Wilbur Gray, a horror writer, has stumbled upon a terrible secret, that cats are supernatural creatures who really call the shots. In a desperate attempt to get others to believe him, Wilbur spews three tales of feline horror.
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Wilbur Gray visits Frank Richards so he can get his book published. This book Gray has written are about cats. Cats watching everyone and controlling everything. He mentions the stories in the book are all true, and gives three examples. The first involves the murder of a cat-loving old woman who gives her entire fortune in her will to her cats. Not everyone is happy about the wills, but would have to get past the cats to get the the will. The second story is a tale of black magic between two girls and the third story is a tale of murderous revenge... by a cat. Written by
Well. Hmm. "The Uncanny" is another one of Milton "Amicus" Subotsky's anthology horrors, with a premise that at least has some form of interest and introduction (unlike, say, "Vault of Horror", in which Terry-Thomas prompts random people stuck in a lift with him to talk about their dreams - "Why don't you tell us about it?"). Basically, a rather nervous Peter Cushing visits a publisher to talk about his latest book proposal which will apparently deliver a very important message to us all - "Cats have been exploiting human beings for centuries!" Yes, Cushing believes that cats are going to take over and kill us all. No, really.
"The Uncanny" isn't a bad film per-se, it's just a bit lacking somehow. Maybe it's the fact that it only has three stories (the other Amicus ones tend to have four or five) and so each little tale seems far more drawn out than it really needs to be. It's also very varied in tone, and doesn't seem to completely know what it's really doing. Once it's finished you don't really sit back and think "That was rather good," nor "That was bloody dire." You just realise that 85 minutes of your life has gone by (or 105 minutes if you had a rather nice and loving phone call part way through - hurrah! But enough about my life...).
The first story concerns Joan Greenwood deciding to leave all the money in her will to her many cats rather than her nephew. Fortunately for him, Greenwood's maid also happens to be his girlfriend, and she's more than willing to get into her mistress's safe and destroy the copy of the will. However, when she's discovered, she has to do something rather unpleasant (the most disturbing part of the film for me, and the cats had nothing to do with it) and then faces the consequences via a long (a very, *very* long) spot of kitty revenge. Though it's horrendously padded (complete with a flashback to, bizarrely, an alternative take of an earlier scene), it does at least make the cats rather terrifying, which is something. There are actually quite a few repulsive moments in it, and there's far more horror in this segment alone than during the whole of, for instance, "Vampire Circus."
Cushing's publisher seems unimpressed however and decides to put his cat out instead. Cushing regales him with another story, furtively scratching around in his big folder of official looking documents. "Ah yes, Lucy..."
Second story has very little horror in it aside from some rather ghastly accents that appear to contain traces of RP English, Canadian and various bits of American. There's also a little snot of a girl who finds it amusing to taunt her cousin about the fact that her parents died in a plane crash (chases her with a toy plane, "Your don't have any parents! You don't have anybody! Ha ha ha!" - you know the type). Unfortunately for the spiteful little cow, her placid looking cousin has more to her than meets the eye. The only thing remarkable about this segment is the staggering ineptness of her aunt and uncle of looking after her, which includes burning almost all of her possessions (including a photograph of her with her mother)! Good grief! No wonder the poor little soul has issues. Oh, and there is a cat in it, but it doesn't do a lot, and seems pretty amiable really.
Third story stars Donald Pleasence as a creepy little git, and is introduced by Cushing handing his publisher a stock photo from "You Only Live Twice" (Pleasence as Blofeld holding his fluffy white cat), which will probably amuse somebody. Cushing's now gone into nervous overdrive, wringing his hands and exclaiming "It was the cat that did it!" A story set in 1930s Hollywood in which real devices of medieval torture are used on the actors (with the hilarious, yet seriously-delivered, "explanation" from a detective that goes "Well sir, there seems to have been a little mix up in your props department..."), it's all rather dull with yet more dodgy accents and, at one point, some misplaced slapstick and comedy music. Pleasence's character (who likes to swap puns before sex) goes to great lengths to attempt to kill his recently-deceased wife's cat (having flushed its kittens down the toilet - bastard), which, in return, goes to great lengths to make things difficult for him. "What's wrong? Cat got your tongue? Ha ha ha... oh."
And after all this, what have we learnt? Well, you'll have to watch it and find out. Or better yet, don't bother and watch something actually halfway decent. Not even fun in a sort of "So bad it's good," way, "The Uncanny" is a dull, listless and at times thoroughly unpleasant little film that is best avoided - and Cushing's only in it for about 10 minutes, so it's not even worth watching for him. Best avoided, really.
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