Monday, August 14, 2017

Hello Kitty

When the Persian Ed Wood makes a genre film that includes a cat, you don't have to time me to see how quickly it gets added to my Netflix queue. "Long wait" or no, it is mine. 

Quick Plot: Bruce has been spending some time in a mental asylum following the death of his mother, whose home nurse Susan (Sybil Danning) went on to marry his wealthy father Rachid less than a year later. Declared sane (despite an incredibly inappropriate sense of humor that often sends him on fits of maniacal laughter), Bruce returns to his father's mansion to an unhappy Susan and helpful Ezil, the housekeeper whose favorite song is the first two lines of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”

And a cat. Oh yes. A cat.

Samson, you see, was Bruce's loyal little tuxedo. When he went away, Samson declared feline war on Susan, prompting her to exile him but like any darned cat, he returned...the very next day. When Bruce comes home, Samson is eager to impress his master by resuming his battle. 

...which is filmed as this adorable animal actor waves his little paw around while Danning screams bloody murder and someone loops a ferocious hissing. 

It. Is. Wonderful.

Samson is on to something, as Susan has been plotting with her lover/husband's chauffeur Ralph to kill the old man and take his fortune for themselves. Ralph does the deed by forcing Rachid off his yacht in the middle of the ocean, classily giving his boss a choice between death-by-bullet or the slight chance that he can survive in the water and potentially return for a sequel that includes an extended flashback sequence about how he battled sharks and sold his voice to a sea witch.

Okay, I'm getting a little carried away with my zany plotting, but it's not that far off from what actually follows in Cat In a Cage. Spoilers will commence, because honestly, you need to know what goes down.

After Rachid's death, a man wearing a werewolf mask murders Ralph, burying him on the mansion's grounds which Samson rather inconveniently digs up when the police stop by. Later that night, Susan is heavy breathed on to death by the same Bruce-like man who, in the clumsiest exposition ever ADR'd and played over two characters walking on a beach, turns out to be Bruce's violently insane brother Ali, who was hidden in the house for twenty years and taken care of by Ezil (who’s seen trouble). 

This plot point comes up one hour into the movie.

Terrified that the cops will rightfully arrest his murderous secret brother, Bruce grabs Ali, Ezil, and his girlfriend Gilda (played by Yvette herself, Colleen Camp, in a role so thankless that I'm guessing her only payment was the chance to sing the lounge-esque theme song) and embarks on a neverending police chase and shootout. 

If you're like me, you're sitting there on the edge of your seat begging to know the most important question of Cat In the Cage: WHAT HAPPENED TO SAMSON?

How I long to tell you. How I long to know.

See, after Samson uncovers the corpse of Ralph, he simply vanishes from the film, sort of like Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right. Considering he's easily the most interesting character in the film, it's unforgivable. 

I don't mean to suggest that Cat In the Cage would be any better with Samson saving the day or firing the last shot or being revealed to actually be Ali as a shapeshifter. I mean, those twists would make this movie amazing, but still...not good. 

This movie was probably never going to be good.

If the name Tony Zarindast rings a bell, then you just might pronounce the word "werewolf" with a mumbled mouth, for he is indeed the director of that 1995 film wonderfully riffed on in one of the SyFy Channel-era MST3K's best episodes. Zarindast displays the same level of skill here, coaxing wonderfully alien performances from his cast and rolling out his story with the grace of a drunk dad untangling last year's Christmas lights. 

Pretty much everything in this movie is done terribly. Take the score, which for no reason whatsoever, sounds like it should be used to set the scene in The Mummy Theme Park

Side note: Cat In the Cage is, admittedly, a better movie than The Mummy Theme Park. But so is the experimental short my cat shot on my iPhone when his paw landed just right, so it doesn't say much. 

High Points
Well, aside from the gentlest cat attack put onscreen? I love a date montage, and Cat In a Cage gives us not one, but TWO, and both go on just a hair short of Cool As Ice's 12-hour epic

Low Points
Of all the things I could complain about in this movie, what does it say about me that the one that bugs me the most is that the title is so darn misleading? Unless, of course, my theory that Samson is actually Ali holds true, at which point, it's a literal metaphor and it makes this the best movie about a mad man turned into a cat turned back into a mad man ever made

Lessons Learned
It's natural to be quite disturbed over your mother's death

Nothing turns a murderous ex-nurse on more than being slapped

Just because you've named your villain Susan doesn't mean supporting characters can't call her Suzanne


Cat In the Cage is a terrible movie. And if you're here, you probably love terrible movies and will probably have as good a time watching this as you would eating an ice cream sundae. Dig in. 

No comments:

Post a Comment