Also known as ‘Stephen King’s CAT’S EYE’, this 1984 film comprises three stories although only the first two are King adaptations whilst the third story had been created specifically for the film. Starring Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King Candy Clark and Robert Hays among the fine cast the real star is a stray tabby cat through whose eyes the stories unfold.

‘Quitters, Inc’:
This first story is in fact also the most surreal though before we enter the quite frankly bonkers and disturbing world of ‘Quitters’ - a special clinic helping smokers to kick the habit - we are introduced to the tabby cat of the title who is first seen being chased by a manky looking dog along the streets before hiding in a delivery truck en route to New York City (we even see the Twin Towers still standing proudly erect in the skyline). In front of a shop window the tomcat spots a dummy which seemingly comes to life (Drew Barrymore) for a few seconds pleading for help before the cat is picked up by a dodgy looking character called Junk (Tony Munafo) who, with the cat locked inside a cat carrier, drives off…
After this short ‘prelude’ we meet chain smoker Dick Morrison (James Woods) who, after taking advice from a well-meaning friend, is about to join the aforementioned Quitters clinic. While sitting in the waiting room filling out forms another, nervous, patient is angrily attacked by his seemingly injured wife who is let out of the patient’s room by counsellor Dr. Vinnie Donatti (Alan King). Although Dick doesn’t yet know why the woman attacks her husband by beating him with her handbag he soon will… Inside the consultation room Dr. Donatti brags about his 100% success rate thanks to the clinic’s persuasive and controversial methods, meaning that every time Dick has a relapse and attempts to smoke a cigarette ‘bad things’ will happen to his wife and his daughter. Dr. Donatti then gives a demonstration and we see the tomcat (the same one who was delivered by Junk) in a special room separated by shatterproof glass walls – the floorboards are rigged with devices from which electric shocks emanate to torment the poor puss by making it jump again and again. Just as an outraged Dick tries to put a stop to the obscene spectacle, Dr. Donatti calmly explains that next time it will be Dick’s wife Cindy (Mary D’Arcy) in the electric shock room and not the cat… provided of course Dick quits smoking. Donatti then proceeds with his threats and warns his new patient that ‘Quitters’ eyes are everywhere and he will be watched no matter where he goes or what he does. What follows are weeks of torment for Dick who grows increasingly paranoid and rightly so because he really is being watched – when he has a temporary relapse his wife finds herself indeed in Dr. Donatti’s electric shock glass cage though luckily for her she gets away with only her hair-do looking like Eraserhead’s. Meanwhile, the tabby cat escapes the clutches of Junk and can be seen roaming the streets again. After almost surreal hallucinations during which Dick sees everyone around him smoking multiple and oversized cigarettes and even paintings seem to have eyes watching over him with cigarette smoke coming out of the artwork, he indeed manages to quit smoking for good but now has a weight-problem… which brings us to the twist in the story but hey, we won’t reveal it here.

‘The Ledge’:
Understandably fed up with Manhattan our tomcat manages to get aboard the Staten Island Ferry and ends up in Atlantic City, NJ, where it spots the same disembodied girl (Drew Barrymore again) asking for help before Mr. Tomcat is nearly run over in the busy street outside a casino entrance and we meet nasty crime boss and casino owner Cressner (Kenneth McMillan) who stands next to his glamorous young wife and ex-tennis pro turned gambler Johnny Norris (Robert Hays) with whom Cressner’s wife happens to be having an affair. Betting on everything for a dime Cressner bets the cat will make it from one side of the street to the other whereas his wife and Norris aren’t so sure but hey, this one is not only a traffic-savvy cat but a feline who sure as hell must have sussed by now that most humans aren’t worth a dime anyway. Seeing how he won the bet Cressner considers the cat – hissing at him – his latest possession and takes it back to his penthouse. Meanwhile, two of his henchmen including Albert (Jesse Doran) kidnap Norris (who was about to drive off to his own apartment with Cressner’s wife beside him) and bring him to Cressner. Albert plants a bag of heroin inside a tennis bag in Noriss’ car boot. At Cressner’s penthouse on top of a high-rise building the crime boss has a proposition for Norris: either climb onto the exterior ledge and circumnavigate the outer walls (if Norris survives the ordeal then Cressner will grant his wife a divorce) or, should Norris refuse to do so, then he will call the cops and have his love rival arrested for alleged possession of drugs… Surprisingly Norris agrees and has to endure the worst hour of his life, what with Cressner never missing an opportunity to endanger Norris’ perilous situation further but oh dear, a pigeon who isn’t happy about sharing the ledge with the sudden intruder starts pecking at his ankle… Miraculously Norris survives but when it’s time for Cressner (who didn’t expect Norris would make it) to keep his side of the bargain he shows his nasty side once more before he gets a taste of his own medicine…

‘General’
Tomcat has decided it’s time to travel again, this time by means of a freight train which brings the feisty feline to Wilmington, NC, where he is promptly ‘adopted’ by a little girl called Amanda (Drew Barrymore) who turns out to be the disembodied girl from the first two stories. Although Amanda’s mum Sally Ann (Candy Clark) and dad Hugh (James Naughton) allow their daughter to keep the cat, which she names ‘General’, indoors during the day Sally Ann sees to it that the animal is put outside at night despite the little girl’s protests and her stories that a malevolent troll resides in the house which emerges through a hole in the wall inside Amanda’s bedroom. Despite ‘General’s’ friendly demeanour Sally Ann remains suspicious about the stray cat and feels she’s proven right when Amanda’s parakeet is slain during the night… It was of course the troll who also injured ‘General’ with his tiny dagger but the parents don’t believe a word of it – well, would you? While Amanda is away in school Sally Ann lures the cat with tuna inside a cardboard box which she then, rather heartlessly, delivers to the local animal shelter… but forever on alert our lovable ball of fur escapes before being euthanized. Returning back to Amanda’s room, ‘General’ arrives just in time before all hell breaks loose and the evil troll can do more damage – this time round the perplexed parents have no other option than to believe their daughter as they discover the troll’s remains and as a thank you ‘General’ is allowed to stay for good. Incidentally, Drew Barrymore was nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award’ in the ‘Best Starring Performance by a Young Actress in Motion Picture’ category, now that’s a mouthful.

Viewers will have their own favourite story, though in terms of quirkiness and downright unsettling imagery the price ought to go to ‘Quitters, Inc.’ with James Woods in top form as the victim of a more than dubious clinic…

CAT’S EYE has just been released in a brand-new 4K restoration on Ultra HD and Blu-ray, including interview with director Lewis Teague and ‘Robert Hays remembers The Man on the Ledge’ among the Special Features.

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