Monday, January 2, 2017

The Night of the Cat (1973)



Only the hardiest of bad-movie fans will be able to endure all 77 minutes of The Night of the Cat, a crime thriller made on the cheap by director Jim Cinque, whose film career began and ended with this misbegotten project. Filmed with the incompetence of someone who just took a new camera out of the box and flipped it on without reading the instructions, the picture tells the sleazy story of a pretty girl who tracks down the mobster responsible for her sister’s death. He’s a scumbag who kidnaps young women, gets them hooked on dope, and turns them out as prostitutes. Somehow, the protagonist’s sister escaped and was on her way to tell authorities about the mobster’s operation until his goons ran her down on a country road. Enter Beth (Kathy Allen), who dyes her hair black, joins forces with a reporter, and takes karate lessons as part of an elaborate revenge scheme. The title refers to one of the film’s many ridiculous scenes, specifically the bit when locals tell Beth that the mobster has a phobia about cats, meaning he’s been known to pass out at the sight of a tabby. Suffice to say that Cinque ain’t exactly Hitchock when it comes to integrating psychological flaws into his characterizations and storytelling. In fact, Cinque is so inept that after the sister dies, he cuts to a montage of Beth and her sibling cavorting in slow motion through a playground, as full-grown adults, culminating with the sister saying, “Oh, Beth, isn’t it good to be alive?” Because, you see, she’s dead, and that’s like, you know, sad! Just wow. The acting is excruciatingly bad, with unskilled performers struggling through lifeless dialogue; Cinque’s idea of a usable final take is everybody else’s idea of a bad first run-through. Oh, and just to add a scummy patina to the whole project, Cinque seemingly recruited every exotic dancer in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the picture was filmed, because the bad guy’s HQ has a steady supply of strippers and topless waitresses.

The Night of the Cat: SQUARE

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