After trudging through the dreary disaster-of-a-movie known as Death Ship, I had pretty much sworn off all horror movies featuring George Kennedy on a boat. Burn me once, shame on George Kennedy; burn me twice, shame on me, as the old saying goes. But self-imposed rules are made to be broken, and when I saw that the George-Kennedy-on-a-boat movie Uninvited is also a mutant-cat-hell-bent-on-doing-some-murderin’-on-a-boat movie, well, I just couldn’t resist. Throw in the fact that the movie’s director (Greydon Clark, Without Warning, Wacko) had two of his movies (Final Justice, Angels Revenge) featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I was downright excited about watching!
The boat in this story is owned by crooked millionaire Walter Graham (Alex Cord), who, along with his two hired goons, is using it to flee to The Cayman Islands to avoid prosecution by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Playboy that he is, Walter invites a couple of young babes to make the trip, who in turn bring along a newly-found stray cat as well as three newly-found stray bros. It isn’t long before the group realizes there’s something not quite right with the just-escaped-from-a-medical-lab cat and they all begin to wonder how many of them will make it off the ship alive (Spoiler: not many). It’s all done with plenty of silly dialog, plenty of crappy special effects, and plenty of the things that made the 80s both wonderful and terrible – popped
collars, Jams shorts, step-aerobics, the gratuitous use of the word “party” as a verb, and a score that sometimes makes it feel like you’re watching an episode of The Facts of Life. There’s also plenty of George Kennedy (Death Ship, Day of Resurrection, Just Before Dawn, Wacko, Creepshow 2, Demonwarp, Death Street USA, The Terror Within). That, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing and in fact, I think Kennedy has been really good in a number of the roles he’s played, but he’s also been in a fair share of movies he just sort of grumbles his way through, looking to be having a miserable time. Uninvited falls into that latter category. Then again, if I was playing a supporting role to a ratty-looking cat puppet, I may not be inclined to bring my A-game either, so I suppose a sufficient amount of slack should be cut.
Along with being the movie’s undisputed star and delivering its best performance, the cat is also one of the most puzzling killers from any horror movie I’ve seen. It isn’t that the idea of a killer cat is all that far-fetched; anybody who has ever owned one will tell you they’re inherently evil. At least four times a day my cat looks at me as if his only desire in life is to rip my face off with his claws and feast on my still-living flesh while taking great pleasure in watching me die a slow, agonizing death. No, it’s the way this particular cat kills that has me scratching my head. As best as I can tell, it works like this:
- Normal cat does normal cat things.
- Someone pisses off normal cat.
- Pissed-off cat opens mouth, releasing tiny, even more pissed-off, mutant cat that instantly becomes much larger.
- Mutant cat attacks unfortunate victim with claws and poisonous bite.
- Mutant cat becomes tiny again and crawls back into mouth of host cat who resumes doing normal cat things.
Look, suspending belief is a big part of what makes horror movies fun, and it’s an absolute necessity with a Greydon Clark movie, so I’m willing to play along even when the premise gets a little far-fetched. Some lab scientists create a mutated, poisonous cat – alright, I’ll buy that. The cat gets bigger, Incredible-Hulk-style, when someone makes it angry – yep, I’m still here. But that Clark then took the incomprehensibly absurd step of giving those special powers to a tiny cat living inside a normal cat, seems to be unnecessarily pushing things a bit. Add the fact that the killer cat rarely looked the same from one scene to the next, ranging in appearance from a creature resembling an Old World fruit bat, to something more akin to a rabid tree sloth, and the result is a shark-jumping of epic proportions, even by Greydon Clark standards. Having said all that, I loved every single minute and the movie wouldn’t have been half as entertaining with an even slightly-less-strange cat, so maybe Clark did know what he was doing after all.
To anyone familiar with this website, it’s no secret that I love a bad movie as long as it’s the right kind of bad movie. Uninvited is exactly the right kind of bad movie and this review hasn’t even begun to dig into the treats the film has in store for the lover of all things cheesy (including a ton of non-cat-related WTF moments and an odd but funny performance by one of my all-time favorites Clu Gulager). If you are the type who enjoys movie theme nights, you could pair Uninvited with Death Ship for your very own George-Kennedy-on-a-boat double-feature, but I can’t really recommend that. You’d be better off just watching Uninvited twice.
“As near as I can tell, the cat that bit Mr. Harvey is highly poisonous.”