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4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review: Cat’s eye

cat’s eye

United States: 1985
Original title : –
Directed by: Lewis Teague
Screenplay: Stephen King
Actors: Drew Barrymore, James Woods, Alan King
Publisher: StudioCanal
Duration: 1h35
Genre: Sketch film, Fantasy
BR4K Release Date: May 25, 2022

A mysterious cat ties together three stories of suspense and horror. In the first, a good family man tries to quit smoking with the help of a dodgy personal development coach. In the second story, a casino owner kidnaps Johnny Norris, his wife’s lover, and forces him to take up a more than dangerous bet. Finally, a young girl has trouble sleeping. His parents suspect their new cat to be behaving strangely and to be the cause. Reality hits him when a terrifying troll comes out of his bedroom wall…

The film

[3,5/5]

With the international success of shining in 1980, Stanley Kubrick contributed, perhaps in spite of himself, to paving the way for a large wave of cinematographic adaptations of the work of Stephen King. This Hollywood propensity to bring Stephen King’s novels to the big screen has never really stopped for about forty years, to the point that “Stephen King’s adaptation” has now almost become a – genre of fantastic cinema in its own right, and has already been the subject of several books around the world. If the sauce hadn’t really taken with Carrie in 1976, the 80s considerably accelerated the situation: the success of Stephen King films would be rapid and resounding during this decade, and as early as 1983, three adaptations of King’s novels would already be released on American screens: Dead Zone – The Accidentdirected by David Cronenberg, Christinadirected by John Carpenter, and Cujodirected by Lewis Teague.

At the beginning of the 80s, Stephen King also began, in parallel with his career as a writer, to write original screenplays: the first is the horror anthology creepshowwhich was directed by George A. Romero in 1982. Three years later, producer Dino De Laurentiis commissioned a second anthology from Stephen King, starring the fledgling Drew Barrymore, who had starred the previous year in Charlie – Firestarter, a fantastic film already based on a novel by King. The result of this collaboration between Stephen King and Dino De Laurentiis is therefore the very little known cat’s eye, a collection of three short horror stories linked together by the presence of a cat, a demonic race par excellence. In a rather curious way, the film, again directed by Lewis Teague, would not be released in theaters in France, but directly on video – skimmers of video clubs will undoubtedly remember having discovered the film by through a VHS edited by Delta Video.

The scenario of cat’s eye will necessarily say something to lovers of Stephen King’s novels, and for good reason: the first two segments are indeed adapted from two short stories from the collection “Danse macabre”, of which Dino De Laurentiis owned the rights: it is ” Desintox, Inc.” and “La Corniche”. The third sketch, “The General”, the one featuring little Drew Barrymore, is an original script, having been written especially for the film. Otherwise, cat’s eye opens with a sequence that will also clearly refer to Cujo and to Christina, the St-Bernard cutting the road to a red Plymouth Fury. Subsequently, we will also see the character played by James Woods watch Dead Zone on television, wondering “who wrote this shit”. In the same vein, later in the film, we will see the mother of little Drew Barrymore (Candy Clark) reading “Simetierre” in her bed.

Effective film, intelligently using a budget that we imagine to be relatively limited, cat’s eye has forged a solid reputation over the years in the hearts of fans of the work of Stephen King, and a little more than 35 years after its release in the United States, the film arrives today in a Blu- quite unexpected 4K Ultra HD ray. The link between the different stories that will be told to us by Lewis Teague’s film is made through a cat, first captured by an agent of Quitters, Inc., an organization for people who want to quit smoking. The first sketch develops fierce humor against anti-tobacco lobbies, described as “mafia” organisations. In the main role, that of a penitent and paranoid smoker, James Woods gratifies us with a performance as always very effective, at the heart of which he can give free rein to a certain comic talent.

At the end of the first segment of cat’s eyethe cat escapes, and we find him in Atlantic City to The Corniche, where his efforts to cross a busy road will become the subject of a bet for a high roller named Cressner (Kenneth McMillan), who will eventually take him home after winning. Cressner then realizes that his wife is cheating on him with a tennis player, Johnny Norris (Robert Hays). Cressner kidnaps him and then offers him a deadly bet: if he manages to circumnavigate the narrow ledge that surrounds his apartment, Norris wins the woman, a large sum of money and freedom. In the end, and without revealing too much about who wins the bet, the cat manages to escape once more.

