The Uninvited ~ 1988, Greydon Clark
The Uninvited has got to have one of the most bizarre monsters I’ve ever seen. It’s not bizarre in a creative or interesting way, it’s bizarre in a “But why?” kind of way. Like, really- why? This is an unnecessary monster.
And there it is.
So, let’s talk about this monster a bit before we dive into The Uninvited; what we have here is a house cat, which has been biologically experimented upon. It is a fluffy, orange cat, it’s pretty cute, actually. Now, this cat, when it feels so inclined, opens up its mouth, and a small creature, vaguely catlike itself, crawls out. Upon leaving the mouth, this creature is suddenly the approximate size of the original cat, maybe bigger. It looks like a cat, but ugly, angry, and leathery, not so fluffy. And it kills people and is venomous. This weird creature then crawls back into the cats mouth, and people are none the wiser. The perfect crime. Purrr-fect crime? No, I won’t let this be that kind of blog…
So, is this creature “wearing” the cat, like that giant bug did with Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black? Or, is this a symbiotic relationship? None of that’s really touched upon, but what we have here is an elaborate attempt at making a cute little cat into a terrifying monster, and you should not be surprised to learn that this was not a success. Also, couldn’t you have just, like, Jekyll and Hyde’ed the cat into a monster? This whole “crawling in and out of the mouth” thing feels onerous and weird. It’s too late to have that conversation with writer/director Greydon Clark, though, because this damn movie is almost thirty years old at this point. These are sins we cannot erase. We have to live with them everyday.
THE PLOT~ Shady Wall Street tycoon and all out bad guy Walter Graham (Alex Cord) takes to sea aboard his luxury yacht, along with his aged and lovable, yet intimidating goons Mike (George Kennedy) and Albert (Clu Gulager), for a jaunty cruise down to some crooked island nation where he can duck the Feds, who totally know he’s up to some dark, immoral shit. Before taking to the sea, he recruits some fine honeys to add to his maritime bacchanal of decadent pleasures, and plus because that way he’s not just hanging out with two white guys in their sixties the whole time. Good idea, bro! (fist bump) The girls instantly spoil everything for Walter by inviting along three douche bags they met at the marina, as well as a murderous, biologically mutated nightmare cat, which would slowly kill the shit out of each and every one of them as they drift aimlessly through the ocean and begin to lose their very sanity. Spoiler alert? That’s what happens. They all get on the boat, the damn thing breaks down, cats killin’ people, people freak out, power struggle, Clu Gulager get’s drunk, whatever. Roll credits.
The movie ends with a pretty heavy-handed moral illustration. As the yacht begins to sink, our two survivors are aboard a lifeboat, along with three briefcases, each containing one million dollars in cash. As they try to get away from the capsizing vessel, the menacing, no longer fluffy murdercat hops into their boat again and again, and again. They keep tossing him out, but he just keeps jumping back in. They conclude that, because there are no other floating objects for this cat to climb onto, he will never grow tired of leaping out of the sea and into their small lifeboat. In a stroke of overt preachiness, our characters toss one of the briefcases out into the water, where lo and behold, it floats, and Murdercat climbs onto it, allowing them to row away to safety. Oh, gee, so, our insatiable desire for wealth leads us to a gruesome end, and only by letting go of this can we live prosperously. Trying to teach us a lesson, movie? Shut up, Greydon Clark, we’re all poor now. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a living wage in this country!? I’d keep every one of those briefcases and bite that damn Murdercat right back, right on his damn cat snout. “Forget it, Murdercat, I’m tired of retail!” Toss his ass into the ocean.
But I digress….There are a lot of laughs to be had at this movie’s expense. The production is on the shabby end of passable, and frequent fumbles, especially with the audio and the monster effects, stand out. They had like, four cat noises, and they just play them over, and over, and over, often when the cat doesn’t even seem to be around. Then, when we do see the cat, he is sometimes very visibly a puppet, in a big way. It’s kind of awesome.
If we were going to look at this as a real, live movie and NOT an overly long, hilarious cat video, it would be important to point out that a major problem with the film is that the only likable characters in it are the bad guys, far and away. Specifically, Clu Gulager and George Kennedy. These two are great, as always. On the other end of the spectrum, our six college aged characters are unlikable and without worth to us. There is no reason at all to root for their survival, and you won’t. Hell, the cat is more likeable, and it’s straight venomous. That’s a formula for a hilarious Murdercat comedy adventure, but not for a tense, horrific drama/morality tale on the open seas, so the value of The Uninvited as a piece of work is dependent upon which of these two things you want it to be. I think Gradyon Clark wanted it to be the latter, and Greydon, baby, I’m sorry to break it to you; it’s not.