Uninvited (1988)

The Uninvited

As you’ve perhaps begun to suspect, I’ve seen my share of Bad Movies. And believe me, no one is more aware of the variety of these critters. They come in all shapes and sizes, all genres, budgets and time periods. They star and are directed and written by both hopelessly obscure nobodies and the biggest names in Hollywood. I’ve tried, while spotlighting the absolute bottom of the cinematic barrel, to indicate the strange and wonderful diversity of lifeforms to be found there.

There are, of course, your generic low budget genre flicks, made for peanuts and often rolled out with a healthy contempt for their intended audiences. These can be contrasted with your overblown big budget turkeys, made with the entire professional and financial muscle of the Hollywood Studio System behind them. Some films seemed destined to suck, while others achieve that distinction only with a lot of hard work and perverse amounts of bad luck.

It’s a well-stated axiom that no one sets out to make a bad movie. As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. During the ’80s, a number of low budget auteurs attempted to make their films ‘bad’ on purpose. The idea was that it was easier to make a bad movie on a negligible budget than a good one, and that with a Bad Movie, the niche ‘Cult Movie’ video market could be exploited. The problem, of course, is that making a ‘Bad Movie’ on purpose violates everything that makes Bad Movies work. Let it here be known that Jabootu disowns any such efforts.

Finally, though, there are the truly rare movies like The Uninvited. I swear, Jabootu took a personal interest in this one. It’s not that they made this one bad on purpose, even though that would be easier to understand. For this is one of those films whose plot concept is so inherently untenable, so utterly devoid of any possibility of success, that it strains credibility that it could have been produced. Your eyes pop less at the results than at the sheer fact that the film exists at all.

I mean, think about what it takes to get a picture rolling. Even a low budget film, like this one. Mostly, it takes bucks, and lots of them. Even a comparatively shoestring endeavor like this one requires the efforts of literally dozens and dozens, even hundreds, of people. Despite low pay and the kind of restrictions that a low budget requires, they work their asses off, in the hope that this film will be their ticket to better things.

But before those people can be hired, before the necessary equipment, the cameras, the lights, the sound mixing boards, the boom mikes, all that crap, can be procured, somebody, somewhere, must be convinced to fork over the hundreds of thousands of dollars that even a film made on this level requires. And if someone has enough funds at their disposal to produce a movie, chances are that any number of people are looking to get at that money, in order to get their own particular brainchild made. Therefore, the person or people with the moolah have some leeway in choosing the project they will fund.

This usually results in the financiers being ‘pitched’ with numerous ideas for possible films. These pitches usually detail the a high concept plotline, any name ‘talent’ that may be attached to the picture, and marketing info explaining why these elements ensure a good chance to generate a profit. Of course, filmmaking is an extraordinarily risky business. Still, the built-in glamour of being in ‘show business’ and the freak possibility of funding a Halloween, a movie that will make back fifty or a hundred times the original investment, help to produce a lot of movies that perhaps never really needed to be made.

Meanwhile, no one knows whether the film they produce will end up to be, say, The Evil Dead, or, more likely, The Outing. (Never heard of it? That my point.) And even if The Evil Dead didn’t really make much money, it still has a certain hip cachet that will have rubbed off on those involved in it’s making. I mean, lots of people have heard of it, and its neophyte director went on to make mainstream movies like Darkman and A Simple Plan, as well as producing television series like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.

Well, no chance of any of that with this picture. Again, the most amazing thing about this film was that it was ever funded in the first place. Trying to imagine the ‘pitch’ session for this thing makes my head swim. Apparently, screenwriter-director-producer Greydon Clark went to someone and said, “Here’s the idea: There’s this cat, right? An ordinary cute little tabby. Only it has a killer rat that comes out of it’s mouth, which threatens some cute girls in bikinis and kills off Clu Gulager and George Kennedy!”

Then, whoever it was that made the final call leaned forward and said “Cut this man a check for ‘x’ hundred thousand dollars!”

Amazingly, the film was even further handicapped in terms of a possible return of production funds. For somebody decided, although the film was produced in the late ’80s, to make the film so as to be rated PG-13. This means, first of all, that the gore quotient is restricted (although there is a fair amount of bloody violence, which might well have rated the film a light ‘R’ had not the film been so goofy). As well, it alerts the knowledgeable viewer looking for quality exploitation junk that the film will be nudity free. This is especially odd given the general plot line, which seems designed so as to create opportunities for some audience pleasing nudity.

Now, a really quality Bad Movie will generate a hackle-raising static field from the very first second. Uninvited is such a film. From the opening title card, featuring the words AMAZING MOVIES PRESENTS (“If it’s a good movie, it’s Amazing!” Ha! I kill me!) accompanied by a faux John Carpenter-esque score (and a poor one, at that), the dedicated Turkeyologist will settle deeply into his seat, bracing himself for a potentially lethal ninety minutes.

Director Clark attempts to demonstrate his artistic credentials from the very start. The establishing shots are intercut with black credit cards. Meanwhile (and it pains me to say this), the actual individual words that make up the credits emerge from various points of the screen. These words then come together in the middle of the picture to form, for instance, the phrase ‘Starring George Kennedy”, before splitting up again and exiting as they entered.

The reason it pains me to note this is that this whole ‘moving credit’ concept is completely ripped-off from Sergio Leone’s brilliant epic Once Upon a Time in the West. That Clark was allowed to steal from Leone without having his head explode into flames just goes to show that there’s no cosmic justice (or that he was under the protection of a powerful occult being, if you know what I mean).

We open on the headquarters of an Evil Corporation. How do we know that it’s an ‘Evil’ Corporation? Because any Corporation that appears in a horror movie is Evil. As an added clue, this one appears to be doing animal experiments. Even if a Non-Evil Corporation someday appears in a horror movie, it won’t be one that engages in animal experimentation.

Inside, doctors (they’re wearing white coats) are looking at an X-Ray of some animal. They’re debating whether an oddity on the X-Ray indicates a tumor. When one doctor tells the other to get the subject, so that they can dissect it and find out what’s going on, well, you just know that that’s not going to work out.

The Corporation’s Evilness is reinforced when the ‘subject’ proves to be a fluffy tabby cat. The cat is laid upon a table, while an ominous tray of surgical instruments is showcased. The Mean Doctor (played by the multi-talented Greydon Clark himself – Is there anything this guy can’t do?) prepares an anesthetic, but the cat breaks free and runs off. Dubbed in lines scream “Get the cat! Get him!”, just so we understand that they want to catch the cat. In case, you know, just watching them chase the cat doesn’t clue us in.

The Mean Doctor goes to the intercom, announcing a “Code Red!” Apparently, Code Red means ‘Help, a cat got loose!’ Frankly, I don’t see, say, Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise calling for a Red Alert because Data’s cat Spot is running around in the Jeffries Tubes, but then, what do I know?

The Mean Doctor further warns to “use extreme caution” when approaching the cat. Now, remember, at this point they merely believe that the cat might have a tumor, and are completely unaware of the killer rat thing. So this appears to be quite a prescient warning. He continues on: “Radiation Security! Radiation Security!” Now, if we’re to believe that the cat is radioactive, then why were they just handling it with their bare hands? This also begs the question: What sort of experiments are they doing here that would result in radioactive cats? What would be the purpose of such experiments? Aside from, you know, being Evil? Also, wouldn’t a ‘radioactive’ cat most likely be a ‘dead’ cat?

We watch the cat run down a stairwell, pursued by guys in both (of course) chem and radiation suits. This makes at least the third film featured here at Jabootu’s Dimension that assumes that guys in chem suits must be accompanied by others in radiation suits (or vice versa), although they are designed for completely different purposes. And while it might be logical, the fact that the guy in the radiation suit is lugging around a cat carrier fails to lend much gravitas to the scene.

Director-screenwriter-producer-actor Greydon Clark: Renaissance Man!
Yet again, Bad Movies inevitably equate Radiation and Chem suits.

Also failing to lend excitement here is the fact that they’re chasing a, you know, cat. More to the point, a cute, fluffy tabby cat. They can zoom in on it all they want, and add all the ‘ominous’ musical cues they please, and it still ain’t cutting it in the ‘ooohhh – eerie‘ department. I suppose that the cat’s ‘innocent’ visage is meant to strike an ‘ironic’ counterpoint to its death dealing capabilities. And perhaps, in another film made by different people, it would.

The guys catch up with our, er, hero, and shoot it with a tranquilizer dart. Then they jog down the stairs to collect the doped-up pussy. But the cat has undergone a frightening metamorphosis, turning into a bad cat puppet. Furthermore, as indicated, the mouth of the cat puppet opens and a bad rat puppet emerges. This rat ‘creature’ functions like the ‘second mouth’ of the Alien, by which I mean that it doesn’t detach, but merely projects from the ‘main’ mouth. (Or so I thought for the first three or four times I watched this movie. My adjusted opinion will be discussed later.)

