Oh, Homo sapiens…just how stupid can you be?
Strange how tunnel-visioned people can be sometimes. No-one has any difficulty interpreting the horse-head scene in The Godfather; yet when their cat leaves a mouse’s head on the mat, they insist on calling it “a gift”. They hear all about missing persons cases, but never stop to wonder why their dog keeps digging holes in the garden.
You keep your friends close, they say, and your enemies even closer: a statement that has somehow come to encompass inviting those enemies into your house, running from shop to shop to find “their favourite”, sharing your bed with them, and going walkies in all weathers; all the while gushing about “unconditional love”.
Well, enough! This month, the B-Masters are making it their mission to expose these cuddly infiltrators – these adorable assassins – these killers in our midst who think they can get away with murder just because of their big eyes and their cold nose and their little whiskers and—and—aww, who’s a little sweetie? you’re a little sweetie, aren’t you? oh yes you are, you are! what, you want me to stand at the top of the staircase? okay, but I don’t see what y…………
|1000 Misspent Hours and Counting||Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell||Oddly enough, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell started life as a sequel to an episode of “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” In “The Devil’s Platform,” the monster of the week was a shady politician whose pact with Satan gave him, among other things, the ability to transform into an invulnerable German shepherd. The episode ended with the talisman embodying the pact destroyed, and the politician permanently trapped in canine form. The makers of Devil Dog originally wanted to continue that story as a spinoff telefilm, but rights issues tripped them up. I don’t know which part of that delights me more— that somebody thought audiences were yearning to see the further adventures of Tom Skerrit, Demon Pooch, or that somebody else was sufficiently concerned about the integrity of “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” to stop them.|
|Braineater||Kat (2001)||The key to the whole situation is…Athena: the cat is more than just a cat. Her presence in the upstairs room formed a link between the séance and Maria downstairs, rendering the old man’s protection useless. For cats are often very well aware of the emotional state of their close human friends, even if they don’t display their awareness as demonstratively as, say, dogs do. It’s true that Maria herself isn’t particularly attached to her cat, any more than she’s attached to Isabella or Henrik — she’s a sort of emotional dishrag who doesn’t seem to form close attachments to anybody or anything (or for that matter, inspire them, as we’ll see before the movie is over). But that makes no difference to a cat. A cat will form a very strong attachment to whomever it chooses…and in this case, it’s Athena’s attachment to Maria that has drawn the attention of Bartzabel like a lightning rod.|
|And You Call Yourself A Scientist!||Alligator (1980)||Alligator could easily have been nothing more than a compendium of clichés – oh, hell, it is a compendium of clichés, from the cop whose partners keep dying, to SCIENCE!! as the Bad Guy, to the monster that somehow knows exactly who was responsible for its creation – but such is the sureness of touch behind the camera that instead it comes across as an affectionate tribute to the classic monster movies of the fifties – albeit one high on bloodshed and body parts – with the threatened elbow in the ribs held steadily in check and reduced to a mere flicker of the eyelid.|
|And You Call Yourself A Scientist!||Uninvited (1988)||Uninvited is best appreciated if we’re clear about its premise from the outset because, trust me, ludicrous as it seems even at this first glance, it becomes exponentially more so as the film goes on. In that opening scene, what the scientists thought they saw on the x-ray was a tumour. In fact, ST618 has inside him an independently living entity, which launches itself from his mouth to commit bloody mayhem whenever the cat gets agitated, before tucking itself away inside again. What’s more, this…thing…which looks rather like a cross between a rat and a gremlin, with a body at least resembling that of a mangy cat (and which is realised via a series of hand-puppets that would make Jim Henson weep), changes size from shot to shot, at some points being at least twice as big as the animal that is supposed to be its host. Nevertheless, it continues to exit and enter the cat without causing it any harm.|
|The Unknown Movies||Man’s Best Friend (1993)||The reason that I am kind of hesitant to propose the genetic manipulation of animals will probably come as no surprise to you. That reason is that over the years I have seen countless B movies involving genetically altered animals that wreck havoc on mankind. If there has been a B movie made about a genetically manipulated animal that is peaceful and kind, I have somehow never heard of it. This leads to the question as to why filmmakers constantly present such altered animals as malevolent. The answer that immediately comes to mind is that it’s easier to depict something as homicidal than one with a fascinating mind. Also, I think many people would prefer the thrill of a movie with blood and guts rather than intelligence. Anyway, I am sure you have guessed that Man’s Best Friend is a movie about a genetically altered animal…|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||The Corpse Grinders (1971)||Aside from Mikels, this is also merely the latest killer cat movie to appear here. (See Strays and Uninvited.) Most of them range from dull to ridiculous, largely because it’s difficult to communicate that a cat is all that dangerous.* I’ve had this assertion called into dispute before, but c’mon. Cujo, that guy you believe could kill you. Mr. Whiskers? Not so much. Scratch the holy hell out of you, sure. Put an eye out, conceivably. Threaten an entire cast? Meh.
Still, the trope is a venerable one, mostly playing off the idea that cats seem inherently insanely capricious and malign (true), not to mention super-intelligent, sly and devious (I have my doubts). Dogs in films seldom are out for revenge, but that’s a fairly common killer cat motivation. They are, with all due deference to frogs, the great schemers of the killer animal genre.