In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bad Cattitude

This week's VHS title is John McPherson's Strays. It was a recent acquisition, but I certainly remember the cover from my Cockbuster days.

Paul & Lindsay Jarrett (Timothy Busfield & Kathleen Quinlan) move into a country house with their daughter, only to find the property is overrun with stray cats.

This movie is ridiculous, and by that I mean, it seems to take place in a universe where logic does not exist. Well, that or the script was written by someone who had never actually encountered a cat in real life.

About halfway through I had the realization that this must have been a TV movie. What tipped me off, in addition to the largely sanitary execution, was the first two-thirds was basically a family drama where felines occasionally sauntered in. It's a decent one, as Busfield & Quinlan are class acts and do what they do very well, but it's not really the b-movie flick the marketing would suggest.

As for the rest, let me break down the absurdity for you. Strays begins with your standard shin-high POV shots establishing our would-be antagonist, then cuts to a nice old lady who is rifling through her cupboards for food for her many cats. After finally finding something in the cellar, she comes back upstairs where the camera promptly rushes at her. Based on her reaction, I was led to assume this must be one gigantic feline, the leader of the glaring (and yes I looked that up), if you will. However, my hopes were soon dashed when we see a rather mean & mangy (though completely normal sized) looking cat take out the phone guy.

And that is it. It is one fucking cat. Sure, there are many others, but they all seem to be mainly just hanging out, mostly taking this dominant male's lead. They're not rabid, they're not genetically engineered (like in Uninvited, the movie from which Strays coincidentally lifted its tagline) and they haven't been exposed to toxic waste. I kept waiting for some sort of extraneous reason for their behaviour, especially when they started clawing their way through solid doors! The best we get is the family vet saying feral cats are not to be messed with. Gee thanks, doc.

Things only get more unbelievable from there. When Lindsay is fighting for her life in the third act, she keeps on fleeing from this normal tomcat like it's the fucking tiger in Burning Bright. She spends an ungodly amount of time trying to fill a ceramic jug with water – due to the vet's earlier statement that cats don't like getting wet – instead of just braining the thing with it. And of course, anytime it lunges on someone, they make like they were tackled by a linebacker.

I can has cheezburger?

Strays certainly gave me a few laughs, but most of them were from its nonsensical plot. After the final battle, I felt like all this silliness was intentional, but it certainly wasn't portrayed that way from the get go. Overall, it's just rather perplexing.

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