When you think about it, that gives the rat creature an effective range of a few inches, especially as the cat always seems (I think) to go unconscious when the rat puppet makes it’s appearance. (Let’s not even go into the fact that the cat puppet looks very little like the actual cat.) So, needless to say, while the radiation suit guy falls victim to the rat, we don’t see the actual attack, as it would probably be impossible. Especially given that huge spouts of blood splashing against the walls which mark the attack. These would require massive, elongated wounds, which would seem to be beyond the capabilities of a rat’s small mouth and teeny claws. Plus, given the effective tearing radius of a two inch long arm…well, you see what I’m getting at here.

A convenient guard (who looks much too much like Julia Sweeny’s ‘Pat’ character for comfort) hears the carnage and opens a door into the stairwell, allowing the cat to escape. This sets up a ‘suspense’ sequence as various characters seek the cat in the company’s parking garage. A garage that is full of cars, by the way, indicating that the building is full of workers (despite the fact that an earlier establishing shot indicated that it was nighttime). These workers, one would think, might be wondering about that whole ‘Code Red’ thing, what with the shrieking sirens and all.

Said garage, moreover, sports various hazard signs warning of poison gas, radiation and dangerous chemicals (?!). Considering that the stairwell also sports such warnings, you have to wonder exactly what this company does. Aside from irradiating cats in such a fashion that they develop internal homicidal rat puppets. I mean, is there a lot of money in that?

Now we see some ‘floor-cam’ shots that rip-off The Evil Dead, in the same way that Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare did. Another film, by the way, that featured puppets who had to kill through offscreen implication, given their lack of mobility. Meanwhile, the Mean Doctor and his whiny assistant lower gates and lock down the building, trapping the cat. Presumably, having cornered the cat, which has already killed one guy, they’d call in professionals of some sort to hunt this thing down.

Instead, after noting that “we can’t let that cat out of here” (yeah, that’s probably a good idea), they go looking for it themselves. This scene becomes pretty tedious (and unintentionally comical), but it achieves exactly what the director wanted: It pads out the running time a little more. Some movies seem overly packed with characters and ideas, like they’re trying to cram as much into the limited time available to them as they possibly can.

This movie isn’t like that.

The Mean Scientist, his assistant and two guards begin the search. Meanwhile, the filmmakers helpfully dub in ‘meow’ sounds, so as to remind us that these guys are searching for that mutant cat that just killed that guy. This scene plays somewhat less excitingly than the ‘sword fight in the parking garage’ from Highlander. There, stuff was happening. Here, Evil Dead rip-off shots are intercut with scenes of bad actors in lab coats looking between cars.

Soon the Mean Scientist nears our kitty creature. We know because the rat’s rather silly ‘monstrous’ cry is heard, and we see a shadow of the rat puppet emerging from the cat puppet. Here’s a tip for you novice filmmakers out there: It’s generally considered a minus when half the time your menace is drawing ‘ooh, isn’t he cute!’ reactions, while invoking disbelieving laughs on other occasions.

The scientist spots the cat licking the face the actor playing the guard, who’s supposed to be dead. He shoots at it, but the fiend escapes. Meanwhile, the camera clumsily moves forward to show us the inept makeup job they did on the guard, meant to suggest that he’s been badly torn up. (Which makes sense only if he picked up the cat/rat and held it up to his face while it tore away at him.)

Anyway, the Mean Scientist gets his next, when he leans against a car (why would he do that?) and the cat puppet pops up through the car’s open moon roof (?!) and, uh, kills him. Somehow. (By the way, since cats aren’t that tall, the only way that a cat could emerge from a moon roof like that is if it were being held up there on, say, the end of an arm. If you know what I mean.)

Another oddity is that, despite (supposedly) tearing his victims to pieces, every time we catch a glimpse of the cat he’s utterly clean, sporting not a single bloodstain. I mean, this thing should be positively drenched in blood. In any case, his chilling carnage completed, the beast escapes through a convenient air vent. This vent is made doubly convenient by the fact that the outside grate isn’t secured in any way to the wall, thus allowing it to be pushed aside by, say, a cat.

The ‘prolog’ ‘accomplished,’ we now go to meet some of our main characters. These are two slutty looking girls, Suzanne and Bobbie, who look, shall we say, very ’80s. Both sport big frizzy hairdos, and are wearing torn T-shirts over bikinis. (Not that I remember this ever being a ‘big’ ’80s look.) For those who care, Suzanne is the ‘sensible’ one, and Bobbie is the ‘wild’ one.

They are sitting outside a fancy hotel, arguing because they don’t have enough money to stay there (how about a cheaper place?). The film’s stab at characterization for these two is that they’re constantly arguing in the way that Bad Movies always assume is cute, but is instead deeply annoying. Rather than thinking of them as adorably ‘spunky,’ you just want to slap them around and yell “SHUT UP!”

Moments later we see what is supposed to be the Hotel’s manager (although he looks at best like he manages a Motel 6) booting the girls out of the lobby because they don’t have ‘reservations.’ (Hey, let me in, pal. I have plenty of ’em at this point!) However, Mr. Graham, a fellow watching from the balcony overlooking the lobby, informs the Manager that they are with him. The Manager begins groveling in a unctuous manner, establishing Graham as some kind of big wig.

Graham comes down to schmooze the chicks. When he asks if they have a room, they do that ‘comical’ thing where one says ‘yes’ and the other ‘no,’ and then they both switch answers while trying to agree with the other. Graham offers to buy them dinner in the hotel restaurant. Suzanne notes (perhaps for our sake) that they’re not really dressed up to code. Graham informs them that this won’t be a problem. Apparently he’s got enough pull that they’ll seat two bikini and torn T-shirt bedecked trollops. At least Richard Gere dressed up Julia Roberts’ hooker in Pretty Woman before taking her out to a fancy restaurant.

Cut back to the cat, hiding out on the streets. Apparently, he’s nearby, as we then see a really silly looking limousine drive up to the entrance of the hotel. People gawk at it, presumably more awed by its gaudiness than its inferred opulence. A kid wearing a really bad ‘doorman’ costume (red cape and gray top hat) opens the door of the limo, and out steps George Kennedy and Clu Gulager. I really had thought Kennedy, star of many a lame B picture by this time, to be past the point where he could further embarrass himself. I thought wrong.

Kennedy is playing Mike Harvey, who shows some exasperation with Graham’s chickenhawking. He informs Graham that they must leave to attend “the meeting,” a phrase he gives that little emphasis that tells us that sometime shady is going on. Graham, although annoyed at being interrupted, agrees that he better get going. He says good-bye to the girls, and reminds them that a limo will come to bring them to a party on his yacht later that night.

The actor who plays Graham, Alex Cord, is especially amusing to watch. He’s trying to play Graham as some sort of suave sophisticate, a cultured member of the Jet Set. (Although later we come to see that this is just an ‘act’ on Graham’s part. We just couldn’t tell because Graham is as poor of an actor as Alex Cord.) Cord, meanwhile, projects all the flare and nuance of a kid playing a haughty English Lord in a junior high school production of A Man For All Seasons.

Movie Magic: This is *not* a real doorman. Really!

Graham berates Harvey for rushing him, telling him he has ‘no class.’ (!) Harvey replies that the guy they’re meeting is desperate. “Desperate men,” he sagely notes, “do desperate things!” A fact more than confirmed by Kennedy’s appearance in this movie. (Still, Greydon Clark must be a regular Shakespeare to write dialog like that. Maybe later, some character will tell us who gets ‘the early worm.’)

It’s easy to make fun of Kennedy, who’s been stuck in many a bad movie, and given many an overwrought performance. But the fact is that he towers over the others in this movie, and the film would be that much more unbearable were he not in it. Although his character expresses mainly disgust (and it’s not exactly difficult to imagine how Kennedy was able to marshal that particular emotion for his performance), Kennedy’s force of character is enough to raise the flick to whatever meager heights it occasional scales.

On the other hand, if you can’t indulge in some warped, malicious glee at the sight of a former OscarÆ winner playing second fiddle to a cat puppet, then you’re not going to get to far in the Land of Jabootu. So enough of this ‘fair’ stuff.

Cut to a stock shot of a yacht anchored out on the water. Graham is trying to reassure Perkins, a young fellow worried that the SEC is getting a little too nosy about Graham’s illicit financial dealings. Perkins is broke, having no money to buy his way out of trouble. Graham reassures him by showing him three brief cases, each holding one million dollars.

Perkins refuses to be reassured. Then, when Harvey asks him if he’s talked to anyone yet, you immediately know what’s going to happen. Remember on those old Quinn Martin TV series, like Barnaby Jones and Cannon, how people would always go someplace with a criminal and then threaten to incriminate them to the police? And then they’d get killed and you’d go, “Well, duh,” and think they pretty much deserved it for being such a moron? Well, guess what?

