When I saw the movie poster of ‘Cat’s Eye’ (1985) on Amazon prime, I was at first hesitant to watch it because it showed the stereotypical association of the cat as a witch’s familiar or something to that nature of foregone horror repertoire. But perhaps I was more afraid of what I would see and reconcile to the stereotype that the cat could not be the dog. Despite all of the phantasmagorial display of the flights of thought, the cat of the poster’s uncanny resemblance to my seven-month-old tabby Toro won me over the resistance. I rented it for Saturday Afternoon Home Cinema with the expectation which was akin to curious Alice in Wonderland. Be it ever magical or bewitching in a softly purring way, the result is one big wonder conflated with doses of warmth and mirth, whimsically betraying the genre classification as horror and the writer’s Craft of Gothic Fantasy like you never knew.
‘Cat’s Eye’ is a threefold anthology film based on Stephen King’s short stories, the first two from his “Night Shift.” King wrote the last story, especially for the movie. It tells a story of a traveling cat who comes upon three separate incidents during his search of the mission to save a life from danger, as annunciated by a spectral girl. In the first two stories, in which the cat takes an incidental role of witnessing human frailty and duality of evil and good, he goes by the names of “The Kitty” and “Sebastian,” showing the characters of the name doners per se. And who says that the cat is a harbinger of destruction as witch’s familiar? He is the judge of the character as if taking in the sun God Ra’s appearance, who was said to be meowing during what he was doing, representing the sun’s benefits for life on Earth in the Book of the Dead. Kitty and Sebastian do not directly intervene in the characters’ fates in the first two stories. It is the third story in which the cat takes charge of the narrative as the main actor with the name “General” on the stage.
Stephen King is known for his excellent story-telling skills combined with supernatural and psychological elements of lonely and misunderstood characters with wounded hearts dealing with their enemies in extraordinary situations. In the tradition of Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ernest Hemingway, King’s narratives are always free from a baroque figure of speech with florid adjectives and complex sentences that flaunt the ego of an unapproachable writer on the mighty throne of English Literature. That is why King’s stories are attractive and widely acclaimed because they deal with the ordinary lives that are not ordinary when seen in close-up. That alchemical ingredient gleams through this movie, showing how our lives are vicariously interrelated, weaved by multiple strands of contemporary life that we all live now through the cat’s eye. Herodotus, the father of western narrative history, knew the connectedness of separate human lives and combined them into one vast story of humanity employing parataxis, individual narrative accounts’ integrity. King’s “Cat’s Eye” follows Herodotus’s narrative trail.
The movie’s real star that brought the fiction into reality is undoubtedly the tabby, whose performance is so wonderfully natural and deeply impressive that it eclipses the human cast’s performance. And yet, there is no credit for the feline star without his real name and a shred of information. He is now long gone, but then I see my tabby Toro at home and wonder if the actor cat might have been his great-grandfather because of the striking physical resemblance and reflective demeanor. But then I think anyone who has a tabby may be delighted to feel that way because otherwise, King might not have written for this film charmingly, which is unusually lovely with high paws.