This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Uncanny (REVISITED)

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT!

Writer Wilbur Gray visits his publisher to try and sell him the idea for his new book to him. A book that reveals the true terrifying nature of cats. To do so, he tells three tales of feline terror.



The Uncanny is a 1977 The Rank Organisation production. It stars Peter Cushing, Ray Milland and Samantha Eggar. It was directed by Denis Heroux.

Peter Cushing's Wilbur Gray doesn't seem to have a good relationship with cats. They don't like him and he's shit scared of them. This is all because Wilbur has knowledge, knowledge that (if it got out) would change the world for ever.

He arrives at his publisher's house and is left uneasy as he discovers he has a cat, so the cat is present for the whole time Wilbur is telling his three tales.



STORY 1

1912, a rich old woman dies and leaves all her earthly possessions to her huge collection of cats. The servant girl (Janet) seizes the opportunity to steal the will for her own personal gain. But the cats have other plans.

Nice bit of foreshadowing from the old woman. “That girl will be the death of me one day, I'm sure of it.”

The old woman missed out her nephew from the will (because I think he's a bit of a dick). But he's knocking about with Janet, so the plan is for her to steal and destroy the other copy of the will hidden in the old woman's safe, so that he gets all the money and Janet gets to be married to a “very, very rich man”.

Just when all seemed to be going well, she'd opened the safe and had hold of the will. Then a cat jumped on the bed and woke up the old woman who startled Janet making her drop the will on the floor. Before she was able to alert anyone to what Janet had done, Janet suffocated her with a pillow. But the cats were watching the whole thing. Believing her to be dead, Janet stopped pressing down on the pillow and turned around facing the other way. What she didn't see was the old woman had survived, oh wait no she didn't. I mean what the fuck? She clearly survived suffocation as she was able to sit up and grab Janet's shoulder but then she suddenly just passed out and died. Surely if she survived the suffocation then she should still have been alive after sitting up. So what the fuck killed her?!

When the old woman startled Janet she dropped the will on the floor so all she has to do is pick it up. Easy. Or is it? Every time she goes to pick it up off the floor a cat's paw comes from off screen and claws her hand. It just looks so funny though, it happens several times. Oh how I laughed. And to think I was terrified of this years ago.

AH! CATS! They all start pouncing on her and clawing through her clothes and her skin. So she takes refuge in the pantry. She spends several days in there, surviving on scraps of food and a jar of brown stuff that doesn't look too appetising, even she borks when she eats it.

These cats are fiendishly clever. They're like the Cravendale Cats with opposable thumbs, but minus the opposable thumbs. They rip open the post (or Mail for my American readers) that comes through the letterbox.

I'm assuming the brown stuff must have pushed her beyond her limits because not long after eating that she takes her chances amongst the cats, armed with only a bread knife she tries to get the will one last time. AH! The cats have been eating the old woman in order to survive. Then they kill Janet, she didn't stand a chance against man-eating cats. The old woman's nephew then comes to the house with the police (because there's been no reply at the house for days) only to find Janet dead and his aunty mostly eaten. Then he tries to get the will and the cats kill him too. They bite him right on the throat.



BACK TO WILBUR

Wilbur gets even more anxious once his publisher lets the cat out and he sees it “talking” to the other cats. Presumably telling them about Wilbur and his knowledge.

STORY 2

Lucy's parents died in an accident and now she has to live with her aunt and uncle and their daughter Angela. She's been allowed to keep her cat because it's all she's got, but Angela isn't suited and soon becomes jealous of Lucy having a cat.

Apparently “Cats can talk, it just takes time before you can understand them.” Thanks Lucy.

Wow, Angela is really jealous of Lucy having a cat. Her mother said that Lucy is allowed to have a cat because her Mam and Dad died. So Angela asks “If my Mam and Dad die would I be able to have a cat then?”

Angela continues to try and steal Lucy's cat from her, it seems that if she can't have it then no one can. So she starts doing stuff around the house and blaming it on the cat until eventually her parents take it to get put down. What a bitch.

Angela is such a bitch! At one point she even shouts at Lucy “You haven't got a Mummy! You haven't got a Daddy! You haven't got anybody!” Oh I do wish someone would just use some black magic to shrink her to the size of a mouse and then stand on her. But like that's ever going to happen.