Perkins finally seems to figure out that he’s sitting out on a yacht with a ruthless bunch of guys that he could finger to the law. Supposedly convinced, Graham takes Perkins on a tour of the yacht. They quickly end up at the ship’s Jacuzzi. Harvey pulls out a pistol, while Albert (the Clu Gulager ‘character’) jumps into the Jacuzzi, dragging Perkins with him. Perkins is held under the water until he drowns, a scene highlighted by a goofy underwater shot where the camera stares up at Perkins as he struggles. Graham tells Albert to dispose of the body and get the yacht ready for the party.

Here’s where the filmmakers’ desperation to pad out the running time becomes most apparent. We’re now subjected to a totally extraneous sequence that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie (meanwhile, they save some money by failing to show us the oft mentioned ‘party’). We cut back to the cat, who’s being fed a bowl of milk by a kind soul who runs a gas station. He pets the cat and talks ‘kitty’ talk to it. Meanwhile, we see a pickup truck drive up in the background. Soon a thug comes up and beats the guy severely, leaving him lying on the ground.

The cat nuzzles his benefactor, then (three guesses) goes running off and jumps into the bed of the creep’s truck. Soon the guy and a fellow miscreant are driving down the highway, guzzling beer and laughing in a generically evil fashion. Then the cat puppet makes his appearance, pushing through (the painfully obvious candy glass) rear window. If you look closely here, you can glimpse an arm protruding from the rear of the puppet. This attack proves to be so shocking that the resultant stock footage of the truck crashing features a completely different type of truck (although, to be fair, they’re both red). Anyway, now that the miscreants have paid the ultimate price (appearing in Uninvited), we can get back to the movie.

Still, this scene is pretty funny, recalling those TV series that rip-offed The Fugitive but which starred animals. Of course, these shows, like Run, Joe, Run and Here’s Boomer, tended to feature dogs (since dogs, unlike cats, can do useful things). The hero of the series, like the German shepherd Joe from Run, Joe, Run, would be on the run from somebody out to get them, and like the Richard Kimball character in The Fugitive would aid whomever they bumped into that week before being forced back on the lam.

Theoretically, if Uninvited had really caught the cultural Gestalt, the resultant TV show could have gone in this direction. Only here, the cat, rather than aiding whatever kind folks took it in that week, would instead slay their enemies. More of a ‘Here’s Doomer.’

This side trip finished, we get back to the main, eh, plot. The next morning, we meet two more members of our cast. Corey and Lance, a couple of young horndogs, are sitting in an outdoor restaurant by the marina. Corey is the slick blonde WASPy one (his prop is a copy of the Wall Street Journal), Lance the zany sidekick one (comical hat, Hawaiian shirt). These two are the male counterparts for Suzanne and Bobbie.

In a hilariously lame attempt to explain everyone’s presence, Corey notes “Ft. Lauderdale at Spring Break! No place like it in the world!” This reference is meant not only to explain why all of our characters are here, but why no one has a place to stay. However, while I’ve never attended a Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale, I saw one on MTV once, and I believe that they generally attract more than five or six youngsters. I mean, would it really have been that much of a problem to hunt down some stock footage to provide even a little evidence that this event is going down?

They further attempt to obfuscate this point by having Lance suggest they go down to the beach to scope out the action. Corey haughtily replies that only the “riff-raff” hang out on the beach (he must mean the half-million college students attending Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale). The Marina, he notes, is where the in-the-know people hang out to find a “classy chick.” On cue, Bobbie and Suzanne make their appearance, still wearing their bikinis but having dropped the torn shirts. Uh, would it be ungentlemanly to note that they’ve apparently been wearing these swimsuits as their clothing for at least the last twenty-four hours? Oh, well, maybe they took a ‘French shower’ when we weren’t looking.

Recognizing Corey and Lance to be characters in the same movie they’re in, Suzanne and Bobbie exchange some ‘aren’t they cute!’ looks and are soon sitting at their table. (This is apparently the ‘lighthearted,’ ‘romantic’ part of the movie, meant to counterpoint the later terror and make it even more, uh, terrifying.) ‘Comically,’ just when it looks like the foursome is hitting it off, the guy’s nerdy buddy Martin shows up. Martin looks enough like a young Ron Silver that I’d suggest that Silver sue the filmmakers, for making it even remotely possible for someone to think that he appeared in this movie.

George Kennedy asks actors Cord (Graham) and Gulager (Albert), "What the hell am I doing here?"
For those who care - Lance, Bobbie, Suzanne, Corey.

Martin ignores Corey’s ‘humorous’ signs to take off, and to the guys’ chagrin, reveals to the girls that they don’t have a room, either. Bobbie mentions that they met this rich guy, Walter Graham, who has a yacht. Corey looks excited, gasping out “‘Wall Street‘ Walter?!” This is where the filmmakers’ brilliant gambit of showing Corey reading the Wall Street Journal pays off. See, that establishes Corey as someone who would be up on such matters. Hmm, I see some expository dialog coming up.

“I mean, this guy is the arbitrageur in the entire world,” he salivates, confirming my hunch (and yeah, thanks). “He’s made more millions on Wall Street than anybody!” This would mean, I suppose, that Graham is in fact a billionaire (assuming that he made more than, say, Mike Milken). Yet, oddly, the film will treat the three million he has with him in cash as pretty much his entire fortune, other than his secret bank accounts. This doesn’t quite seem right. This guy should leave three million dollars behind as a tip.

A little more exposition and we’ve learned that Graham’s yacht is leaving for the Caribbean that morning, that the girls are invited for the trip, and that they’ve invited the guys to go, too. (I’m not really sure that they have the authority to do that, but, hey, we’ll be needing plenty of potential victims later, right?) And by now, Bobbie is running her hand up Lance’s thigh and making suggestive remarks.

Of course, Graham has undoubtedly invited the girls on the trip under the assumption that he’ll be getting into their, uh, swimsuits. Chances are that he didn’t expect them to pick up about the first two guys they meet and bring them along to have sex with. Graham, buddy, one word: Hookers. When are you going to learn? It always pays to go with professionals. (Although it makes Graham looks less than awesome that, with a yacht and everything, he can’t pick up chicks at Spring Break who’d be willing to put out for a free trip to the Caribbean. This is a master negotiator?)

We spot the cat for a second, just so that we know he’s around. Then Graham’s horrifyingly ugly limo (easily the scariest thing in the movie) arrives. Graham hangs up his car phone, disgruntled to learn that the girls aren’t on board the yacht. Harvey is himself pleased at this, but Graham notes that having two attractive chicks on boards provides ‘cover’ for the trip. (Cover for what? Is some undercover guy going to phone in a report: “Chief, something suspicious here. Graham’s taking his yacht down to the Caribbean! And get this: There are no girls on board!”)

Next we spot our newly formed fivesome walking down the pier. They laugh about their plans to cuckold Graham when suddenly (finally!) they hear a cat. Somehow it’s gotten itself into a garbage container. No, not this movie, I mean an actual garbage container. They remove it, and, of course, decide to take it with them. (Uhm, is it just me, or does that sorta de-justify the whole “Uninvited” thing?)

Amusingly, Suzanne is supposed to forge an instant attachment with the cat, who obviously is trying to squirm away from her the entire time. It’s probably trying to escape from the movie. After all, unlike the human lunkheads appearing here, the cat never chose to be in this mess. Also, nobody seems to find anything all that big about the Genetic Laboratories collar that the cat is wearing. They just remove it and toss it away. (Gee, ‘Genetic Laboratories.’ Wonder how long it took them to come up with that?)

After a charming ‘comedy’ scene where the zany Lance steps onto a small motorboat and instantly pukes (ha ha), our group heads over to Graham’s yacht. Onboard we meet Rachel, the final (at last!) member of our cast. Rachel, despite being a rather young woman, proves to be the captain of the yacht.

Oh, we also learn the following plot points: The ship has no crew (Graham’s a jerk, so they all left.) The yacht used to belong to Rachel’s now dead father, and she only stays in the hope of someday regaining ownership of it. Graham would be willing to give her the ship if she’d just sleep with him (!!). (Hookers, Walter, hookers!!) However, she’s too virtuous for this. In case, you’ve never seen a horror movie before, that last bit means she’ll be one of the survivors at the end of the movie.

In fact, let’s take a rundown, here. Graham, Harvey and Albert are murderers, and, even worse, Capitalists. They’re dead. Suzanne and Bobbie are bimbos, and, even more damning, Bobbie is sexually aggressive and Suzanne brought the cat on board. They’re dead. Corey is a yuppie (he reads the Wall Street Journal and is impressed at the chance to meet Graham) and Lance is a zany, horny sidekick. They’re dead. Rachel is the noble chick, not looking for casual sex, and she has a ‘good’ reason for being here (i.e., to reclaim her father’s boat from the slimy Graham). She’s OK. And, finally, there’s Martin, the one who’s a little too serious and smart for Corey and Lance. OK, he’ll be Rachel’s eventual romantic interest, and escape with her at the end of the movie. Does everyone have all that?

