CAT OF THE DAY 023: INFERNO

CAT OF THE DAY 023: INFERNO (1980)

Dario Argento’s horror film is a major cat movie, and showcases cats in a variety of different settings. In Rome, music student Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) gets a letter from his sister Rose in New York telling him about The Three Mothers, evil sisters who rule the world. Mark reads the letter during a class while Verdi’s Va, pensiero chorus from Nabucco is playing. Something is making him uncomfortable; he looks up to find a young woman (Ana Pieroni) and her fluffy cat staring at him intently.

The young woman is one of the evil sisters – The Mater Lacrimarum or The Mother of Tears. I’m not entirely sure how we know that; she might be just a non-evil music student hanging out in a cocktail gown – except the cat is a dead giveaway, effortlessly demonstrating all the attributes of a WHITE CAT OF EVIL except for the colour of its fur, which is kind of champagne-coloured.

Elsewhere in the film, Elise (Daria Nicolodi) is attacked by cats (in other words, someone offscreen throws cats at her head) before being stabbed to death, though not by the cats. In an attempt to make them seem more vicious, there are big close-ups of their teeth and claws, though cat-lovers will probably just think awwww will you stop throwing those cute kitties at the girl?

Later, a crippled antique dealer tries to drown a sackful of cats in Central Park in the middle of the night, but falls into the water and gets eaten by rats. Which serves him right, though imdb trivia assures me the sack did not contain cats but a mechanical device to simulate their movement. Hmm.

Nevertheless, this being an Italian horror movie, far from the bailiwick of the American Humane Association, I don’t suppose those cats were exactly cossetted on set, apart from maybe Champagne-Coloured Cat of Evil, which looks perfectly comfy in the arms of  Mater Lacrimarum.

Those bare arms, though. I bet it was de-clawed.

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Posted in A Major Cat Movie, Catrifice, Catshock, Catzilla, Pussilla, White Cat of Evil | Tagged | 4 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 022: THE ITALIAN JOB

CAT OF THE DAY 022: THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)

Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) and Camp Freddie (Tony Beckley) need to enlist computer expert Professor Peach (Benny Hill) if they are to pull off their cunning plan to nick a consignment of gold from Fiat in Turin.

But first they have to go through Peach’s sister (the splendid Irene Handl). And her cats.

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CAT OF THE DAY 021: THE SPECIALIST

CAT OF THE DAY 021: THE SPECIALIST (1994)

In this massively entertaining load of old tosh, Sylvester Stallone plays Ray Quick, a gentler, kinder kind of ex-CIA bomber who as early as the opening credits is already demonstrating his sensitive side by adopting a stray cat, which he calls “Timer”.

While Ray is busy whipping up a needlessly elaborate device to blow up one of his hammy co-stars (James Woods, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger, Sharon Stone), Timer proves he’s not just a CATPANION but a CATAPHOR by pouncing on a mouse. Yes, this bomb business is… wait for it… a Cat and Mouse Game.

Ray lives in such a vast hangar-like industrial space on a Miami waterfront, you can’t help wondering how none of the people who have been looking for him all the way through the film have spotted that he’s there. Anyhow, he has rigged it explode. As you do. Cat lovers will appreciate that during the pyrotechnic finale, in which lots of big explosions are going off all over the place, director Luis Llosa takes the trouble to show Timer disappearing safely down an escape hatch.

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CAT OF THE DAY 020: SCARY MOVIE 2

CAT OF THE DAY 020: SCARY MOVIE 2 (2001)

College student Cindy (Anna Faris) and her friends are spending the night at Hell House. Cindy is attacked by a black cat, and screams “Help! My pussy has gone crazy!”

The cat (which is replaced by a non-realistic cat puppet) starts off attacking Cindy with teeth and claws, but then switches to a broken bottle, breaks a chair over her head, and kicks her in the groin. The fight turns into a parody of Jake LaMotta vs Sugar Ray Robinson in Raging Bull, complete with super slo-mo punching, and Cindy is finally knocked out.

Anna Faris is game for anything, and a class act, as always.

But none of this is as funny as it sounds.

Posted in Black Cat, Catzilla | Tagged | 2 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 019: THE LONG GOODBYE

CAT OF THE DAY 019: THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)

Robert Altman’s revisionist update of Raymond Chandler‘s private eye story is a major cat movie; the entire opening sequence depicts Marlowe (Elliott Gould) being woken up by his cat, preparing food for his cat, and then, when it refuses to eat the food, going out to the convenience store to buy more.

This is a fine bit of Method acting by the cat. Note the entirely authentic way it tramples all over the sleeping Marlowe, miaows non-stop till it gets what it wants, and then decides it doesn’t want it anyway, no, it wants that other stuff.

Alas, the convenience store doesn’t stock the cat’s preferred brand, leading to the following exchange:

Convenience Store Guy: “We’re all out. Why don’t you get this? All this shit is the same.”

Marlowe: “Oh yeah? You don’t happen to have a cat by any chance?”

Convenience Store Guy: “What do I need a cat for? I got a girl.”

Marlowe (walking away): “Ha ha. He’s got a girl, and I got a cat.”

Marlowe tries to fool his cat by decanting another brand of cat food into an empty tin of the preferred brand, and thence into the cat’s dish. Needless to say, the cat is not fooled, and promptly exits the film via El Porto del Gato.

