Region 1 in October 2002, most US fans are better off waiting, assuming the transfer is equally as good. The Warner DVD will have the same commentary track, as well as a theatrical trailer. For all of you PAL Region 2 people, this PAL DVD its top notch in terms of audio/video quality. With it's multiple language tracks and several different languages of subtitles, it's definitely an attractive purchase to PAL owners worldwide.
Movie - B
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - C+
- Running time - 1 hour 31 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English, German Dolby Stereo
- Italian Dolby Mono
- English, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, subtitles
- Commentary with director Lewis Teague
- Theatrical trailer