Next we see Graham preparing to kick the guys off the yacht, despite some oily butt-kissing from Corey. He’s going to put them on the approaching shuttle boat. However, Albert is on the shuttle, and he brings news. The SEC just got a warrant to search Graham’s yacht. (Is that really how it works?) So they’ve got to leave immediately. In case you can’t see where this is going, Graham is forced to take on the five kids because otherwise there’s no crew.

Graham orders Suzanne to dump the cat back on the shuttle, but she refuses. The cat, meanwhile, is still noticeably squirming, trying to get away from her. Yeah, it’s love at first sight, alright. Then we get the film’s big ‘ironic’ line: “Please, Walter,” Suzanne pleads, “I promise this darling little kitty won’t be any trouble.” Man. The Irony, huh. I mean, if only they knew what we know, huh? Boy. Makes you think. Uhm-huh. Needless to say, though, Graham finally caves in (which, again, sort of mitigates against the whole ‘Uninvited‘ thing).

Downstairs, we see the carefully assembled ‘wreckage’ of last night’s ‘wild’ party on the yacht (hats off to the set dressers, folks!). Our five youngsters start to grab some leftovers. Bobbie turns on the lounge’s hi-fi. This looks like something you’d have picked up at K-Mart during a Blue Light Special. Besides, weren’t turntables already rather antiquated, even at that time (didn’t rich people have CD players by 1988)? Some hideous ‘dance’ (I guess) ‘music’ pours forth, and either Bobbie and Suzanne start to dance sexily or else their nervous systems begin spastically reacting to the aural punishment they’re taking.

As if the, eh, music wasn’t bad enough for our poor kitty, the jocular Lance tosses a popcorn kernel at it, causing it to run off. (OK, now you know he’s dead!) Anyway, the goofier four are soon ‘partying’ (a subject I’ve not all that expert on, but still, if this qualifies then I’m not missing much). Meanwhile, the contemplative Martin stands aside, knowing that acting too mature and ‘sensitive’ for these shenanigans is his ticket to surviving the movie. (Actually, we later see him ‘dancing’ by himself in the most embarrassing fashion imaginable. Maybe it would be kinder to kill him, too.)

Can I bring up something else, while we’re here? The failure to attempt even minimally consistent characterization is really annoying. Let’s take Corey. Admittedly, he’s supposed to be a hedonistic, self-absorbed slickster. Still, it’s obvious that he wants to get in Graham’s good graces, since the man represents everything he want to be. Also, Corey knows that Graham is a hothead, and that the only reason he has a continuing opportunity to schmooze the guy is because Graham needs a crew for the voyage.

Now, given this, anyone with half a brain, or less, really, would realize that letting Graham find his crew ‘partying’ amongst the rubble of last night’s shindig is not the way to make a favorable good impression. Corey should be exhorting the others to get the place cleaned up. He’d want to do everything he could to get on Graham’s good side, in the hopes that it would lead to something bigger. Imagine, say, Michael J. Fox’s character from Family Ties in this situation instead. Instead, Corey immediately starts acting like a bum, blowing whatever chance he has of favorably impressing Graham.

Instead, as if to emphasize that these characters should be regarded as idiots, a laughing Lance notes that he “sure feels sorry for the sucker has to clean this place up!” Now, how is it even possible that he doesn’t realize that that’s going to be them? I know it’s supposed to be ‘funny,’ but really, are we supposed to somehow connect with characters this stupid? At this point, with the film only one third over with, you begins to pray that the cat starts his rampage soon and proceeds quickly, so that we can just get out of here.

Needless to say, this line is no sooner uttered then Graham and Harvey show up and tell them to get to work. Again, Kennedy’s impatience seems all too real here, and you can practically see him wondering how he went from co-starring with the likes of Paul Newman and Charleston Heston to this crap. One wonders if that Oscar he went home to every day was a solace, or a bitter reminder of better days.

Up on deck we’re dealt (ha ha) a little more exposition. Harvey grouses about hating the punks (and who can blame him?). Graham replies that they must focus on getting to the Caymans and withdrawing their illicit loot before anything else goes wrong. Then it’s off to some non-extradition land to live the good life. (Of course, if this was their plan all along, then killing Perkins makes no sense.)

Cut to Rachel and Albert up on the bridge. Rachel’s on the radio, learning that there’s a (need I even say it) big storm brewing up ahead of them. Meanwhile, Clu Gulager, the guy playing Albert, hams it up some more. Gulager, like Kennedy a screen vet of real movies (although not so many), plays Albert in a truly bizarre and geeky fashion. This somewhat works against the movie, as it makes it somewhat weird that the high roller Graham would have him as a flunky. Still, that’s only a drop in the movie’s overall ocean of illogic, and Gulager probably viewed his inane antics as a way to maintain his sanity while making this movie, much like Kennedy apparently channeling his anger into his performance.

Anyway, for some reason they have nervous nelly Albert manning the wheel (!). The spastic Albert then pulls some switch, which causes something noisy to happen in the engine room, where the cat is hiding, which startles the cat, which turns into the cat puppet, which disgorges the rat puppet, which tears at some wires, which causes some sparks, which doesn’t seem to effect anything, but presumably will later. Or something.

First stage: Real cat.
Second stage: Shift to startlingly real Cat Puppet.
Third stage: ‘Rat’ Puppet emerges from the Cat Puppet’s mouth.
Forth stage: Rat Puppet somehow grows into ‘Mutant Cat’ puppet, and the horror begins!

Down in the galley, Martin, Corey and Lance are cleaning up. Actually, Corey is goofing off, and Lance is complaining, but Martin is excited, viewing this whole deal as an adventure. (Of course, he knows that his ‘good attitude’ is part of what makes him the ‘hero,’ ensuring his survival. So he’s not fooling anyone.)

Meanwhile, the girls come down to rub it in that they’re doing all the work. Then, in a rather sleazy scene, the girls open the buttons on their blouses, exposing the sides of their breasts (and only that. PG-13, remember?). Then they start to make out with Corey and Lance, which seems somewhat rude, considering that Martin’s standing right there. Of course, he’s the only one in the room not looking to get offed by a ridiculous cat/rat puppet, so I guess he comes out ahead in the long run.

Cut to that night. Albert is still manning the wheel, even though this is presumably like ten or twelve hours later. (Since he doesn’t have a clue about what he’s doing, and since Rachel just told him to hold the wheel steady, couldn’t they just, you know, lock the wheel down or something?) Albert, who in fact seems to be playing pretty loose with the wheel, looks around and then grabs the bottle of booze which is apparently kept in a cabinet on the bridge. (Yeah, that’s a good idea.) These allows him to ham it up even more, as his weird geek character is now a weird, drunk geek character.

Downstairs, Graham is regaling the kids with an extremely vague story about some of his financial adventures, which everyone seems to find inordinately humorous and entertaining (still, a drowning man grasps at any straw, I suppose.) Meanwhile, the cat makes an appearance, staring at a fruit platter (?!) to indicate its hunger. (Are cats real big on fruit?) Off to the side, Martin, wearing glasses to emphasize that he’s the ‘smart’ one, is playing backgammon with, that’s right, Rachel. (This is why Rachel left the bridge with Albert in command?!) The glasses make Martin look even more like Ron Silver. I’m telling you, Ron, you have got to sue these guys!

“You’re different than your two friends,” she notes, presumably meaning, ‘in that you aren’t due to be killed by a cat with a rat in its mouth.’ Meanwhile, we groan, knowing that the remark is there to set up some ‘character’ exposition. (Hey, cat, shouldn’t you be killing people by now?) Corey is pre-Law, Lance is “a jock,” and Martin proves to be (oh, brother!) a biologist. Gee, will his scientific knowledge come into play later in the movie? (Duh.)

Suzanne notices the cat and picks it up. Graham reminds her to keep it away from him, to which she replies (to the cat), “You’re not going to hurt anyone, are you, baby?” (Man. Irony. Makes you think.) Graham then notices that Rachel is enjoying Martin’s company, and goes over to be a jerk. Annoyed by his antics, Rachel makes an excuse about relieving Albert at the wheel. (Yeah, that’d probably be a good idea in any case, you’d have to think.)

The girls crank up the stereo again, and the Horny Four start dancing to another awful tune. The cat, proving that’s he’s the smartest one in the picture, screeches and runs from the room. (Note to prospective Jabootuists: It’s always an solid indication that you’re watching a low budget piece of dreck when the song credits at the end of the movie are all of tunes you’ve never heard of, which are all the work of one band nobody’s ever head of. In this case, the ‘music’ is supplied by the estimable trio of Chili Charles, Carl Galloway and Tom Gunn.)

