The Uncanny (1977)
Milton Subotsky post Amicus film
The Rank Organisation
directed by Denis Héroux
Awesomely creepy music puts you in the mood during the opening credits. In the first scene, Wilbur Gray, (Peter Cushing) looks nervously out his window into the dark alley and shadowed streets. He then leaves his apartment in a rush, carrying a case file. Several felines follow his moves with their eyes and in this short scene feel very ominous.
Gray enters the home of a publisher, Frank Richards (Ray Milland) who has little faith in what he has written. Gray mentions how people believe in alien conspiracies and incidents but with his theory he has proof. The publisher’s cat growls at him, to which he turns to the cat and says, I know everything. He presents case files that would back up his theory that cats are evil and conspiring in tandem to take over the world from humans.
Tale one bloody and gruesome. A Maid and the Nephew of a wealthy old crone attempt to steal the Last Will and Testament that cuts the nephew out of the inheritance and leaves everything to her numerous cats. In the process, the maid winds up killing the wealthy old woman. The cats are not pleased. This turns into the Cujo moment of Catdom. Over a period of many hours the old lady’s cats bludgeon the maid to death. This film was originally given an ‘X’ – rating, presumably because of the violence in this segment.
The second story about a young girl, Lucy, orphaned that goes to her aunt and uncles stately home to live. The aunt is immediately detest over the girl’s cat. An older cousin bullies Lucy and purposely says hurtful things to her about not having parents. She accuses and blames Lucy for things she did not do. It all plays a little like a 1970’s After School Special, but it gets quite nasty in the end. The aunt has a company whisk away the cat while Lucy sleeps but the cat, Wellington, returns. The cat leads Lucy to a book on witchcraft that belonged to her mother. After reading, Lucy tricks her bully older cousin into stepping into a Pentagon she drew in the garden greenhouse. There she reads a spell that shrinks the girl to a size, no bigger than a mouse. That is where Wellington takes over chasing the girl under the bed in some decent miniatures and back-screen effects. The cat chases the cousin out from under the bed and that is where Lucy puts her foot down on the matter of bullying.
The 3rd story is a campy affair featuring actors from the 1930s. It stars Donald Pleasance as Valentine De’ath, a horror actor and a cat hater who replaces a prop in the movie with the real thing, killing his actress wife. Now his dim-witted actress girlfriend, Edina, can take her place. At first she’s amused by the wife’s cat which Valentine calls “Scat”. Valentine sends off Scat’s newborn kittens to a pest control. Scat is not happy. The cat torments the couple in some random slap-stick antics. Meanwhile, the film ‘Dungeons of Terror’ begins re-filming only to find that Edina is a horrible actress. Attempting to coach her on a scene in the torture dungeon Scat leads Valentine to accidentally kill his new leading lady.
It’s a decent anthology in the Amicus tradition. By 1977 these stories were considered ‘old-hat’ and not very popular with the horror watching youth, but as an adult I can appreciate the old style story-telling aspects of the film. I’d say it’s worth seeing just for the violent and bloody first segment, whose gory style has never been repeated in film (not with cats, anyway).
See all my other Amicus Films and related movie reviews here:
Amicus Films – The Studio that Dripped Blood Overview