Picks and Pans Review: Cat's Eye

updated 05/06/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/06/1985 01:00AM

Creepshow and Cujo had their moments but not since Carrie has a film based on Stephen King material been so consistently witty and deliciously evil-spirited. It's a set of three King tales, two adapted from his 1978 book Night Shift and the third written for this movie. One involves a stop-smoking clinic run by gangsters, using mob tactics such as threatening the spouses of clients who backslide. Comedian Alan King adopts a marvelous all-business attitude as the clinic's boss, while James (Against All Odds) Woods gets to show his sense of humor as a would-be quitter. The second story pits Kenneth (Ragtime) McMillan as a sadistic mob boss against Robert (Airplane) Hays, playing an aging tennis pro who has stolen McMillan's wife. McMillan offers to spare Hays if he can walk around a narrow ledge outside a high-rise penthouse and that sets up a suspense story worthy of Poe, Hitchcock or Serling. In the final segment Drew (Firestarter) Barrymore is a little girl having bad dreams about a malicious creature who comes out of her bedroom wall. The creature, resembling what the offspring of Ernest Borgnine and one of the Gremlins might look like, wants to steal Barrymore's breath but he has to fight his way past a stray cat. Director Lewis (Cujo) Teague and King, who did the screenplay, make every frame count; they can be forgiven for all the inside jokes, such as the frothing Saint Bernard a la Cujo that chases the cat during the opening credits. The movie isn't for children: The Barrymore sequence is nightmare fodder, for one thing. But for those who like to have their funnybones tickled and chilled at the same time, this film is the perfect way to go about it. (PG-13)

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