Rachel finds Albert drunk up on the bridge. She acts annoyed, but Gulager’s goofy drunk act is easily the most entertaining thing in the film. At least he gives us the credit of admitting that the film sucks and that we all might as well have what fun we can. Some might argue that this is unprofessional, but the common viewer, starved for anything remotely entertaining, might well wish that Gulager had a bigger part in the movie.

Anyway, Rachel now finds that the drunk Albert has allow the boat to (need I even say it) go off course. Albert is then seen staggering out on the deck, as ominous music plays in the background. For those unacquainted with the dynamics of low budget filmmaking, it’s always a good bet that any ‘name’ actors that the film managed to sign will be killed first. This is because they cost the most, and so their parts are usually written in such a fashion so that all their scenes can filmed in one or two days. Killing them early in the proceedings is an easy way to truncate their roles.

Albert makes his way to a storage cabinet to the aft of the boat, where he’s stowed more wine. Needless to say, he finds the cat inside. (Let’s just ignore that fact that there’s no way the cat could possibly have gotten in there by itself.) Needless to say, Albert starts messing with the cat, with predictable results.

Back at the party, the kids are still dancing to yet another awful tune. I guess this carefree frolic is meant to be an ironic counterpoint, as we immediately cut back to the clawed Albert. We know that something weird is supposed to be going on, as he’s suffering from profuse bleeding and mysterious swellings that look much like a series of cheesy air bladder effects (where balloon-like bladders are hidden under latex ‘skin’ and inflated to create a bulging effect).

This is obviously being set up to reveal a Killer Shrews (which was a much better movie, by the way) type gambit, wherein the cat is somehow poisonous and thus its attack is invariably lethal. (And which will allow the convenient biologist on board to supply us with retarded ‘scientific’ theories.) Anyway, Albert, having been puppetted to death, helpfully falls overboard in order to keep the other characters in the dark for a while longer. Thus the film disposes of one of it’s two (comparatively) expensive players.

Apparently hearing the splash (although no one heard Albert screaming his head off during the attack), Harvey goes off to investigate. Soon he comes back and grabs Graham. Back out on deck they find the blood and spilled wine and assume (duh) that the drunken Albert smacked his head and fell off the ship. Knowing that Rachel will insist on searching for him if she finds out, the two decide to pretend that they never saw the evidence.

The next day the girls are lounging by the Jacuzzi while Graham leers at them from the upper deck (hookers, Walter, hookers). This idyll is interrupted with an patently bogus ‘engine trouble’ noise. Rachel then spontaneously materializes to note that the engine’s running hot and that she needed to shut it down. (Remember when the puppet damaged at the engine earlier? No? OK.)

Later we see Rachel finding the evidence of Albert’s demise, whereupon she also deduces that the drunken Albert fell overboard. She goes to inform Graham and Harvey, who express spurious surprise at this development. She proceeds to tell them that she’ll have to inform the authorities (in the ocean? Who’s that?) and that they’ll have to turn back and look for him.

Graham replies that he has to meet his deadline, and shows her the transfer of ownership papers he brought with. If she gets them to the Islands on time, he’ll transfer ownership of the boat to her on (fairly) reasonable terms. To assuage her conscience, they inform her that Albert couldn’t swim, so that looking for him would be a waste of time.

Rachel is soon noting Albert’s mishap in her log (‘Day 6: Movie still sucks. CG the first to escape. Lucky Bastard! GK vows he’ll be next.’) Martin runs in, asking her if she has a sextant (gee, why would she have one of those on a boat?). In a really good example of bad expository dialog, Rachel hands him the sextant, noting that it’s “used for navigation.” Just in case he asked for an instrument at random and doesn’t know what its purpose is. Maybe there’s a scavenger hunt going on or something.

Martin, however, is having a MacGyver moment, and uses the lenses of the sextant to form an impromptu microscope. (‘It’s OK, ma’am, I’m a biologist.’) He’s found a large swath from Albert’s bloody jacket, which rather improbably escaped the notice of everyone else. After a moment, his jury-rigged instrument produces an unbelievably good view of the blood sample. And why, you might ask, would he even think to examine the blood stain? IITS.

Martin turns a sextant into a functioning microscope as Rachel looks on. It’s just that easy!
Hey, that actually worked pretty well, huh?

Anyway, he’s flicks some water on the sample (?) and it start moving (or something equally stupid). Martin shows Rachel, prompting her to ask (for our benefit, no doubt) what she’s looking at. He replies that they’re blood cells, but a “hundred, even a thousand times (mumble, mumble) normally for fresh blood.” You might think I’m exaggerating, but I listened to this line like six times before giving up. The fact that they would allow what is presumably an important bit of exposition to be unintelligibly muffled like this is extraordinary, even for this level of filmmaking.

Graham enters the lounge where Bobbie is working out in her bikini. The camera roams around the scenery, as least as much as a PG-13 rating allows, and then Graham finally makes a move on her. This riles the nearby cat, at least according to the dubbed-in ‘angry cat’ noises. When Bobbie rebuffs him, he begins to force himself upon her.

Lance, however, enters the room, and runs over and pops Graham one in the breadbasket. Then Harvey comes in (it’s certainly gotten busy in here) and takes a potshot at Lance, nicking his arm. Amazingly, despite the fact that Lance is standing directly in front of a sealed window, we see no evidence of the bullet’s continuing on. Then, with Harvey about to blow away Lance, Corey comes in and grapples with him. (If any more people come in here it’s going to start resembling the ‘stateroom’ scene from A Night At the Opera.’ Minus the talent, of course.) This causes Harvey’s gun to skitter away.

Harvey incapacitates Corey with a few poorly staged blows and goes to retrieve his pistol. However, the puppet tears into his ankle, and comically pretty much severs off the foot. The enraged Harvey fires at the puppet (which we now see in some very well lit shots, and it ain’t helpin’ our suspension of disbelief any). Unfortunately, his gun is still loaded with magic bullets, which damage the first thing they hit (like a bottle) while leaving anything behind that object unscathed (like a second bottle behind the first). Thus the cat is spared when a bullet hits a glass tumbler right in front of it, and the bullet dissipates before the kitty can be hit.

The shots bring Rachel and Martin. Ignoring the severely damaged Harvey, they cross the room and examine the lightly wounded Lance. Hmm, perhaps Martin could use the lenses of the sextant to focus the available sunlight, creating a de facto laser beam that could cauterize Lance’s wound. Sadly, they instead use conventional first aid. Meanwhile, Graham is the only one to attend to the obviously much worse off Harvey.

Finally, Martin comes over to check out Harvey. He listens to his chest and notes “His heart is racing a mile a minute!” (Gee, glad they haven’t run out of clichÈs, yet.) Anyway, we all knew that because the filmmakers helpfully Foleyed in ‘heartbeat’ noises. Then they examine the effects prosthetic, uh, his injured foot, marveling that a mere cat could have caused such a severe wound. Oddly, none of them attempts to bind his profusely bleeding ankle, or to apply a tourniquet farther up his leg.

Rachel and Suzanne head up to the bridge to Mayday for help. Graham, however, armed with Harvey’s pistol, orders them to get away from the radio. When Rachel ignores him he (need I even say it?) puts a bullet into it. (Ever notice that no ship in a movie, no matter how large, seems to come equipped with a back-up radio. I mean, the one shown here is maybe the size of a VCR. Would it really be that difficult to carry another?) This, of course, now fulfills the destiny of any boat in a ‘movie danger’ situation: They’re off course, people on board are in mortal danger, the radio’s out, and they’re heading into a big storm. Have we forgotten anything?

Graham then forces her to start off for the Caymans by threatening to shoot Suzanne. Rachel gives in, but reminds him (and us) about the problems with excess heat that the engines been having. She warns him that if the engine goes down, they’ll be dead in the water. It goes without saying, of course, that now Graham will have to make sure there are no witnesses when they arrive at the Islands (a fairly neat trick, since he can’t drive the boat).

When Rachel has trouble with the engine, Graham pushes her aside. Rachel then uses a fire extinguisher on him. (Has anyone in a movie ever used one of these things to, you know, put out a fire?) Surprised, Graham drops his gun, which is picked up be a rather pissed-off Suzanne. Then the three, with Graham covered by Suzanne, head downstairs.

We cut to Harvey groaning painfully on a sofa. Can’t they just end his misery (by which I mean, get him out of this picture)? Martin, waving his magic sextant, proclaims to the group that the cat is “highly poisonous.” The others greet this statement with incredulity. After all, we’re not talking mutant killer bees or shrews here. Martin, however, explains about the blood sample that he and Rachel examined earlier.

Meanwhile, Harvey is, unnoticed by the rest, preparing for a major display of air bladder magic. (As a side note, the blood on Lance’s bandage, despite the fact that we saw the bullet merely graze his arm, now indicates a much more severe in and out wound.) Prodded by Lance, Bobbie (oddly the only one who supposedly got a look at it) admits that the cat appeared to be some kind of lame puppet. Uh, I mean, horrible monster.

Suzanne now wonders if this has anything to do with the Genetic Laboratories collar the cat was wearing. (You know, as a biologist, Martin may have wanted to pay a little more attention to that at the time.) Graham starts to speak up, causing Corey to wave the gun at him and tell him to shut up. (Who gave that doofus the gun?) More annoyingly, Corey engages in a little Superfluous Racking, where you pull back the pistol’s slide for no reason. All this would accomplish is expelling an unfired cartridge from of the gun.

Martin agrees, chiming in with his professional opinion: “There’s a great deal of experimentation on lab animals.” Gee, thanks, Einstein. He further goes on to postulate that perhaps the cat was exposed to a metabolic steroid, explaining how it could have done such a number on Harvey, right through his shoe. This is followed with the film’s goofball pathology of the cat’s toxicity. It seems that whatever “chemical” the cat transmits causes the blood cells to rapidly multiply. This results in exaggerated air bladder effects that eventually climax with the spouting of gobs of stage blood. (Uh, actually, I put that last part in ‘layman’s’ terms.)

Anyway, now that we know what’s going on, we can watch Harvey die in gross, if silly, detail. He quickly expires, and we soon see them bury his body at sea. The group’s next plan is to check out the engine. First, though, Rachel and Corey take Graham down to his room, where he can be locked up. To my severe irritation, Corey pointlessly racks back the slide on his gun yet again. Since we can see that no shell ejects, that means that the gun is out of ammo. (Or that it’s a prop, which would be left empty of even blank cartridges for safety’s sake, unless the scene actually calls for a shot to be fired.)

Cut to that night, as we move around, establishing where everyone is. Suzanne is on deck, watching for any ships that might wander by. The prostate Lance and Bobbie are down in his room. They’re yakking when Bobbie hears a noise come from the closet. Lance tries to get up to check, but Bobbie tells him that she’ll check. (Personally, if I thought the cat was in the closet, I’d just shut the door and barricade it. But what do I know?)

Lance holds up a flashlight, and Bobbie stands before the door. This is pointlessly milked for a bit, then the door is flung wide open (so that they’d be no way to contain the cat were it there). We see that nothing is there. Sort of a metaphor for the entire movie, now that I think of it. (Perhaps if Master of the Macabre Edgar A. Poe had written about this movie, he would have noted, “Here she opened wide the door – Boredom there, and nothing more.”)

Down in the engine room, we catch up with Rachel and Martin. She’s working on the wiring and notes that she’s got to “trace every hose and electrical wire.” Then she hands Martin the tool she’s been working with, and we see that it’s (I swear!) a spatula (!!).

Then it’s back up to Graham’s room. The intro shot shows what is supposedly a cover shot of Graham on an issue of Money magazine. Oddly, it looks just like one of those phony magazine covers you’d buy at an amusement park kiosk, leading one to wonder if he also has one that sports him as People’s ‘The Sexiest Man Alive.’ Corey is in the room (why? And again, who gave this guy the gun?), berating Graham, who’s lying back on his bed.

Now, remember, Graham threatened to kill everyone on board if necessary to force Rachel to start the boat. And he was seconds away from shooting Suzanne (Corey’s squeeze) in the head. So, frankly, I’d be disinclined to let the one guy with a gun waltz around in Graham’s room. Especially the money hungry Corey (which is why he has the gun – IITS).

Corey grabs Graham’s (obviously bogus) Rolex off the nightstand, and Graham tells him to keep it: “I’ve got a draw full of ’em.” (Apparently, Graham is regularly victimized by street peddlers selling ‘authentic Rolexes’.) Now that he has the mouse nibbling at the cheese, Graham goes to the safe and pulls out one of the briefcases. Corey’s eyes about pop out of his head when he sees the cash inside (this is not a great ‘acting’ moment for the guy playing Corey).

Now, earlier in the movie, when Graham was taunting Perkins before they killed him, he said the one thing he had learned was never to leave himself in a position to be blackmailed. Here, he’s leaving himself in a position to be murdered, if Corey were a little more realistically devious than the dumb ass shown here. I mean, Graham doesn’t even close the safe behind him when he pulls out a brief case.

That means that all Corey has to do is shoot him in the head and tell the others that Graham tried to grab the gun. Then he’s got three millions bucks in cash that no one else even knows exists. Luckily for Graham, though, Corey doesn’t think of any of this. Instead, with a little quick bribery, he promises to help Graham get down to the Caymans ASAP.

Back down in the engine room, and Rachel and Martin are still plugging away. I can’t see what new tool Rachel is using here, perhaps a turkey baster. Then Martin calls her over to introduce a new plot point. You see, he’s found some…bread crumbs (bum bum bum). Upstairs, he explains the significance of this to the group.

He warns that any food or drinking water exposed to the cat will become contaminated (look, just go with ’em here, OK?). So it’s important to keep the main supply locked away, although he realizes that this will result in a very hungry mutant cat running around. (Uh, couldn’t you just leave food out for the cat? Then it wouldn’t get hungry, and would have little reason to try to get to the main food supply.)

Down in Suzanne’s room, where she’s pointedly sitting with her back to the camera (and the open door of her room!). She stretches and removes her shirt in such a way as to indicate that she’s not wearing a bra, while not violating the sanctity of the PG-13 rating. Suddenly, she hears a ‘meow’ noise and actually turns toward the open door to her room. But, ha ha, it’s only Corey, pretending to be the beast whose slightest bite guarantees a horrific, agonizing death. What a card!

Anyway, this results in a tedious and utterly predictable ‘make-out’ scene, the only oddity of which is that it doesn’t progress into a full fledged ‘sex’ scene. Faux ‘romantic’ music fills the air, or soundtrack, anyway. Corey and the attractive Suzanne, wearing only a bikini bottom, fall onto the bed (the door to the room is still apparently open, by the way) and start passionately kissing.

The action, uh, well, ‘mounts’ isn’t really the right word here. ‘Progresses,’ I guess, to the point where Corey is fondling her butt. Then, as if on cue (and I mean that literally), the twosome spontaneously stop their frolic and fall into a snuggle, as if exhausted from their endeavors. (Which is only fair, I guess, as the audience has been exhausted by their endeavors for about an hour now.) This gives Corey the chance to spout off on what a bigwig he’ll be when they get off the boat. Oh, and he’s wearing the Rolex (wouldn’t this make the others suspicious?). Does anybody not get it by now that he’s Graham’s stooge?

Rachel and Martin are on the bridge, seeing if the engine will start. Around the ship, everybody stands up in excited “Gee, I hope the engine starts!” poses. But, alas, it doesn’t. It’s sustained too much damage. Rachel starts going off on how she never should have let Graham make her leave port with no real crew and short on parts and supplies. Martin grabs her and gives her a kiss on the head to settle her down, and that seals them as the movie’s official ‘hero’ couple. (Gee, didn’t see that coming.)

Back with Lance and Bobbie in his room. She asks about his shoulder, which is presumably sore, I suppose, being a good six or eight inches from where he was shot. Lance replies that he’s fine, except that he’s lost all sensation in his arm. (Yeah, that’s a good sign.) Bobbie doesn’t think this is any big deal either (quite a collection of brainiacs we have here, huh?) and starts to (*yawn*) provide some sexual healing. Even more annoyingly, the film’s irritating ‘romantic’ music kicks in again.

Now we get one of the film’s primo continuity errors. (Even though chances are your attention will have slipped to the point where you might not spot it.) After making out a little bit, Bobbie goes to do something for Lance’s arm, which she notes is behind a pillow over by the wall. Yet seconds ago, Lance had to lift his ‘dead arm’ (and as we’ll see, they established this point for a reason) with his other hand.

When he did so, he raised it clearly into sight, and then dropped it clearly to his side, well away from the pillow. In order for his hand to now be behind the pillow, he (or Bobbie) would have had to move the pillow, lift and tuck the sensationless arm further away from his torso, and then move the pillow back over it. Nothing remotely like this happens.

Anyhoo, long story short, Bobbie movies the pillow and Yahh! we find the mutant version of the cat (more on this later) chowing down on his hand. Or at least a prosthetic model thereof, complete with fingers that come off. I guess that the cat’s supposed to be attacking cause he’s hungry, but it’s still out of character in regards to the rest of the film, which pretty clearly establishes that the cat only attacks people who mess with it. As odd as it sounds, this particular slip among the many really throws you.

He and Bobbie scream, and she follows him as he runs up on deck. Yelling, “I’ve got the poison in my blood” about a hundred times to ‘justify’ his actions, Lance runs to the side of the ship and prepares to jump overboard. Still, at least he doesn’t lean forward and yell “I’m the King of the World!” Now, at last, the movie finally cuts us a break, for Bobbie somehow ends up tumbling overboard with Lance, whittling down the number of characters who must be bumped off before the movie’s over.