BIG SPOILERS AFTER THE PIC!

BIG SPOILERS!

The cat, though long absent, nevertheless provides the film with its punchline. The chivalrous, honourable, principled Marlowe – a man out of his time – has finally caught up with Terry Lennox, the missing friend he has been protecting all the way through the film, only to find Lennox has been lying to him all along, is guilty of murder, and is now free to go and live with his fabulously wealthy mistress.

Lennox: “What the hell, nobody cares.”

Marlowe: “Yeah. Nobody cares but me.”

Lennox: “Well, that’s you Marlowe. You’ll never learn, you’re a born loser.”

Marlowe says “Yeah. I even lost my cat.” And shoots Lennox dead.

Posted in A Major Cat Movie, Cataphor, Catguffin, Catpanion, Ginger Puss | Tagged | 3 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 018: TALES OF TERROR

CAT OF THE DAY 018: TALES OF TERROR (1962)

A trilogy of Edgar Allan Poe stories adapted for the screen by Richard Matheson and directed by Roger Corman.

Vincent Price, who stars in all three segments, is 1) stalked by his dead wife (Morella), 2) bricked up a cellar by cuckolded dipsomaniac Peter Lorre (in a a comic conflation of The Cask of Amontillado and The Black Cat), and finally 3) dissolves into a puddle of “oozing liquid putrescence” (The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar).

While perusing a film magazine at the age of eight, I came across a still photograph of Price melting in that last segment, and decided it was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. And yet also the most deliciously fascinating. Here he is with Basil Rathbone:

This, I believe, is the film for which the cats in these photographs were auditioning.

black-cat-auditions-hollywood-1961-16 2

For more Vincent Price and cats, see also: CAT OF THE DAY 003

Posted in Black Cat, Catscallion, Catshock | Tagged | 4 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 017: LA PEAU DOUCE

CAT OF THE DAY 017: LA PEAU DOUCE (aka THE SOFT SKIN) (1964)

Jean Desailly plays Pierre, a married man of letters who embarks on a furtive affair with Nicole, an air hostess (played by Françoise Dorléac, sister of Catherine Deneuve). At a country motel, he puts their breakfast tray outside their room and closes the door, no doubt prepped for another round of extra-marital rumpy-pumpy.

A decade later, director François Truffaut recreated this scene in his movie about movie-making, La nuit américaine (aka Day for Night). Naturally, the kitty refuses to perform on cue.

It was in 1965, after seeing Dorléac as the femme fatale in Where the Spies Are (starring David Niven as a dapper MI5 recruit) that I developed a massive girlcrush on her. Tragically, she died in a car crash near Nice Airport in 1967. But watch her in this, or in Cul-de-Sac, or in Les demoiselles de Rochefort (singing and dancing with her sister), or in Billion Dollar Brain, and I guarantee you too will fall in love.

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CAT OF THE DAY 016: BRIGHT STAR

CAT OF THE DAY 018: BRIGHT STAR (2009)

The cat’s name, in real life as in the film, is Topper. The perfect CATPANION for Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) as she pines for the absent John Keats.

I think Topper might have the loudest purr in the movies.

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CAT OF THE DAY 015: THE FLY

CAT OF THE DAY 015: THE FLY (1958)

Mad Scientist: “The first live experiment was disastrous. Dandilo.”

Concerned Wife: “Dandilo! Andre, how could you?”

Mad Scientist: “She disintegrated perfectly, but never reappeared. I don’t know why, even now. I redesigned the projecting device, and now it’s perfect.”

Concerned Wife: “Where’s she gone?”

Mad Scientist: “Into space? A stream of cat-atoms?”

But of course, the Mad Scientist will pay (“Help me! Help meeeeeee!”) for having reduced the poor cat to a state of disembodied miaowing. Vaya con dios, Dandilo.

Posted in Catrifice, White Cat | Tagged | 4 Comments

CAT OF THE DAY 014: THIS GUN FOR HIRE

CAT OF THE DAY 014: THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942)

In Frank Tuttle’s film of Graham Greene’s A Gun for Sale, Alan Ladd plays Philip Raven, a stone-cold contract killer with a weakness for kittens. He lets this one into his bedsit, pets it and gives it a saucer of milk.

A little later on, he and Veronica Lake (playing a nightclub chanteuse who has been spying on the bloke who set Ladd up) are in hiding with another kitten. KITTY SPOILERS after the picture!

Something very sad happens to this cat, making it a CATRIFICE.

The first kitten features in Greene’s book, but his description of it is strange and imprecise; one might think he had never even seen or heard a cat. And how many people call them “bitches”? Most odd.

The kitten came him, making little rushes along the pipe, feinting at his hand. ‘You little bitch,’ he said, ‘you little bitch.’ He took a small twopenny carton of cream out of his overcoat pocket and spilt it in his soap-dish. She stopped playing and rushed at him with a tiny cry. He picked her up by the scruff and put her on top of his chest of drawers with the cream. She wriggled from his hand, she was no larger than the rat he’d trained in the home, but softer. He scratched her behind the ear and she struck back at him in a preoccupied way. Her tongue quivered on the surface of the milk.

Of course, there’s an even more famous Graham Greene cat in an even more celebrated Graham Greene film, the feline aspects of which I examine in depth here.

Posted in Catpanion, Catrifice, Kitten | Tagged | 1 Comment