Film: Cat's Eye

For other works by this name, go here.

Cat's Eye is a 1985 anthology film directed by Lewis Teague and based upon short stories by Stephen King (the first two of which are part of the Night Shift collection, while the third was written by King for this movie). Teague had previously directed another Stephen King adaptation in Cujo. Drew Barrymore appears in the film's last segment in one of her earlier film roles.

In the film, a stray cat links together three tales of suspense and horror:

  • Quitters, Inc. — Longtime smoker Dick Morrison discovers how far a mysterious company claiming to be the end-all cure for smoking will go to make it happen. (The cat becomes part of the company's demonstration of its methods.)
  • The Ledge — A casino owner named Cressner kidnaps gambler Johnny Norris (who's been sleeping with Cressner's wife) and makes a bet with him: if he can make it around the narrow ledge of Cressner's penthouse, Cressner will divorce his wife, but if Norris refuses to try, he'll be framed for drug possession. (The cat is picked up by Cressner early in the story and plays a role in its climax.)
  • The General — The cat finds its way to North Carolina, where it becomes the adopted pet of a little girl. The girl, whose voice the cat had heard in its head earlier in the film, is in danger due to a troll living in her wall. Only the cat can stop the troll...but the troll isn't going down without a fight.

Cat's Eye contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Trolls Are Different: The troll is a vicious, small creature who emerges out of children's bedroom walls to kill them by stealing their breath. While intelligent, it can't talk, but does have humanlike clothing and a small knife for defense.
  • Anthology Film: The three stories in the film are completely unrelated. General the cat is the only element linking them, as he witnesses them during his journey to save a little girl from a troll.
  • Badass Adorable: General the Cat
  • Balloonacy: During their final battle, the troll tries to escape General by flying away on a bunch of helium mylar balloons. It works only partly and General manages to catch him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: General in the final story.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: In the final story, a tiny troll lurks in the walls of Amanda's bedroom and steals her breath while she sleeps.
  • Cats Are Magic: The three stories are tied together by a wandering street cat who is on a journey to save a little girl from a troll-like creature, after he received a psychic signal of some sort.
  • Cats Are Mean: Inverted. General is the hero of the film, especially at the end, when he uses a record player to throw the troll into the fan.
  • The Cameo: Cujo and Christine appear during the film's opening scene.
  • Child Eater: The little troll; he kills children by stealing their breath.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: How the little troll gets disposed of in the end.
  • Determinator:
    • Nothing is going to stop General from protecting Amanda.
    • Johnny while making his trek across the ledge.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After going through hell throughout the entire film, the cat finally manages to find a home with the family of the young girl.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Christine will run over humans, but will brake for cats.
  • Evil All Along: At the very end, General creeps up on Amanda; the music suggests that he's Evil All Along. Instead he gives her a kiss and cuddles into her arms, providing a rare heartwarming ending from a Stephen King story. Awww.
  • Evil Detecting Cat: General keeps hissing at Cressner. He also knows a troll is lurking about.
  • Evil Is Petty: Cressner does not take kindly to his wife's relationship with Johnny Norris. As a prize for winning the "bet", however, he offers his wife. He never said he'd give Norris all of his wife, though...
  • Eye Open: The movie opens with a close-up on one of General's eyes. Serves also as a visual Title Drop.
  • The Film of the Book: The first two stories are from Night Shift. There are some notable changes, but they're largely faithful.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: In "The Ledge", a brutish goon of Mr. Cressner is called "Ducky".
  • Forced to Watch: In "Quitters, Inc.", after smoking once, Dick is forced to watch Cindy in the electric cage.
  • Freudian Excuse: The final segment suggests Amanda's mother's hatred of cats stems from her own mother telling her stories of the evil done by cats, such as stealing their breaths. Which happens to be what General is trying to prevent the troll from doing.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Mostly played straight through the movie, but at the end, the ground-up troll gibs are presented in technicolor glory to the audience. Ewww.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The troll finally gets a little Nightmare Fuel, after it mauls the parakeet to death, and goes to suck out Amanda's breath.
