Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rare Flix: The Shadow of the Cat

It took a 2014 Episode of a Show that has been running since 1974 to see a film made in 1964.  Today's film is the not-quite-Hammer film The Shadow of the Cat.  My Saturday night tradition has now become a regular viewing of Svengoolie's show in Syndication on a Channel called ME-TV.  He shows some Classics and some stinkers, but always with a slew of bad jokes.  The Show is older than me and the films are even older- so what?  While he mostly sticks to Classics like the Universal ones, some obscure stuff slips in there.  About a Month ago, he ran this film and I took note.  I eventually got around to, you know, doing something about that.  The film is a Murder Mystery built around some classic tropes- lots of money in a Will, devious In-Laws and an ineffectual Police.  When they are no good, who will solve the crime?  The answer- a housecat!  To see what Frogs done with more subtlety and better direction looks like, read on...
An old woman is killed in her house and there is only one witness: the cat!
The killers are wary of someone finding out their crime, but also wary that they won't get their cut of the old lady's inheritance.  Guess which concern is more pressing.
The cat lingers about, leading one of the men to chase it so strenuously that he gives himself a heart attack!

I thought cats were supposed to help lower stress!
Later on, one of the other conspirators chases the cat into the adjacent Swamp (which all British Manors have) and...manages to get himself stuck in the bog and dies.  2-0 for the cat!
It wouldn't be a proper Mystery if the two Leads didn't wander around the place looking for clues.  Don't worry- the cat finds them.
The heirs continue to scheme against each other as the days go on.  One of them leaves the window open for the cat to finish the job...somehow.
The only bad guy left gets more desperate as clues about what he and his fellow villains did start to be revealed.  He must kill.  the.  cat!
Naturally, the dumb-ass falls for an obvious trick and then...falls to his death.
In the aftermath, the body is discovered and the proper will is revealed.  A new family shows up at the Manor and talks of money...but the cat is watching.  The End.
It is a bit dated and a bit silly, but I still liked it.  What makes the film work for me is the air of a Classic Murder Mystery...but also the silliness of the all-knowing cat.  They never go too far with it- like having it set traps or anything- so it kind of works.  They treat it seriously as well, which is another nice touch.  The film has a strange place in Film History as well as it is a Hammer film, but also not really.  It's complicated.  On normal parameters, the film is shot well, acted fine and looks nice.  It would be nice to see this forgotten little film get some real love with a proper Digital Remastering and/or Blu-Ray release.  I could list a few films that are on Blu-Ray that are much worse for comparison- so I will.  Godzilla vs. Megalon.  Psycho III.  Hell of the Living Dead.  Anaconda (returning to Theaters via Rifftrax in October).  Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (really!)Meanwhile, I'm watching this film on a Streaming Site since there is no DVD release (that I know of).  Wow.  Just wow.  Anyhow, do yourself a favor and check this one out if you like films of its ilk.  It is a bit different, but that isn't always a bad thing.  This may look like a trap, but just trust me...
Next up, another dash of Rare Flix.  When you Remake films in The Phillipines, things get a little strange.  Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment