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DVD review: The Uncanny (1977)

Uncanny After my review of The House That Dripped Blood recently, another similar movie dropped through the letterbox - The Uncanny. A Hammer-style horror from 1977 starring Peter Cushing as author Wilbur Gray, trying to convince his publisher that his book of cat stories should be published - so the world will know that cats are evil.

Produced by Milton Subotsky, who also did The House That Dripped Blood, the movie follows the same pattern as that earlier movie, with the set-up, then the short stories (the author's tales) all linked by conversations between Gray and publisher Frank Richards (Ray Milland). And  of course, the big ending.

The first (and best) story (London 1912) is actually quite funny in places  - for all the wrong reasons. An elderly cat-loving spinster changes her will, so all the money goes to the cats and not the nephew. Finding out by way of the woman's maid (Susan Penhaligon), the nephew encourages her to steal the new will from her safe. Caught in the act, the maid suffocates the old woman.

That's not the funny bit obviously - the cats' revenge is. Unfortunately, it's hard to make a cat look angry, so instead we get shots of cats that look like they're waiting for their breakfast (as they probably were - no chance of getting a cat to work on a full stomach) before they attack the maid, flying from all sides (probably thrown by a stagehand), ripping at her with their claws, before she escapes to the kitchen. And when she does eventually venture out, it all gets even more gruesome.

The second story (Quebec 1975) relates to a recently-orphaned girl (and her cat) who go to live with her aunt. The aunt's daughter goes out of her way to pick on the girl and get the cat out of the house - but the cat returns. And with the aid of her dead mum's witchcraft book (that's handy), they get their revenge. Not the best tale and obviously overdubbed, but still worth watching for the twist at the end.

The third tale is set in the 1930s (and titled Hollywood 1936), where a mistake with a film prop sees an accidental death on set - or so it seems. But it's all set up by the hubby (Donald Pleasance) so he can bring in his mistress both into the film and into his bed.  So where's the cat? Well, the deceased wife had one - and it's on a mission to get back at the murderer. And it does, clever thing - in a very unpleasant (pardon the pun) manner,

And the final tale features the author himself. Well, you wouldn't expect the cats to let him get away with a hatchet job would you?

Solid (and well-written) entertainment that should appeal to Cushing and Hammer fans. Unlikely to make many people's top 10 lists, but not a bad way to spend an hour and a half.

Extras on the DVD:

Anglia TV interview with Peter Cushing (1973), Peter Cushing's 80th birthday interview.

Find out more about the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

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