The Uncanny (1977)

THE UNCANNY (1977)
Article 4419 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-11-2014
Directed by Denis Heroux
Featuring Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood
Country: Canada / UK
What it is: Horror anthology

A writer tries to convince a publisher that his collection of cat horror stories are all true and proof of the evil intent of the animals. In the first, an old woman wills her fortune to her cats, but two prospective heirs hatch a plan to get the money themselves. In the second, a young orphan girl whose only friend is her cat is terrorized by an older girl who is jealous of her cat. In the third, a horror star who has engineered the death of his cat-loving former wife finds himself a target for the revenge of the pet.

Given that cats have often been used as instruments of horror, I supposed I’m not really surprised that a movie anthology exists that consists entirely of horror stories involving cats; I am, however, a bit surprised that there are two of them, the latter being CAT’S EYE from 1985. The first story is probably the most effective; it’s also the most straightforward and the goriest. The second one is a bit off the theme; despite the fact that it mines scares from a cat in the same way that THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN does, the cat is certainly not the primary force of evil here. The third one features Donald Pleasence in a rare comic role as a somewhat foppish horror actor, and though he does a good job, the segment isn’t very funny and there’s some historical inaccuracy here as well; it takes place in Hollywood in 1936, and given that the Hays office was in place at that time, there’s no way the horror movie we see being shot would have approved, and a reference to Tweety Bird is at least a decade too early. Furthermore, there seem to be key scenes missing as well; we never learn how the cat escapes in the second story, for example. The framing story is fairly obvious, but at least it features the talents of Peter Cushing and Ray Milland to spice them up. All in all, it has the feel of a weak Amicus anthology, and though it’s not from Amicus, the presence of producer Milton Subotsky may explain why it feels that way.

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