|The Uncanny (1977)
| MRA (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English 2.0. 85 minutes
After the demise of Amicus the British producer
Milton Subotsky had to go offshore to get a production
up. With 70% of the budget coming from Canadian
sources he made this clunky anthology film in
the land of the Great White North. Based on his
own writing, the five story Beware Of The Cat, The Uncanny converts three of
the stories into film form as it attempts to convince
the viewer and the publisher played by Ray Milland,
that cats are the secret rulers of the world.
Peter Cushing is an author who believes he has
irrefutable proof which he's organised into a
manuscript that he wants to sell to Milland. With
this framing story set in present day Montreal
in place, the skittish author sits down in Milland's
lounge room to begin his hustle and to allow for
the telling of the three tales.
|Director: Dennis Heroux
Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood, Susan Penhaligon,
Chloe Franks, Donald Pleasence, Samantha
Eggar, John Vernon
Screenplay: Michel Parry
The first story is set in London just prior to
WW1 and it involves a wealthy woman who is bumped
off by her maid and nephew. Before they can get
their hands on her estate her beloved collection
of several dozen cats step in and menace and torture
the greedy couple. The most revolting scene in
the whole film occurs when actress Susan Penhaligon
has to eat rancid cat food in order to survive.
Story number two takes place in Quebec in 1975
and involves a little girl who is subjected to
secret bullying when she's taken into foster care.
Her pet cat reverses the situation but not before
a scene where she's buzzed by a remote control
The third tale has 1936 Hollywood as its backdrop
as horror film star Valentine De'ath played by
Donald Pleasence, kills the rival of his ambitious
thespian girlfriend (played by The Brood's Samantha
Eggar) in order for her to get a part in his latest
film. The writing is on the wall for Pleasence
though when he also decides to dispose of the
deceased woman's kittens and the mother cat takes
matters into her own paws.
Finally, it all ends for our cat fearing author
in a feline frenzy of fangs and fur when Milland's
pug faced moggie dobs in Cushing for attempting
to blow their cover and all the neighbourhood
cats descend upon as he attempts to walk home.
|Despite some moody and atmospheric shots in the
first and third stories and the wraparound piece,
poor process shots in the second story will jolt
you with the reality of the fact that this film
was done very cheaply. Two cinematographers in the
credits is always a bad sign. A perfunctory transfer
of a less than pristine print doesn't help the situation.
|Although the opportunity was here to create some
truly frightening feline audio I think the sound
department relied too heavily on synthetic cat sounds
as my black cat which always reacts to real moggie
audio slept soundly throughout. You might too.
|There is some surprisingly vicious cat/human interaction
here but mainly it's laughable and this bargain
bin version of this bargain basement film could
only be recommended for fans of John Vernon and
adherents of Canuck horror.