Cat's Eye (Blu-ray) (1985)

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Released 4-Oct-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror / Thriller Featurette-Robert Hays Remembers Cat's Eye
Featurette-A Conversation with Animal Trainer Teresa Ann Miller
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 94:19
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lewis Teague
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Drew Barrymore
James Woods
Alan King
Kenneth McMillan
Robert Hays
Candy Clark
James Naughton
Tony Munafo
Court Miller
James Rebhorn
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Celebrated horror author Stephen King has written many novels that have been adapted for the big screen, but he has also penned over two-hundred short stories, a number of which have been compiled into book collections. Following in the shadow of the horror anthology Creepshow, 1985’s Cat’s Eye is a 94-minute collection of three Stephen King short stories - the first two of which were previously published in the “Night Shift” collection, while the third is an original tale written by King directly for the big screen. The stories all involve different characters, but are linked by the appearance of a special tabby cat, while Drew Barrymore also appears in multiple roles throughout. Directed by Lewis Teague, Cat’s Eye may not be especially scary or creepy, but it does have its tense moments and the stories are backed by creative concepts.

    In New York City, Dick Morrison (James Woods) is desperate to quit smoking, and signs up to a smoking prevention course overseen by the unscrupulous Vinny Donatti (Alan King). But the company employs unconventional methods to help clients kick their smoking habit, including intimidation and torture. Donatti’s associates begin spying on Morrison around the clock, and one little slip-up will be met with dire consequences. A tomcat is being held by Quitters Inc., and once it escapes, it rides the Staten Island Ferry across to Atlantic City where he’s taken in by crime boss Cressner (Kenneth McMillan). Cressner orders the kidnapping of former tennis pro Johnny Norris (Robert Hays), who’s involved with Cressner’s wife and plans to leave town with her. Cressner blackmails Norris, forcing him to walk around the narrow ledge of his high-rise penthouse apartment in exchange for his freedom. If Norris refuses, he will be arrested for the drugs that have been planted in his car. The tabby cat manages to escape again, hopping aboard a freight train to North Carolina where he’s adopted by young Amanda (Barrymore), who affectionately names him “General.” While Amanda is instantly enamoured with the stray cat, her mother (Patricia Kalember) is more reluctant. However, a nasty troll lives in Amanda’s wall that’s intent on stealing her breath as she sleeps, and General could be the only one able to protect her.

    With King having written the screenplay for Cat’s Eye, there are several references to his other works - both the Saint Bernard dog from Cujo and the car from Christine are given cameos, while The Dead Zone plays on television at one point, and a character is seen reading the novel Pet Sematary. As previously stated, the picture is not as frightening as King’s reputation might suggest - it’s certainly less bloody than the likes of Creepshow or the 1983 movie adaptation of Cujo, which was also directed by Teague. All the segments feel more like Twilight Zone stories, really. Since this is an anthology and each tale only runs for roughly half an hour each, the movie is kept fresh and interesting throughout, and there’s no filler in each of the segments. To be sure, it’s more rewarding to see a feature-length story with more room to breathe, and with sufficient time for the characters to become rich and three-dimensional, but Cat’s Eye is still entertaining all the same, even if it doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of King’s best motion pictures.

    Those expecting white-knuckle horror are going to be disappointed, but the second story - “The Ledge” - is noticeably intense. The extended sequence of Norris outside on the narrow ledge is armrest-clenching at times, though it’s still not exactly “horror.” Meanwhile, the first segment - “Quitters Inc.” - introduces themes of paranoia to nice effect, and the final story - “General” - plays out more along the lines of Gremlins. Indeed, “General” is an overly silly horror romp, but the final showdown between the troll and the cat is both exciting and fun. Admittedly, not all of the special effects shots throughout Cat’s Eye stand up to contemporary scrutiny, with some noticeably shoddy blue-screen and compositing effects, but for the most part the illusion holds up well enough. The movie also features an idiosyncratically cheesy ’80s synth score courtesy of Alan Silvestri (Predator, Back to the Future), which definitely dates the movie to a certain degree, enjoyable though it may be.

    On its own terms, Cat’s Eye is a fun enough cult curiosity, especially given King’s involvement and the selection of actors filling out the ensemble. Woods submits a particularly solid performance, while Barrymore is just right as an endearing little girl. Hell, even the central tabby cat is convincing - in fact, the cat’s near-misses with several cars beg the question about animal protection standards for 1980s filmmaking. Cat’s Eye is not must-see by any stretch, and I wish it was scarier, but it’s endearing schlock nevertheless.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Cat's Eye is currently available on Blu-ray in multiple territories, including Italy and Germany, and it was at long last released on BD in the United States courtesy of Warner Bros. in 2016. The well-reviewed WB release features a new 2K transfer created from a scan of the interpositive, and Umbrella have presumably made use of the same master. For this movie's Blu-ray debut in Australia, the AVC-encoded transfer is presented in 1080p high definition framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and it's destined to please fans of the movie. Umbrella have placed Cat's Eye on a dual-layered BD-50 and only use around 35GB of the disc, which is adequate for the 94-minute movie plus the smattering of bonus material. The movie itself takes up a fairly substantial 28GB of space, allowing for a more than generous bitrate throughout.

