Monday, March 13, 2017

Cat Murkil and the Silks (1976)

          This bizarre juvenile-delinquent melodrama tries to be several different things at once, causing regular instances of narrative whiplash as the picture shifts from a bummer character study to a moralistic cautionary tale to a violent exploitation flick. Yet the whole discombobulated experience is sufficiently lurid and zippy that the movie becomes enjoyable in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. For instance, the casting of fair-haired and slight actor David Kyle in the leading role is perplexing, since he’s about as intimidating as the average math-club nerd. The scene of his character squaring off against a trio of enormous African-American crooks decked out in ’70s pimp regalia—while they hassle teenagers on the grounds of their high school during class hours—can only be described as an unintentional comic highlight. Conversely, the scene during which Kyle’s character presses a gun to a woman’s crotch and then pulls the trigger is so extreme, especially compared to the rest of the film, that it rightly indicates the filmmakers didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Yet Cat Murkil and the Silks isn’t a mess, per se, because the characters behave consistently and the story makes sense. It’s a matter of taste. The folks behind the picture didn’t have any, so nearly every scene tips into self-parody.
          Eddie “Cat” Murkil (Kyle) is part of a teen gang called the Silks in modern-day Los Angeles. He’s a mixed-up kid who worships his older brother, Joey (Steve Bond), a former JD now serving time in jail. Eddie and the Silks are obnoxious small-time crooks whose idea of fun involves breaking into cars, partying with slutty girls, robbing stores, and rumbling with rival gangs. In other words, this movie’s idea of youth-run-wild behavior is laughably old-fashioned. The gist of the piece is that Eddie spins out of control after clashing with Joey, who warns his younger brother against a life of crime. Eddie kills the leader of his gang and usurps the command position, only to lead the Silks into disastrous clashes with a Latino gang. Hangups about sex lead Eddie further astray, because his attempts to make time with Joey’s hot wife culminate in tragedy. By the end of the picture, Eddie has become a full-blown psychopath, so one gets the feeling that the uptight filmmakers meant to portray youthful irreverence as the gateway drug for ultraviolent anarchy. Social-problem stridency combined with overwrought music and terrible acting—always good fodder for camp.

Cat Murkil and the Silks: FUNKY

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...


- Sounds like this was made in 1956, rather than '76. No doubt, though, that many would be terrified of a gang named The Silks, more so if the leader was called 'Eddie The Cat'.