Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cat and the Canary, The (1977)

Directed by:
Radley Metzger

Not bad old-fashioned comic chiller set at Glencliffe Manor on a dark and stormy night where potential heirs to a fortune gather for the reading of a will (which has been filmed, giving Wilfred Hyde-White a delightful cameo... "Good evening, leeches!"). Annabelle (Carol Lynley) ends up inheriting everything, but as one greedy character puts it, "Where there's a will there's a way." Meanwhile, "The Cat," a deformed killer in a slouched black hat and trench coat has just escaped from an asylum and is lurking the grounds, using secret passageways to stalk characters in the mansion. Surprisingly restrained for director Metzger, a top "adults only" director who later switched to porn (as "Harry Paris"). It’s so tame that when a guy is shot three times there's no blood, but the excellent cast (Michael Callan, Honor Blackman, Daniel Massey, Olivia Hussey, Peter McEnery, Wendy Hiller, Edward Fox...) are more than worth their weight in grue if you ask me. The same story (based on a John Hillard novel) was told in a classic 1927 silent version and again in 1939 (with Bob Hope). This version is inferior to both of those (and wasn't released until 1979) but it's still pretty entertaining.


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