Uninvited (1988) – By Jonathon Pernisek

Cats, especially those of the orange and fluffy variety, are not inherently scary when put on film. However, Greydon Clark was determined to make a film that would secure a place in our nightmares for the household feline. Uninvited, which Clark not only directed, wrote, and produced but also appeared in as an uncredited role, is the result of his work…and boy is it stupid. Often dull, obvious, and pandering, this is one of the dopiest videos I’ve ever bought, its saving grace being the fact it features a mutated demon/cat. More on this in a bit, but to put it simply, it’s a hopelessly stupid yet oddly endearing effect only a crew with a shoestring budget could create.

The movie begins in one of those top-secret government labs you hear about so much, where two scientist-type guys are wrangling with a precious kitty. Just as they’re about to inject some unknown substance into the little guy, however, it easily slips out of their hands and makes a run for the border. The scientists immediately sound the alarm, making sure to emphasize how dangerous the escaped cat is if handled without care. Aw, you might think, but it’s just a pwecious wittle…and then the irony shows up.

Just as a bunch of men in radioactive suits show up to detain Mr. Whiskers, the camera zooms in to get a close-up of the mangy fur ball. But it’s no longer a live cat! No, instead we’re looking at what is clearly a cat hand puppet. Completely fake in appearance with not even a hint of an attempt to be otherwise, this foam cat opens up its mouth so a second puppet can slowly wriggle its way out. This second Muppet is a bizarre, satanic kitten of some sorts, and boy is it angry. In the next shot we see chocolate syrup being splattered on the walls accompanied by some human screams, and in a flash the live action cat is back on the move.

Yeah, let’s just take a moment here. I don’t know what the thinking was behind making a puppet the main source of terror in his film, but within five minutes of running time Clark had completely failed to make this movie frightening in any possible way. My friend and I couldn’t help but make references to the classic film Hobgoblins, a movie which also featured puppets being rubbed on unsuspecting actors all in the name of “horror.” The laughs were definitely in abundance, but I’m immensely curious as to how this creature came to be realized.

So after this pre-credits sequence comes, well, the credits, and then the boredom set in almost instantly, I’m afraid. We’re introduced to two scantily clad women who are trying to get into a fancy hotel without a reservation (yawn). They’re invited to stay with the multi-bajillionaire Walter Graham, a man who is recognizably evil because of his pompously large mustache and the grim-faced lackey by his side. Then he invites the girls to attend a party on his yacht, the girls meet a couple of preppy dorks, they decide to tag along for the party, yadda-freaking-yadda, and the boat sets sail at some point. Oh, but there’s an uninvited guest…the cat! Dum-dum-dum!

Mind you, this is a very quick summary. A detailed one would put you in a coma, as the plot is crammed to the point of exploding with raw exposition and stupid character development no one could possibly care about. The kids are annoying, the adults are all evil, and the only two people who survive (whom I picked out real early on because they seemed destined to fall in love) are not so much “good” as “bland.” There’s not a single good thespian on this boat, either. Every emotion and state is played up to the extreme. If someone is drunk, they stumble and slur like crazy. If the character is supposed to loose a few screws, the actor twitches and shrieks like a mental patient. One actor actually rubbed his chin and looked up at the sky just to make sure we knew he was thinking! Thank goodness for the cat, which really spiced up the otherwise fluffy proceedings.

The killings perpetrated by the cat are very entertaining, though often make little sense. One guy gets offed because his arm was numb at the time the cat decided to make it his mid-afternoon snack, but how anyone would not notice the cat itself immediately is beyond me. Then the cat openly attacks another man’s ankle, ripping a shoe apart in front of the rest of the cast in a bloody display. Seconds later, when the man is groaning on the floor, no one can understand how he was wounded. Hello! A psycho-mutant cat tore him to bits! How did you clods not see this? Oy.

In regards to the cat and its psychology, I can only deduce it’s a case of the Incredible Hulk syndrome. Whenever the cat was angered in any way it seemed to lose all sense of itself and became his inner…mutant beast. I guess. Often the cat seemed to kill based on morals, such as when it attacked a mugger who had moments before stolen another man’s pick-up truck. So ya see, the cat isn’t too bad. At least it’s going after the moral degenerates of society. It also killed a drunk, and we all know alcoholism shouldn’t be tolerated.

As a novelty act, Uninvited is a true winner, but prepare yourself for some major tedium whenever the ol’ puss isn’t onscreen. Greydon Clark’s writing and directing skills are somewhere near the bottom of the barrel, and as such his product is often hit-or-miss. But hey, it’s a lot better than Final Justice, one of his other much-maligned flicks, so at least he can put that feather in his cap.