Release Date(s)1985 (October 5, 2017)
Studio(s)MGM/UA (Umbrella Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C-
[Editor’s Note: This is an Australian REGION FREE Blu-ray release – ignore the packaging markings.]
I think it’s safe to say that after the release of Creepshow, Stephen King must have caught the anthology film bug. This might explain why the next screenplay he wrote was Cat’s Eye. Over the course of King’s career, many filmmakers have taken stabs at his short stories and adapted them for either television or the big screen. Cat’s Eye was arguably the first to approach this concept, as King adapted two of his own stories and added a third that was brand new.
Directed by Lewis Teague, whom genre fans might recognize as the director of Cujo and Alligator, Cat’s Eye is interesting in that each story has its own style and personality. They’re are linked to the presence of a cat, which wanders in and out of each narrative, playing mostly a smaller part until the end. The first story, Quitters, Inc., tells of a man (James Woods) who seeks a company’s help in giving up his smoking habit. Little does he know that they’ll do almost anything to keep him smoke-free. The second story, The Ledge, is about a man (Robert Hays) who’s been messing around with a crime boss’ wife. Once caught, the boss forces the man to walk out on a thin ledge surrounding his penthouse building; if he succeeds he’s free to go with the wife and some cash. The third story, General, follows the aforementioned cat into the home of a young girl (Drew Barrymore), who is convinced that a troll is appearing at night to terrorize her in her bed. Quitters, Inc. definitely pushes the weird in some places, while General acts as a mini monster movie. And all three have nods to King’s other work, including Cujo, Christine, Pet Sematary, and The Dead Zone.
In October of 2016, Warner Home Video finally released Cat’s Eye on Blu-ray. Now a year later, another release of the film has emerged from Umbrella Entertainment. After watching and looking closely at side-by-side screen grabs, I can confirm that the transfer used for Umbrella’s Region Free release is the same transfer used for Warner’s Region A release, with the encodes appearing nearly identical to each other. It’s a fresh new HD transfer and the results are spectacular. It’s easily the best that the film has ever looked on home video, with Jack Cardiff’s lovely cinematography well-represented. Grain levels are unobtrusive and even throughout, revealing a vast amount of detail, depth, and clarity. The color palette is very naturalistic, but skin tones often feel a bit too orange at times. Deep blacks reveal some good shadow detailing, while brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. This is also a surprisingly clean presentation given the film’s age. Only a single audio track is available: English 2.0 DTS-HD. It offers a very good stereo presentation, with mostly front and center dialogue and sound effects with some added directionality and ambience. The score also has plenty of room to breathe in the mix, as well as unexpected low end activity can be felt. There are also subtitles in English if needed, plus a couple of extras, which are exclusive to this release: Johnny Norris on the Edge: Robert Hays Remembers Cat’s Eye and “Like Herding Cats”: A Conversation with Animal Trainer Teresa Ann Miller. The movie’s original theatrical trailer is also included. Missing from the Warner Bros. Blu-ray is an audio commentary by director Lewis Teague.
It’s strange how little people talk about Cat’s Eye these days. Though other Stephen King adaptations have probably overshadowed it, the film offers an excellent trio of stories, shot beautifully and with terrific performances by both the cat and the human actors. In other words, Cat’s Eye deserves a second look, whether you pop in Warner Bros’ Blu-ray or Umbrella Entertainment’s. Both feature excellent presentations of the film.
- Tim Salmons