Follow by Email

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Cat From Outer Space (1978)


You're probably asking yourself "Why on Earth is he reviewing a Disney movie about a cat?". I can assure you that your question is also your answer. I mean come on, it's about a talking cat from outer space who can fly in a spaceship and only cost me 99 cents at Goodwill- can you really blame me? The entire internet is essentially propped up by pictures of babies and cats, so just consider this as me doing my bit to shore it all up, okay?

Plot Synopsis: Spacefaring feline Jake makes an emergency landing on our planet and has only a few days to fix his ship (which by the way must be done with $120,000 worth of gold) or he'll be stuck here forever. Enlisting the help of oddball scientist Frank, His girlfriend Liz, and Frank's beer/sportsloving neighbor/colleague, considerable amounts of human/feline shenanigans commence forthwith. 

I know what you're thinking here, it's a kids movie, how complex can it get? Well not very but what's important here is how very unlike a modern movie for kids this thing turns out to be by the end. It even has doses of anti establishment lessons for your children. You think I'm kidding, right? The military (who of course take possession of Jake's craft with the gusto only they could manage- because it could be the RUSSIANS!) and a bunch of bumbling idiots who are the butt of many of the film's jokes. It might very well be intended as an extremely light hearted send-up of cold war paranoia, or maybe I'm just reading between the lines a little way way too much too much.

There's a goodly amount of jokes you really cannot put into a movie for kids anymore peppered throughout this thing. These include the neighbor /colleague who bitches about his wife wanting to watch something other than sports so he decides to watch it at our main character's house and continually drink his beers. When is the last time you saw a guy chugging brews while watching the game in a Disney flick? Did I just hear you say "Never"? This eventually leads us to Jake's need for 120K in gold. His collar lights up and lets him control anything and everything in his sight, so they decide to have the cat make the team they bet on win the games while they place bets with the local scumbag bookie. I should also mention Jake making a reference to being cooped up in a spaceship for five months after meeting Liz's cat Lucybelle. Yes, a feline sexual innuendo. What more can you ask for?

Yeah, you read that right. After a shenanigan involving Liz calling a vet friend over while Jake pretends to be sick to get Frank out of yet another date so they can fix his ship (and leaving him knocked out cold, unable to manipulate anymore games via the television), they take the next logical step- go directly to the bookie's scummy (and assumedly mob connected) pool hall. Jake eventually wakes up from his sedation and successfully manipulates the game, but yeah seriously- this is a movie for kids ala 1978?

Oh, I forgot to mention something: During all these escapades Jake & co. are routinely (both in regularity and ineptitude) spied on by Roddy McDowall, easily the most bumbling agent a movie of this caliber can muster. A movie like this simply cannot exist with a bumbling, shenanigan causing fool and McDowall doesn't disappoint, nose smashed up against windows in awe of what he witnesses and all.

The thing that surprises me the most about this movie is the surprisingly action packed climax where Jake and Frank chase down a helicopter (containing Liz and Lucybelle) in a biplane that Jake repairs with his collar. There's some really good stunt work in this sequence, involving stunt people hanging on between the plane's upper wing and a helicopter skid and even the helicopter bouncing its skids off the top wing which is a really dangerous and skills needed stunt just like in the film Capricorn One that came out only one week before this film did! It was a pretty ambitious stunt for a film with a 5 Million dollar budget, but for a Disney film with a budget undoubtedly a good deal lower it's a pretty impressive undertaking to say the least. I mean Disney stopped just shy of skid/wing contact but they were like inches away from each other, so you have to give them credit for doing it. Oh, and the biplace has a bunch of its fabric paneling missing leaving the frame exposed, talk about causing a lot of drag- that plane must have been a complete bitch to fly.

All this and a film score by Lalo Schifrin. It has a pretty long running time too, clocking in at 103 minutes. If this were made (or I shudder to think RE made) today , it would likely be both way shorter and probably mostly CGI if not completely animated. That in my opinion would take out a good dose of the fun this movie has by the bucketful. Not bad for 99 cents at Goodwill, if I do say so myself. It's nice to take a break from reviewing total bullshit/horror/exploitation/etcetera movies once in a while, and fuck it I like cats, so I call that a win/win scenario all around.

Go on, give it a go!