The Uncanny (1977)
By: Michael Helms on May 20, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
MRA (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3. English 2.0. 85 minutes
The Movie
Director: Dennis Heroux
Starring:Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood, Susan Penhaligon, Chloe Franks, Donald Pleasence, Samantha
Eggar, John Vernon
Screenplay: Michel Parry
Country: Canada/UK
AKA: Claws
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.

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 model plane.

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.
Extra Features
The Verdict
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.
Movie Score
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