Mysteriously, both bodies just disappear from sight. I know it’s possible for bodies to sink, waiting for expanding gasses generated in the decomposition process to bring them back to the surface. But that hardly happens one hundred percent of the time, and I find it unlikely that both of them would be killed by the ten foot fall and then immediately disappear. In any case, Corey and Martin jump into the water to search for them, with predictable results.

Later, Martin and Corey are drying out before a fire in the lounge. Rachel mentions (plot point) that they’re out of water. She offers them champagne, but Martin suggests that they save it. (Wouldn’t drinking an alcoholic beverage just serve to further dehydrate everybody?) Suzanne reacts to the news by freaking out. She’s obviously the film’s designated ‘go nuts’ person, an obligatory fixture in any film of this type.

We next see Corey on watch up on the deck. He’s searching the waters with a pair of binoculars. Of course, we get the mandatory ‘view through the binoculars’ shot, where you inexplicably see two sets of images. (Which, of course, is nothing like how binoculars work. Why do they keep doing this? By the way, when you look though a keyhole, you don’t see a shape of a keyhole, either.)

Even more amusingly than usual, though, it looks like they created the ‘binocular’ cut-out by using (I swear) one of those Viewmaster deals you used to have as a kid. This not only explains why the image through the ‘binoculars’ is blurry, but, more importantly, why the clearly round lenses of the binoculars would supposedly result in two nearly rectangular viewing areas.

Hey, nice binoculars!
Man, clear as crystal!

Martin and Rachel join Corey on the deck. Corey makes a pitch for freeing Graham, saying that they’re too shorthanded to keep him locked up. Rachel disagrees, but Martin sides with Corey. After a bit of debate, Rachel accedes and hands Corey the keys. (Oddly, despite the fact that Rachel is the ship’s captain and obviously a competent person, she keeps deferring to Martin. Must be a ‘chick’ thing.)

She and Martin will work on the engine, Graham and Corey will try to get the cat and Suzanne will keep watch for other ships. (I’d like to note that here that Suzanne, who is supposed to be almost incapacitated with fear, has obviously been keeping her long blond hair nicely curled and really, really clean. And her make-up up to date. Just thought I’d mention it.)

We cut to Graham and Corey entering the engine room with a dish of tuna. The tuna has been poisoned, and they’re leaving bits of it around in different locations. (Although it seems counterproductive to leave bait around in the engine room, which seems like the last place you’d want to lure the cat, even to poison it.)

Upstairs we watch the brutally realistic ‘rationing’ scene, wherein everyone gets an once of corn flakes and a small measure of champagne to drink (see my note above). Wow, it really brings the reality of the situation home. Amusingly, the box of cereal is clearly Kellogg’s, but the name has been painted over, presumably to keep Kellogg’s from suing them for using their product in such an awful movie. A more humorous take is that the producers couldn’t get Kellogg’s to cough up a product placement fee, and so, in a fit of pique, removed their logo from the box. There, that’ll show ’em!

Corey, meanwhile, is down in the engine room, checking his ‘traps.’ (Why isn’t Graham with him? So much for the ‘team’ idea.) Ominous music plays, and it’s getting rather late in the movie, and the script sent Corey down there by himself, so I think we all know what’s about to happen here. Corey is given an expository line, “The cat knows the food is poisoned!”, just to get that plot thread wrapped up. He pulls his gun (why now, all of the sudden?) and pokes around.

Unsurprisingly, he soon gets ‘surprised’ by the puppetty beastie. He begin firing wildly, shooting a hole in the side of the boat. Then he apparently hits a steam pipe, which lets loose with a unrealistically gigantic burst of steam. (It’s not helping that this ‘effect’ is created with what looks to be a big cloud of talcum powder.) We next see Corey fall with his face all scarred, presumably scalded by the ‘steam’. Or maybe he was mauled by the cat. Or whatever. Who cares?

OK, now we really have to get into the physiognomy of the monster. I don’t really want to, but we see a clear shot here that makes it unavoidable. Now, I’ve seen this film at least three times before, but I never really paid attention to this bit, I guess. Anyway, we see what I would call the ‘rat puppet’ now climb entirely back into the comatose cat puppet. (Little lights are used in the cat puppet’s eyes to imply it’s return to consciousness.)

Now, I always took it that the ‘rat puppet’ emerged partly from the ‘cat puppet’ and then attacked from there. Instead, apparently, the rat puppet is supposed to be a mutant cat (puppet) that lives inside the regular cat. When provoked, the mutant cat leaves the body as a separate entity, attacks, and then climbs back inside the cat. There are major problems with this concept, though (which is why I never picked up on this.)

First, the reason I always assumed that the mutant part was supposed to be a rat instead of a mutated cat was that, first, it looked more like a rat, but second, and more importantly, it was small enough to climb out through the host cat’s mouth. The thing is, though, that whenever the ‘mutant cat’ puppet is used in an ‘attack’ scene, it’s pretty clear just as big as the host cat (actually, I’m being kind here – it’s larger).

This means that rather than a rat which emerges and somehow controls the cat’s body to attack, that a parasite mutant cat lives inside the regular, nice kitty (which for some reason ceases to function when the mutant cat is outside of it). But the hard part to buy is that for this to work, it must literally be able to alter it’s size at will, shrinking so as to enter and leave the host body, and then growing larger to full size when attacking.

It would be like if The Incredible Hulk, as a separate entity, lived in Bruce Banner’s body. He would somehow climb out of Banner’s mouth when provoked (leaving Banner comatose), grow to full size to take care of business, and then would shrink and reenter Banner’s mouth when finished, bringing Banner back to consciousness. Obviously, this doesn’t work. Moreover, the film doesn’t help by ignoring the problem and making us figure it out on our own.

Now, in a way, the ‘parasite’ idea actually makes the ending of the movie (and yes, there is such a thing) make more sense. But why not simply have the cat transform? Like I said, I saw this movie probably four times before I really got what’s supposed to be happening here, and three times in the company of a friend with his own impressive Bad Sci-Fi Movie background. I’d like to think that I’m not an idiot, and I know my friend isn’t. Yet we never really pieced it together, I think because the size element makes so little sense.

Anyway, we rejoin our diminishing cast as they bury Corey at sea. Graham starts freaking out and begins unlimbering the lifeboat, but Rachel convinces him that he’d die before getting to land. Their only hope, she says, is to get the engine working and hope they get spotted. This is undoubtedly meant to provide an answer to anyone in the audience wondering why they don’t simply get away from the monster besieged boat. However, then you have to ignore the fact that the ending of the movie contradicts what Rachel said here.

The next plot point shows us that cat has gotten into the food supply (such as it is). Now all the food is contaminated. Oddly, while this scene shows us a clawed up corn flake box (along with a box of pancake mix), it’s a yellow box, quite different from the white Kellogg’s box we saw earlier. I suppose that it’s possible that they had more than one box of corn flakes on board, but different brands?

Oh, and much is made of the fact that the larder was lined with metal (although it only looks like a thin layer of aluminum), implying again that the mutant cat has some level of super strength. (As well as the ability to suck the very life energy out of a human body. I know, it’s happened to me every time I’ve watched this movie.)

Graham reacts with anger at the news. However, the (currently) fatalistic Suzanne, lounging on a sofa, speaks for the entire audience when she notes “Oh, god, who cares?” (Right on, sister!) Still, though, this calm proves to be temporary. Martin soon catches the again wigged-out Suzanne in the kitchen, searching for food. He again warns her that the food is contaminated, and locks up the pantry.

Rachel later goes up on deck and finds Suzanne and Graham goofing off. She gets in minor tussle with Graham, and ends up dropping her keys on the deck. Suzanne, now pretty much cracked, grabs them and heads down to the kitchen. She unlocks the pantry, and finds the cat in its non-puppet form. The cat seems non-threatening, though, and she eats a tiny sliver of bread crust. This, of course, results in the usual air bladder and squirting stage blood display, and we’re down one more annoying character.

Anyway, after boring our asses off for the first eighty minutes of the picture, we’re now in that ‘the movie’s almost over, we’d better start speeding things up’ portion of the film. We first cut to what has got to be the single worst toy boat ‘miniature’ that I’ve ever seen. And as you might suspect, I’ve seen more than my share of such in my time. I mean, this thing is utterly ridiculous. The fact that they’ve cut in numerous shots of the real boat as transition footage throughout the film only makes it even more obvious.

Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat!

This toy, floating around in a swimming pool somewhere, is then highlighted by a matted in flash of lightning. This is to let us know that the ‘big storm,’ mentioned in one line about an hour ago and then ignored ’til now, is finally upon us. Inside the engine room, our remaining threesome is examining some large leaks in the hull. These were presumably the result of Corey’s bullets from the earlier scene, much enlarged (in a suspiciously perfect round configuration) by water pressure.