Even though Angela's parents took Wellington (Yes, the cat's called Wellington. Probably should have mentioned this earlier. Nevermind.) to get put down, somehow he must have escaped because on the night he turns up at the house. He even opened a book of witchcraft for Lucy to use. It essentially told her to use it. Bad kitty!

Oh what do you know. Lucy used witchcraft to shrink Angela to the size of a mouse, she let Wellington toy with her a bit then she stood on her with a splat and a crunch.



BACK TO WILBUR

Wilbur continues to be fearful of the cat, now the publisher has let it back in the house after talking to it's cronies and it's just sat there watching him.

STORY 3

1933, the actor Valentine De'ath's (I know, he's called Mr. De'ath. But his initials are also VD) wife is killed during a death scene gone wrong for a film. So he gets his lover to replace her but his late wife's cat has a few bones to pick with him over that.

This tale is about an actor in the 1930s played by Donald Pleasence so why when Wilbur showed his evidence was there a photo of Donald Pleasence as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice? Stupid Cat Movie.

After Valentine's wife is “accidentally” killed by what was meant to be a prop pendulum blade thing, Valentine then recommended his wife's stunt double to replace her, she just so happens to be having an affair with Valentine.

“Oh, VD, I love you.” Yeah I laughed, the awkward pause after she said it added to that too. I wonder if it was intentional.

Fuck! Valentine's late wife's cat gave birth to some kittens, so he flushed them down the toilet. What the fuck? That's horrible! But it's ok, the cat then goes about exacting revenge on VD and his bit on the side. I don't fucking blame it. First of all it tried to kill him at work by chewing through the rope holding up a light which fell and narrowly missed him. VD and his lover have a few failed attempts at killing the cat so they leave out some traps before going to work. But this cat isn't stupid. Another Cravendale Cat.

At work they are rehearsing a death scene where she is killed via a box filled with spikes, but the cat is on hand to lock the safety door of the box so that she is actually killed by the spikes. In a fit of rage VD chases the cat off screen where we hear some screams from the cat. Next day, one of the film's crew members walks on set talking to VD who is sat in his chair. In response to VD not answering him he says “What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?” then he sees the cat dragging a tongue along the floor and that VD is sat in the chair dead with a mouth full of blood.



BACK TO WILBUR

Wilbur's evidence suggests the idea that instead of human's being the masters and cats being the pets it is in fact the other way round. So he wants his book publishing so that he can get his word to the masses in order to warn people about cats and their manipulative ways. After Wilbur leaves, the publisher's cat who has heard the whole conversation stares at him until he eventually burns the evidence and then goes and gets the cat some milk then says “I can't deny you anything can I?” All the while Wilbur is chased by cats until he is eventually attacked by them, falls down some steps and breaks his neck. Poor Wilbur.

Right, The Uncanny. Well, it's ok. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, the idea behind it I quite like. The whole taking something we see as one thing, in this case cats we see them as pets and then flips it on it's head to create this idea of horror that human's aren't the dominant species after all. But the problem there is you would assume this will be a collection of three tales where innocent people are killed by evil cats, but instead it's three tales of evil people getting stopped by the cats or the cats taking revenge on them. So from these three tales I'd say “Yes cats are fiendishly clever, but they're also like vigilantes helping the good people by stopping the bad people. They're like batman.” So the three stories kind of miss the point of the overarching story's theme. It's funny watching this now, because I remember being scared of this as a kid, it left me terrified of my own cat. I specifically remember the first story where the cats eat the old woman and being cautious of my cat for days wondering if it was going to eat me, suffice to say my cat has not eaten me... yet, but she still has time. Clearly the best bit of this film is Peter Cushing as the petrified Wilbur Gray, he's great. Even Donald Pleasence is a bit iffy in this but maybe it was meant to be a bit of an over the top performance, then again maybe he just couldn't be arsed. All in all, it's ok but not great, even if you really like Peter Cushing (LIKE ME!) it's not really worth your time. Peter Cushing is great but the film is just ok.

The Uncanny 2/5

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