“If you smoke, they’ll see you.”
A stray cat bears witness to three tales of everyday horror: a smoker (James Woods) finds his family’s safety at risk when he joins a strong-arming organization called Quitters, Inc.; a former tennis pro (Robert Hays) is blackmailed by his lover’s gambling husband (Kenneth McMillan) into walking on the ledge of a highrise; and a young girl (Drew Barrymore) is terrorized at night by a breath-stealing troll in her wall.
There seems to be little consensus among critics as to which segment of this Stephen King horror anthology film (directed by Lewis Teague, who also helmed Cujo) is the “best” and which one(s) fall flat; therefore, I’ll simply add my own subjective two cents here by noting that I find the first story (“Quitters, Inc.”) to be the most consistently compelling. James Woods is perfectly cast as a smoker who instantly regrets walking in the door of an anti-smoking organization (run by Alan King) which takes its mission deadly seriously; the dark comedic potential in this set-up is effectively mined. Fortunately, there’s something to enjoy in each of the other two segments as well: it’s impossible not to feel one’s heart in one’s mouth during “The Ledge”, for instance, and I’m impressed by Carlo Rambaldi’s troll in the third segment (the scene in which the troll slowly sucks breath directly out of Barrymore’s sleeping mouth is truly haunting). Best of all, it’s nice to see cats getting such a good rap here — and it should be noted that the multiple tabbies enlisted to “play” the central feline character do an impressive job (at the very least their handler, Karl Lewis Miller, should be applauded!).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The entire first segment (“Quitters, Inc.”)
- Kenneth McMillan as jealous Cressner in “The Ledge”
- Carlo Rambaldi’s special-effects troll in “The General”
No, but horror fans will likely be curious to check it out.