    It's evident from the outset that this is an organic presentation, with a fine grain structure that looks tight and well-refined, rather than blocky. With grain in-tact, there is ample fine detail on full display - nuances on faces and textures on clothing are capably brought out. Close-ups of the cat reveal a wealth of detail, allowing you to make out every hair on its body. The transfer is sharp as well, which honestly doesn't do many favours for some of the effects shots which involve compositing and blue-screening. Clarity is frequently astonishing, which suggests that a full, expensive restoration was performed. The transfer does look noticeable soft during a party sequence at the 24-minute mark, with heavier grain that's not quite as well defined, but it would appear that the scene is intentionally diffused - and the shortcomings and therefore attributable to the source. Thankfully, Umbrella did not employ any digital tampering whilst preparing the disc, as there are no signs of digital noise reduction or edge enhancement - instead, it's perfectly organic, and made me feel as if I was watching a print in the cinema.

    Colours look true to the source, carrying the general "look" of '80s film stock but appearing vivid enough. There is terrific depth to the presentation as well; see the 33-minute mark when the cat boards the Staten Island Ferry. Clarity remains top-flight during darker scenes set at night, with Norris' ordeal in the segment "The Ledge" maintaining excellent contrast and inky blacks, and there are no signs of black crush to boot. On that note, I also didn't detect any aliasing, banding, ringing or other encoding anomalies. Hell, I didn't even notice any print damage - the transfer looks pristine from top to bottom. I honestly did not expect much from Cat's Eye on Blu-ray, but it's one of the best catalogue transfers I've seen in recent memory. Then again, the movie was shot by veteran cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who also photographed classics like The African Queen and The Red Shoes (as well as Conan the Destroyer and Rambo: First Blood Part II). Beyond a few shots which look a tad rough (likely tracing back to the source), I have no complaints.

    Despite what the back cover says, there are English subtitles. There are a few errors (5:00 is written as 5200 at one stage), but the effort is still appreciated.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
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Overall

Audio

    Like the Warner Bros. Blu-ray release of Cat's Eye, Umbrella here provide a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track, reflecting how the movie was mixed for its theatrical release in 1985. Certain individuals may be disappointed that there's no 5.1 remix, but I'm happy enough with the theatrical audio, and this is a good track to boot. Although basic, this mostly front-centric track certainly gets the job done when it needs to - dialogue is always easy to hear and comprehend, and the lossless encoding allows for the audio to sound crystal clear. Alan Silvestri's often overwrought score comes through with precision, and there is sufficient impact to the creature sounds for the third story. The track is particularly impressive during "The Ledge," as there are strong wind sounds when Norris is on the ledge, hundreds of feet above the ground.

    The audio isn't reference-quality, as there isn't any panning or deliberate use of the surround channels, but it's a perfectly sufficient representation of the 32-year-old source. The English track is the sole audio option on the disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
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Surround Channel Use
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Extras

    Umbrella have assembled a worthwhile supplemental package, with a couple of exclusive featurettes (that were actually assembled by the company themselves) and a theatrical trailer.

Johnny Norris On The Ledge: Robert Hays Remembers Cat's Eye (HD; 27:34)

   In this exclusive Umbrella-produced featurette, Robert Hays sits down to field questions about the production of Cat's Eye. He talks about being sent endless screenplays after the success of Airplane!, working with Lewis Teague and Jack Cardiff, and shooting some of his scenes in the movie. The interview is presented without any visual flourishes aside from title screens with the questions. Oddly, this is presented in 1080i - the rest of the content on the disc is 1080p.

Like Herding Cats: A Conversation with Animal Trainer Teresa Ann Miller (HD; 7:37)

    In this fascinating interview, animal trainer Teresa Ann Miller talks about working on Cat's Eye with her father. She touches upon training the cats, and working with the cast. Again, title cards are displayed with the questions, but they seem redundant as Miller answers each question in sentences and explains all relevant background information.

Theatrical Trailer (HD; 1:34)

    A typically overwrought trailer for the movie. It's a nice inclusion to round out the disc. Presented in AVC-encoded 1080p at 1.78:1 (I am uncertain if it's open matte or cropped), but the source is questionable.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The region free United States release from Warner Bros. contains the following special feature that's not included on Umbrella's disc:

    It also contains the same trailer that's featured on the local release. However, Warner's disc misses out on the following Umbrella-produced content:
    This is a tough one, so I'm calling it a draw. A release which reconciles these extras would be definitive.

Summary

    Cat's Eye is an enjoyable Stephen King anthology movie, and though it falls short of brilliance, it's still worth checking out and it does have its fans.

    Umbrella have assembled a very good Blu-ray release. The high definition video presentation is excellent, far better than expected, and the audio is just as impressive. Throw in a few worthwhile special features, and this set is worth buying, especially if you're a fan of the movie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, November 07, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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