  • Ironic Echo: In "The Ledge", "Just keeping you on your toes."
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: The main method of Quitters Inc., is to enforce this trope on their clients as harshly as possible. All to get them to quit smoking. First they torture their loved ones with electrocution, then proceed to mutilation with further "transgressions". If the smoker still can't quit, Quitters Inc.'s management "give up" on their clients.
  • Karma Houdini: The mysterious managers of Quitters, Inc. - in fact, right at the end it's revealed that they have gotten away with their intimidation and mutilation many times before.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Amanda, who falls in love with General at first sight. Averted with the mother, who's the exact opposite, just waiting for an opportunity to get rid of the cat, and practically revelling in capturing him and taking him to get euthanized.
  • Killed By The Adaptation: Cressner - whereas his fate at the end of the story is never stated [though it's implied Norris will push him off the ledge if he does indeed make it back], he definitely falls off in the movie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Cressner. He runs into the exact same pigeon that his victim did, tries to kick it, and falls off the ledge - landing on the same horn that he'd thrown out the window previously.
    • The troll as well; after gibbing Amanda's pet parakeet to frame General, he meets his end by getting gibbed himself — on screen.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Mostly averted, but the leftovers of the troll, after it was ground up in the fan weren't pretty.
  • Mistaken Identity: The troll frames the cat after mauling the parakeet to death, so he would have an uncontested shot at stealing Amanda's breath.
  • Mythology Gag: In "The Ledge," a Penthouse issue is prominently seen after Johnny has gained the upperhand. The July 1976 issue was where the original story was published.
  • Off with His Head!: Also in "The Ledge", a character is beheaded offscreen - Cressner's wife. Delivered as promised.
  • Only Sane Man: In the last story, Amanda's father. He might not believe his daughter's claims of a monster, but he's handling the whole situation better than his wife.
  • Pet the Dog: Cressner bets on General surviving crossing traffic and takes him back to his apartment to be fed when he does. He later shows no regard for General and almost steps on him during his petty torments of Norris. This comes back to bite Cressner when General causes one of his goons to fall over during his escape, allowing Norris to gain the upper hand.
  • Plummet Perspective: On "The Ledge", with a cornet.
  • The Precarious Ledge: The second segment, "The Ledge", is built around this trope. A man is kidnapped by his lover's powerful and jealous husband for planning to run away with his wife. The husband makes the protagonist an offer: if he can navigate the minuscule ledge outside his top floor penthouse all the way around the building, he will divorce his wife, if not, he will frame the man for drug charges.
  • Properly Paranoid: Though only Amanda truly believes that the troll framed General for killing the parakeet, Amanda's father finds it suspicious that General somehow got such a large slash mark.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Quitters Inc is an entire business of this. Their methods on smokers only apply to their clients.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The minitroll in his Gross-Up Close-Up.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After Cressner goes back on his word and reveals that he has murdered his wife, he tries to buy his way out by offering an enraged and gun-toting Norris millions of dollars. Norris has a much better plan for revenge — make Cressner the same offer to walk around the ledge and gain his freedom as the one he offered him.
  • Self-Deprecation: Dick Morrison on "Quitters Inc" is seen watching The Dead Zone, and he remarks "I don't understand what this movie is about... I don't know who writes this crap."
  • Smug Snake: Cressner gloats endlessly on how he's bested Norris and torments him for kicks during his dangerous walk around the ledge.
  • Spanner in the Works: General trips up Cressner's gunman, allowing Johnny to get the gun and the upperhand.
  • Troll: Aside from the literal one, Cressner does some things that he considers funny in order to goad Norris into slipping and falling, such as blowing a horn loudly.
    Cressner: Just keeping you on your toes!
  • Villainous Breakdown: After being a Smug Snake throughout the second segment, Cressner starts to panic and cry as Johnny forced him on the ledge, while cursing his hatred for Johnny.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: A character played by James Woods complains "Who writes this crap?" while watching David Cronenberg's adaptation of Stephen King's The Dead Zone on TV. King wrote the screenplay for Cat's Eye.