18 June 2024
The Uncanny (1977)
87 min.
Directed by Denis Héroux.
With Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Samantha Eggar, Donald Pleasence, Susan Penhaligon, Joan Greenwood, Roland Culver, Simon Williams, John Vernon, Alexandra Stewart, Roland Culver, Chloe Franks, Katrina Holden Bronson, Jean LeClerc.
Portmanteau horror containing three vignettes.

Boy, author Wilbur Gray (Cushing) really has a thing against cats! In an effort to get his new book printed, he tries to convince his publisher Frank Richards (Milland) that cats exert a diabolical control over humans...usually with deadly consequences.

How does Gray prove his strange theory? He tells three tales of malevolent feline terror.

The strongest segment is London 1912. In it, the elderly (& wealthy) Miss Malkin (Greenwood) changes her will to exclude her ungrateful nephew and leave everything to her cats.

But when her maid (Penhaligon) Janet attempts to steal the revised will, the ferocious felines protect their mama...with tooth and nail!

The second segment is Quebec Province 1975, which tells the story of little Lucy (Bronson) who goes to live with her aunt & uncle after the death of her parents. When her cloying cousin Angela (Franks) makes life hell for her, Lucy uses witchcraft to get back at her...with a vengeance!

The last segment - Hollywood 1936 - is a homage (of sorts) to '30s Hollywood. In it, 2nd tier horror actor Valentine De'ath (Pleasence) kills his wife so he can be with his new girlfriend Edina (Eggar). But the real stopper is when De'ath murders all his wifey's cats - with the exception of one.

As De'ath and Edina celebrate their future together, the sole remaining cat finds a way to get rid of them both...in the most torturous way imaginable.

To be sure, The Uncanny fails to channel the same energy and joyful spirit of late '60s and early '70s Amicus anthologies such as Tales from the Crypt (1972) or The House that Dripped Blood (1971).

It's terribly uneven and the production values range from decent to slipshod. But it does have a few enjoyable moments - you won't forget Penhaligon's demise - and there's a cavalcade of genre performers you're unlikely to see again all in the same vehicle.

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