Tagline: They paid for a holiday of a lifetime… with their lives
Director: Greydon Clark
Writer: Greydon Clark
Starring: George Kennedy, Alex Cord, Clu Gulager, Tony Hudson, Eric Larson, Clare Carey, Beau Dremann
In the annals of cinema ‘creature features’ are as old as time.
Looking back, we’ve had some pretty intimidating screen monsters throughout the years. Franchise icons such as Godzilla and King Kong, the kind of monumental beasts who savaged entire cities, and who even showed themselves capable of emotional depth, resulting in some of film’s most interesting and influential instances of catharsis.
Over time, filmmakers would exhaust this once popular sub-genre as moviegoers continued to flock for larger-than-life threats that in many ways reflected real-world events. After ’50s Cold War hysteria brought us giant nuclear spiders, man/fly hybrids and even all-consuming gelatinous blobs, affairs became a little derisory as the tried and tested became a little old hat. That was until Stephen Spielberg gave rise to the summer blockbuster in one of the greatest popcorn flicks of all time.
It was after Jaws that the creature feature experienced something of a renaissance. There were mainstream remakes abound with movies such as The Thing, Revenge of the Body Snatchers and The Blob all inspiring reboots, but the burgeoning video market would make even better use of the formula, introducing us to man-eating piranhas and giant bunny rabbits, as well as Kitsch abominations such as cockroaches, frogs and even slugs. By that stage, one of film’s most successful conceptions had become something of a running joke, and 1988‘s Uninvited is a movie that is very much in that category.
This time, it is the regular household cat that is given the horror treatment, and you could be forgiven for feeling a little nonplussed as the cutest, most indifferent feline this side of Garfield struts around the place and purrs and licks its paws as cameramen pray for a moment of menace that just isn’t forthcoming. Technically, our monster isn’t a cat at all, but a feral creature which crawls out of the said kitty’s mouth whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes the creature in question looks like the back of a headless fox, sometimes it looks like a Jim Henson Muppet dipped in water, and other times it looks like a badly made toupee in desperate need of a comb.
The movie’s plot is simple and preposterous in equal measures. After an experimental subject escapes the clutches of the most useless security team in cinema history, it embarks on an all-out rampage of death and destruction, and for a while it seems to have good intentions, taking vengeance on a couple of no good punks after they beat and rob a good-hearted citizen who takes the time to feed it. Later, it even intercedes during a rape scene, but soon enough it just thinks Fu*k it, and decides to kill everyone, which is all fine and dandy because the cast are a hodgepodge of veritable douchebags ripe for the clawing.
Our primary douche is the movie’s lead antagonist ‘Wall Street’ Walter (Cord), a devious tycoon up to his neck in skulduggery but seemingly inept as the criminal mastermind he boasts of being. After flexing his expositional muscles by bumping off a young associate with too much information, he and his cronies set sail for the Cayman Islands on a luxury yacht that looks like a child’s toy floating in a bathtub for the most part. Problem is, he recently made a lecherous acquaintance with two chicks who are in town for Spring Break, and when they take it upon themselves to arrive with a bunch of jocks, he has no choice but to utilise them as his crew as the cops trail him with a search warrant.
With the cast from Saved by the Bell . . . wait, scratch that . . . California Dreams in charge of a complex sea vessel, nothing can go wrong, right? Well, asides from some truly abortive acting, ambiguous storytelling (did they have the original party or not?), startling exposition and inconsistent special effects, yes, just about everything, particularly when one of the girls decides to pick up a certain stray cat and take it along for the ride.
Before long, the bodies begin to mysteriously pile up, and once convenient plot device and eventual hero Martin (Larson) reveals he is actually a genius biologist, some conveniently stowed lab equipment enables him to spot the genetic inconsistencies in the cat’s blood just in time for the crew to become infected and mutate in a manner that the movie’s minuscule budget allows. Inevitably, social divides begin to form as our lurching toupee begins to attack from every crevice, and as infected single cornflakes become as deadly as cyanide, the laughability stakes truly soar.
Interestingly enough, Uninvited also stars a pre-Naked Gun George Kennedy as Walter’s right hand man, Mike. Kennedy’s straight yet bumbling facade is just as perfect for this movie, which treads a fine line between schlock melodrama and all-out spoof. In fact, it would not surprise me if the Zucker-Abrahams axis saw this movie and immediately said to one another, “Call off the casting session. We’ve found our man!”
Either way, it worked out for him in the end.
When double-crossing douchebag Corey (Estes) cuts a money-spinning deal with the insidious Walter, his first mission is to dispose of the mutant kitty hiding in the bowels of the tycoon’s yacht. Spotting the feline, he draws his pistol and accidentally blows a hole in the pressure tank, a blast of steam frying his skin clean off his face.
Most Absurd Moment
Having escaped on a lifeboat which is clearly being rocked by two off-screen stage hands, resident geek and new love Rachel (Hudson) plan how to spend the million bucks they stumbled upon. Just when they thought they were home and free (asides from the fact that they’re stranded in the middle of the ocean with no food or water in the middle of the night), disaster strikes when our resident toupee begins to attack them from all directions. Luckily, brainiac Martin has a foolproof plan, emptying their loot into a bag and using the now empty suitcase as a raft to cast away their furry tormentor.
Most Absurd Dialogue
After drowning a young business associate in a Jacuzzi, Albert (Gulager) begins to shake and shiver like a man with a high fever—quite an adverse reaction for a henchman whose entire function is surreptitious murder. Noting this, his colleagues inquire about Albert’s welfare.
Walter: ‘Frank, look at Albert. I think he’s gonna be sick.’
Frank: ‘Are you okay, Albert?’
Albert: ‘I’m fine. I’m just out of breath.’
Okay, we’ll give you that one.
Silly, lame and irresistibly second rate, Uninvited is a creature feature squirming in the realms of soap opera melodrama. The question is, is a movie which gives us a rat in a cat in a toupee worth large stretches of breathtaking banality?
The answer is Yes; absolutely it is!