For the third sketch of cat’s eye, we will follow the feline to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he is adopted by Amanda (Drew Barrymore), who calls him “the General”. The latter will have a lot to do to protect the little girl, because Amanda is tracked by a troll who hides in the walls of her room and comes out at night to steal her breath. Will the General be able to save her? This final segment of the anthology cat’s eye is thus the only one to stage a “monster”, and more broadly an intrigue pouring completely into the fantastic. It’s also unfortunately the worst of the three, despite Lewis Teague’s efforts to leave his creature in the shadows for as long as possible, and despite the excellent use of the Police song “Every breath you take”.

Paradoxically, and while Stephen King’s career has been entirely built on the imaginary and the fantastic, it is perhaps the introduction – as frank as it is abrupt – of supernatural elements in the last part of cat’s eye which dampens the breath of our enthusiasm a little. The first two sketches played the card of a certain realism tinged with dark humor, and worked perfectly. Perhaps our disappointment is simply related to the fact that the Troll of the last story is, um… Let’s say “typical of the 80s”, and faithful to the memory that we have of films such as Troll (John Carl Buechler, 1986) or Ghoulies (Luca Bercovici, 1985) – the creature thus takes us directly back to a time – blessed among all – when computer-generated images did not make this kind of creature common.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

[5/5]

Above all, we can only take our hat off to the publisher StudioCanalwhich proves us again with this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of cat’s eye that it is the absolute and essential leader of the French market with regard to 4K technology. Lewis Teague’s film has been restored and digitized in 4K/16 bits by Picture Shop LLC (USA) from the original 35mm negative. Color calibration and restoration, on the other hand, were carried out by the laboratory Hiventy (France). The decision to release today in France and in 4K a film such as cat’s eye is extremely surprising, and shows great editorial audacity on the part of StudioCanal, which is applauded with both hands. This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will allow a whole new generation to discover Lewis Teague’s film in exceptional conditions.

Because objectively, cat’s eye has never looked so good; the presentation of the film in 2160p/HDR gives the image its letters of nobility, and especially the sublime photography of the film signed by the immense Jack Cardiff. The image is remarkably stable, and carefully preserves the original silver grain, regular and fine. The sharpness as well as the level of detail are sharp and precise, everything is done so that the viewer literally rediscovers the visual richness of the film, whether in terms of sets, costumes or depth of field. HDR color enhancement also gives us whole new insights: colors actually blossom in the picture, displaying both significantly improved depth and intensity. Add to that absolutely sublime black levels and brilliant whites: the contribution of HDR10 technology finds its purest and most spectacular expression here. On the sound side, cat’s eye also benefited from a solid acoustic restoration, with VO/VF mixed in DTD-HD Master Audio 2.0. The two mixes are particularly clear and convincing in the restitution of the dialogues and the different atmospheres. Nice work.

On the side of supplements, we will start first with a audio commentary by Lewis Teague (VOST), recorded in 2002 when the film was released on DVD in the United States. Fascinating, complete and informative, this commentary will allow the filmmaker to discuss his career as a director, as well as the genesis of cat’s eyethe experience of working alongside Stephen King, filming, special effects… We will then continue with a interview with Lewis Teague (12 minutes). After quickly situating the film within his career, he will come back to the prologue he had shot with actress Patti Lupone, which was cut by the studio. He will also discuss his good relationship with Dino De Laurentiis, the film’s special effects, as well as actors James Woods and Drew Barrymore. We will continue with a interview with Robert Hays (28 minutes), which will allow the unforgettable actor to Is there a pilot on the plane ? to look back on his filming memories: his relationships with the cat and the other actors, the unexpected dangers of filming on the ledge, his cracked rib, his love of old school special effects… Interesting. We will also be entitled to a interview with Teresa Ann Miller (8 minutes), animal trainer, who will return to the importance of cat’s eye in his career in the cinema, on his apprenticeship alongside his father Karl Lewis Miller as well as on some of the trade secrets in order to try to make a cat obey. Finally, we will end with the traditional trailer.

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