A stray cat has an adventure across the country as he bears witness
to three tales of terror inspired by the work of Stephen King.
Cat's Eye (1985)
Directed by Lewis Teague
Written by Stephen King
Starring Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King,
Robert Hays, Kenneth McMillan, Candy Clark,
James Naughton, Mike Starr, Tony Munafo
Based on the short stories "Quitters Inc."
and "The Ledge" by Stephen King
The 80's was both the best and worst time to be a Stephen King fan. It seemed like all of his best stories were being adapted to film, and only about half were any good. For every Dead Zone, you had about four Maximum Overdrives. Anthology films like Cat's Eye tried to do his short stories justice and for the most part, the film accomplishes this. It adapts two of King's best stories from his first collection, Night Shift, and then finishes up with a weird troll creature fighting a cat. For me, at least, that's where the film went off the rails and stopped being enjoyable.
The first story, "Quitters Inc.", stars James Woods as a habitual smoker who joins a company that promises that they will get you to stop smoking no matter what. This story is adapted perfectly, particularly the tension that rises once you realize that Quitters Inc. is a Mafia-run organization that uses very real threats to convince their clients to quit for good. Alan King is fantastic as the head of the company, Mr. Donatti, and Woods knocks it out of the park as well. Right off the bat, Cat's Eye is off to a great start.
The second story, "The Ledge," stars Robert Hays as a man who gets in bed with a mob lord's wife and is then challenged to walk around the outside ledge of the mobster's penthouse in exchange for clemency. This story was also adapted perfectly, with Hays delivering a convincing performance of a man holding on for dear life (literally). As the plot threading cat escapes Las Vegas and heads to North Carolina, I was anxious as to which classic King story would be this film's grand finale.
The final story, "General," stars Drew Barrymore as a young girl being plagued by a demon troll/gnome thing that is trying to steal her breath. The cat we've been following the whole movie has been trying to reach this girl so he can kill the monster. Compared to the first two stories, this one is so weak that it ultimately kills the whole film. Now it's impossible to enjoy the first two knowing that there is no payoff in the end. Considering how many fantastic short stories King has written since the 70's, I'll never understand why he decided to end with something that not only wasn't based on a story, but that makes zero sense and doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the film. Needless to say, the film ultimately disappoints me, even if it does justice to two of my favorite stories.