Now here’s my problem. We saw them bury Corey’s body at sea. This means that they found him where he died, in the engine room. So, what, they discover his body and decided that wrapping him in a sheet and tossing him overboard would take precedence over fixing the leaks he punctured in the hull? I mean, they’re acting like they just found them, but I really find it hard, in fact quite impossible, to believe that they didn’t notice water spraying into the engine room from two different points when they stumbled onto his corpse.

So we immediately cut to Rachel and Martin lowering the lifeboat. (One thing I can’t help noticing is that they don’t toss any containers they can use to catch rainwater in into the boat.) Graham, meanwhile, is in his waterlogged room, grabbing his cash reserves. Now, the three cases would be, at worst, a little awkward to carry all at the same time. So the fact that Graham grabs two, takes them topside and tosses them into the lifeboat, and then reenters the lower decks of the sinking yacht is impossible to buy. This is a classic IITS (‘It’s in the Script’) moment.

Graham makes his way through the chest high water back into his stateroom. Whereupon he finds (of course) the cat standing right next to the last briefcase. (How do they always know?) Now, no matter how greedy the guy is, you’d think he’d head back out the door and lock the cat in the room, trapping it to drown. Instead, of course, he goes for the briefcase, and quickly ends up puppet chow.

We also get a shot of Graham struggling with the cat in bloodied water as spilled money swirls by. I guess this is supposed to be ironic. Or something. (Continuity Error fans will note that there’s a quick shot of the mutant cat rising up from bloody water, despite the fact that it hasn’t, at that point, reached and attacked Graham yet.)

The noble Martin runs down to check on Graham (Rachel takes a ‘screw him’ attitude, which seems more warranted.) Finding the mutilated body, he heads back up. Rachel has the boat in the water (this segment of the film, of course, is shot in a patently obvious water tank), and he jumps and swims for it. (I can’t help noticing that the lifeboat for this well appointed yacht doesn’t come equipped with a motor. I mean, would this hurt?)

We get another good (if that’s the word) look at the toy boat prop as it ‘sinks.’ Despite the fact that it’s been shown as full of water, it’s still riding high on the waves. I think they just punched a hole in the rear of the model and let it go under. Actually, they might not even have done that. All we really see is the aft of the boat under a bit of water, with the rest of it pointing up. So it’s possible that they just used a bit of wire, or even an underwater hand, to pull a part of the model (an all too generous term) down, filmed it for two seconds, and then allowed it buoy back up.

With nothing better to do, and probably embarrassed by the toy boat, Martin decides to check out the briefcase. (Is it at all believable that a shady dude like Graham would carry around a million dollars in a briefcase that doesn’t even sport a lock?) Both he and Rachel seem rather pleased to find it contains loot, and pretty much just assume that it’s now rightfully theirs.

Now we get to the film’s final really funny sequence. A startled Martin yells and points out an angry, wet puppet trying to climb into the boat. Luckily, this is awkward for the beastie, as he’s got an entire arm (well, an entire person, actually) sticking out of his butt. Here Martin benefits from the Hero’s Death Battle Exemption™, which stipulates that a film’s monster will have to spend at least ten times the amount of time it took to kill any other character in killing the hero (or his girlfriend).

This means that Martin is (somehow) able to hold the cat away from his body without getting bitten or clawed. Rachel (actually breaking the rule that a girl shouldn’t do anything but scream while her man is being assaulted) then manages to knock it out of the boat. Martin hugs her, then points again to the same spot of the boat and shouts out the inexplicably hilarious line “Oh, Rachel, it’s not over yet!”

Sure enough, the cat again boards the boat and again jumps at Martin, who again catches the cat in midair in such a way that he can hold it without being bitten or scratched. Martin notes that the cat won’t leave them alone because there’s nothing else afloat for it to ride the storm out. (Apparently the yacht went down without leaving behind any debris. Sure.) They decide to throw the cash from one of the cases into a convenient zippered tote bag and then toss the case to the cat, giving it something to float around on. This plan works.

This leads me to ask the following questions: First, where the heck did they get a tote bag, of all things? Second, given the circumstances, wouldn’t you dump the case out into the boat, toss the cat the case, and then stow away the money? Third, why would a metal briefcase float? Fourth, could even a cat hang on the polished surface of a metal case, especially one rain slicked by a raging storm?

Cut to a Caribbean island (despite the fact that Rachel had informed Graham earlier in the movie that there was no way he could reach land before dying in the life boat). Rachel and Martin are being questioned by an officer of some sort. Yeah, you’d think so, given that they washed up alive from a ship that over half a dozen other people died on, including a famous billionaire.

The bad of money is laying on the officer’s desk, unopened. This is supposed to be ‘suspenseful,’ I think, because if he opens it, the very least that will happen is that our leads will fail to get the money (which is in no way theirs, after all). Of course, the fact that the officer does fail to open the bag seems rather odd, especially as they’ve apparently tried to feed him the ‘mutant poisonous cat’ story (and despite the fact that drug smuggling is fairly common down there).

Also, where’s the SEC? Don’t you think the U.S. government is going to want to discuss the ‘disappearance’ of the man who presumably bilked investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars? Chances are, they’re going to want to know where Graham and his stolen funds are. (Well, actually, two million dollars worth is in the hot clutches of our ‘heroes.’)

Anyway, there’s a ‘ticklish’ moment when the officer picks up the bag, but he only does so so as to hand it back to them. I also find it odd that the bricks of cash inside fail to make any imprints through the thin nylon material of the bag. Still, in the interest of finishing the movie I’m willing to ignore it. Martin and Rachel exchange smug ‘hey, we got away with it’ looks (gee, that’s not going to alert the guy) and leave his office.

Finally, we cut to a beach for our ‘teaser’ ending. Tracking across the sand, we see the washed-up briefcase, and then a cat. A black cat, mind you, that looks nothing like the tabby cat we’ve seen throughout the movie. Now, if this thing is supposed to be a parasite, it might have entered another cat (what that cat was doing wandering around the beach is another question).

Remember, however, that it took me at least four viewings to come up with that theory. Which means that it’s entirely possible that have I put more thought into the situation than the screenwriter did. On at least three separate viewings (over maybe six or seven years, I mean, we’re not complete idiots) both I and fellow Bad Movie aficionado Andrew Muchony laughed at this scene, trying to figure out if the film was trying to imply that the cat could just spontaneously change color.

In any case, this whole situation represents a major violation of Ken and Andrew’s Rule of Plot Holes™, which stipulates that if a viewer must spend time constructing an elaborate theory to explain the events in a movie, then somebody’s not doing their job.

The final shots of the film feature a kid finding and picking up the cat. (In an amazing coincidence, we see in the credits that the kid playing the, uh, kid, sports the same last name as screenwriter/director Greydon Clark). This leads to an ‘ominous’ freeze frame shot of the kid and the cat. Amazingly, we’re spared a scene where a bully comes up and kicks sand in the kid’s face, only to fall prey to the cat. Instead, blissfully, it’s…The End.

  • derrick

    I saw this film years ago and it still haunts me.
    Your write up brought back some dark memories. It is absolutely the worst film I have ever sat through.

  • P Stroud

    For those who may be interested this movie is in one of those “50 Chilling Tales” sets of public domain movies you can get on Amazon, etc. I don’t remember which set it is exactly. Maybe “Nightmare Worlds”. Anyhow the lousy transfers (all from video and in 1.33:1) kind of add to the badness inherent in the first place. Theses sets are usually under $15 used and have other Jabootu-worthy fare as well.

    I feel sorry for Ken putting all that work into critiquing this one. I appreciate it, but it hardly seems worth it since you can see others of the same level of bland badness almost any night on the SyFy channel. It just didn’t seem to reach the awesome heights of true Jabootuism like the Jabootu inspired classics “Body of Evidence” and (shudder) “Sweet November”. This was released in 1988 and I think that Jabootu was fully engaged back then guiding other cinematic turkeys like “Rambo III”, “Poltergeist III”, “Short Circuit II”, “Arthur II:On The Rocks”, “Bloodsport”, “Beaches”…. wow! Our horned Demigod was really busy that year.

  • GREMLINS1957

    Uninvited is the interesting horror movie. ‘Uninvited 2’ through ‘Uninvited 6’ sequels would be really great idea.

  • Ericb

    I disagree I find these articles incredibly biased against Jabootuists and Jabootuism. Anti-Jabootuite bastard.

  • Beckoning Chasm

    I just watched this while at the gym, and I was wondering during the “the food is all contaminated and so we have to make do with corn flakes” scene why they didn’t try fishing to replenish the food supply.  Of course, that’s a stupid idea–why would anyone have any fishing equipment on a boat?  There probably wouldn’t be any room for it on a boat like that.

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