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  • Lured in by an intriguing title and cover art, along with the presence of a couple of my favorite cult actresses (Sybil Danning and Colleen Camp), I watched this tape...and was sorely disappointed.

    This exceptionally muddled thriller focuses on a young man who is convinced that his new stepmother (Sybil Danning), who had been his late mother's nurse, had actually murdered his mother in order to take her place.

    The son's animosity towards his new family member is shared by his pet cat, who constantly hisses and spits in Sybil's presence. At least, that's what the filmmakers would have us fact, it's clear that the cat's hissing and growling are dubbed-in sound effects (the cat's mouth is closed the whole time!). Nothing in the cat's body language suggests hostility (no arched back, no fur standing on end) times, it even seems affectionate towards its supposed nemesis. Even when Sybil is "attacked" by the cat, it's obvious that she's simply holding the indifferent animal up to her face. Now, it's perfectly understandable if the film's budget didn't allow for an animal trainer, but it really shouldn't be too hard to get a cat angry.

    The rest of the performances are little better than the cat's. Sybil Danning has proven capable of delivering memorable performances elsewhere, but her shrill, forced hysterics in this movie are simply embarrassing. Frank DeKova, as Danning's wealthy, easy-going husband, fares the best, but has too little to do before being taken out of the picture. Likewise, the talented Colleen Camp is given nothing to work with in her role as the stepson's concerned girlfriend.

    One final note: One major plot point, the fact that the main character has a brother, is not even mentioned until well over an hour into the movie! Advice to aspiring screenwriters: If you're going to spring a plot twist, you need to lay the foundation much earlier in the movie (just a subtle, casual mention would do) so that it doesn't just seem to come out of nowhere.
  • From his alleged 1963 comedy House of Sand to his latest film, the ultra-low budget horror 1996 Werewolf, the relentlessly self-promoting Iranian auteur Tony Zarindast has garnered an unenviable reputation of being the Ed Wood of our time. Like Wood, Zarindast directs, writes, produces and often stars in his own films. Also like Wood, none of Zarindast's films show even the slightest iota of cinematic competence.

    Cat In The Cage is the turgid story of the dysfunctional Khan family. Bruce Khan gets out of the squirrel factory just in time to greet daddy Rashid and his new wife Susan, returning to the family manse after an around-the-world jaunt. The rest of the story is so amazingly derivative of every B-movie melodrama made before 1950 that the only surprising thing is the film wasn't sued out of existence moments after it hit the theaters.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After the death of his mother Bruce had spent time in the nut-house, but now he's released and returns back to his wealthy family's estate to find out his once family nurse Susan is now married to his father. Bruce doesn't trust Susan, so doesn't his cat Sampson. Susan is plotting the murder of Bruce's father together with the family chauffeur to inherited the family fortune, but what secrets does Bruce bestow which might just get in the way.

    I don't know what to really make of this independent curio as when the end credits started rolling down the screen I was left quite bemused to what had actually transpired. "Cat in a Cage" is such a convoluted jumble (namely the appearance of the dead brother --- as was there some sort of connection with the cat?), that the more you think about what you just saw the less it makes sense and it doesn't lay upon constant twists and turns either. Even devious plotting where plans are set in motion and the idea of playing with the notion that it's all just the figment of the imagination of the slightly disturbed protagonist. Still there's only one real twist, but really it's not much of one because there's no real lead-up or clues to establish it. It's something that just happens. The active story is so ambiguous and inconsistent, as if it was simply made up on the spot where the final resolution is over-the-top and downright baffling. But this is only one of many problems.

    The production is considerably flawed and at times unintentionally humorous, but it's strangely engaging where my main curiosity arose from its two female beauties. Sybil Danning and Colleen Camp suckered me in. The voluptuous Danning is purely hypnotic in her bitchy role, but Camp has more of a secondary part which asks little from her. Still she's quite solid. Oh well she does chip in singing the title song. Outside those two (with the possible exception of Frank DeKova), the other performances fall on the flat, uneven side. Bruce Vaughn in the lead comes across as a wet blanket and Mel Novak is quite stiff.

    Where I got a laugh from was the plot device involving the cat. This cat wasn't supposed to like the new mistress of the house (Danning) with its constant hissing (blatant soundtrack recording used) and scratching. However the cat looked far from threatening when in action… especially when it's attacking Danning's face while she's rolling on the ground holding it to her face. As this is happening Vaughn is on the other side of door laughing crazily. I don't know if it was entirely all in character either. Also there's one sequence which has the cat obviously rubbing itself against Danning in a rather pleasant manner, although I thought the cat couldn't stand her. Certainly no method performance by the cat. Danning's dialogue regarding the feline can become ridiculously hysterical too. These two are simply fighting for the attention. When it tries to be humorous (that is when the police investigation begins with a comical cop) it's lame.

    Director Tony Zarindast pretty much throws caution to the wind, in a steadfast if slow going (although it doesn't feel too padded out) and creaky manner. A little bit of style is evident where the atmosphere is generated in an almost Gothic dark house mystery filled with unyielding passion and cunning murder. However some of the night sequences were poorly lit. The overwrought music score was just as confounding as the plot.

    "Cat in the Cage" is unusually moody, if mundane and bumpy melodramatic thriller.
  • A young man gets out of a mental institution and returns home to his wealthy father, his beloved cat "Sampson", and his sexy but wicked stepmother (Sybil Danning), the latter of whom may have murdered his mother and is scheming with the shady chauffeur (Mel Novak) to do the same to his father.

    God knows this is not a good movie. Nor does it even fall into that almost mythical category of "so bad, it's good", but I found it entertaining because it is so randomly plotted and jaw-droppingly incompetent that it seems to violate the very laws of cinematic narrative structure (and perhaps even Cartesian logic). I think the cat "Sampson" is supposed to be a metaphor because he completely disappears about halfway through the movie. Or maybe the cat is a metaphysical incarnation of the protagonist's equally disturbed brother who shows up out of nowhere halfway through the film (just in time for an overlong 70's style car chase). Or maybe the feline actor just walked off the set prompting a quick re-write--it's kind of hard to say.

    Mel Novak is pretty good actually, and Sybil Danning...well, she takes her clothes off a lot. Both of them exit prematurely, however, and the film is left in the hands of uncharismatic male lead and Colleen Camp, who is normally a talented actress but plays a completely superfluous character here (although she DOES get to belt out the risible theme song). This is definitely a one-of-a-kind movie; maybe not the good kind, but. ..
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Please refer to the other well-reasoned reviews here for the details of this weird effort by unknown filmmaker Tony Zarin Dast. I just have two brief observations. The "surprise" appearance by the protagonist's supposedly-deceased brother would have you believe that he transforms into some sort of were-thing (?). In his two murkily-lensed attacks, he sports extreme facial hair and elongated nails, all the better to slash one of his victims with. In the second killing, he strangles another with a length of chain while grunting and groaning like a wild animal.

    The last observation I have is actually a question...what ever happened to Tony Zarin Dast, where did he come from, where did he get his financing? There are previews at the end of my OOP video for ANOTHER of his films, "The Guns and The Glory" which appears to be an action/adventure about oil wars starring Peter Graves and Cameron Mitchell.