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Film / The Uncanny

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The Uncanny is a 1977 British/Canadian anthology horror film, concerning feline revenge. The film was written by Michael Parry, directed by Denis Héroux, and stars Peter Cushing, Samantha Eggar, Ray Milland, Susan Penhaligan, Donald Pleasence, Alexandra Stewart, and John Vernon.

Wilbur Gray (Cushing), a horror writer, has stumbled upon a terrible secret: that cats are supernatural creatures who really call the shots. In a desperate attempt to get others to believe him, Wilbur spews three tales of feline horror.


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The Uncanny contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All Witches Have Cats: In "Quebec province, 1975", Lucy turns out to be a young witch in the making, and her cat Wellington is implicitly her familiar. As her mean cousin Angela will soon learn, attempting to deprive a witch of her cat is a very bad idea.
  • Asshole Victim: None of the victims (except for Wilbur) in this film are nice people;
    • Michael is cheating on his wife with his aunt's maid, Janet, who murders said aunt in order to help Michael illegally obtain an inheritance.
    • Angela is cruel to her cousin Lucy, an orphan whose parent perished in a plane crash, even forcing her parents to get rid of Lucy's emotional support cat.
    • Valentine De'ath murders his wife so he could be with his mistress and give her his wife's acting role in an upcoming film.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Cats, in this case.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Valentine cements his position as a villain when he drowns Scat's three kittens (fortunately off-screen).
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  • Book Burning: In "Quebec province, 1975", Joan burns Lucy's books on witchcraft. This is a particularly cruel and heartless thing to do, as the books are one of the few things Lucy has left to remember her mother by.
  • The Cat Came Back: In both the "Quebec province, 1975" and "Hollywood, 1938" segments, Aunt Joan and Valentine (respectively) make multiple attempts to dispose of a cat, only to have the feline return to plague them.
  • Cats Are Mean: The basic premise of movie is that cats are not only mean, they are downright bloodthirsty and will not hesitate to exact fatal vengeance upon humans who wrong them or anyone they're fond of.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Miss Malkin in the "London, 1912" segment. However, given that she is extremely wealthy, she should probably be referred to as an eccentric cat lady.
  • Death by Materialism: In the "London, 1912" segment, both Janet and Michael die because they attempt to destroy the will that will remove Michael's inheritance.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Both Janet and Wilbur are mauled to death by house cats.
  • Destroy the Evidence: At the end of the movie, Frank tosses Wilbur's manuscript into the fire, after receiving an unnerving stare from his cat. Considering Wilbur's fate, it was probably the right call.
  • Dog Food Diet: In "London, 1912", Janet is reduced to eating cat food when she is trapped in the kitchen by the horde of cats.
  • Drowning Unwanted Pets: Valentine De'ath not only murders his wife, but also drowns her cat Scat's kittens. Scat extracts horrible vengeance for both of these acts.
  • From Dress to Dressing: While trapped in the kitchen by the cats, Janet tears up her petticoat and uses it to bind the worst of her wounds.
  • He Knows Too Much: The cats decide that they can't have Wilbur exposing their supernatural secrets to the world, even if no one else believes him, and permanently silence him in the end.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In "Quebec province, 1975", Lucy uses black magic to reduce her cousin Angela to the size of a mouse.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Wilbur believes that cats are at the centre of a massive conspiracy to control humans, and will murder anyone who discovers the truth. The end of the film indicates he is probably right.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: In 1936, in Hollywood, the actor Valentine De'ath replaces the blade of a fake pendulum to kill his actress wife, and give his young mistress and aspiring actress a chance.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Miss Malkin disinherits her spendthrift nephew, leaving him only the price of a splendid meal at a fine restaurant, as it is likely to be the last one he ever has. Instead, she leaves her fortune to her cats.
  • Pendulum of Death: Valentine De'ath replaces the blade of a fake pendulum to kill his actress wife, and give his young mistress and aspiring actress a chance.
  • Pet Heir: Miss Malkin cuts her spendthrift nephew out of her will and leaves her entire fortune to her cats.
  • Reverse Psychology: Lucy tells Angela not to step inside the circle because it might be dangerous, knowing that it will cause Angela to do exactly that.
  • Ritual Magic: In the "Quebec province 1975", Lucy casts her spells via ritual magic.
  • Spoiled Brat: Angela in the "Quebec province 1975" segment. Her cruelty to Lucy earns a terrible fate at the hands of her cousin and her cat.
  • Staircase Tumble: Janet trips over one of the cats as she attempt to flee the house and tumbles down the stairs, where she is mauled to death by the cats.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The body language of most of the cats in this film is "happy" rather than "vicious".
  • Trampled Underfoot: After Lucy shrinks Angela to the size of a mouse, she steps on her and crushes her.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Janet murders Miss Malkin by smothering her with a pillow. Miss Malkin puts up more of a struggle than victims of this trope usually do, and Janet ends up using her entire body weight to pin the pillow over her face.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Valentine discovers that Scat is female when she gives birth to kittens.


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