Plot: Wilbur (Peter Cushing) is an eccentric author who has penned an anthology of macabre tales, all involving cats and according to him, each and every one of the dark stories is true. His potential publisher Frank Richards (Ray Milland) is skeptical of his claim of authenticity, so in order to convince him and secure the publishing deal, Wilbur shares three of the stories in detail. He spins a yarn about a large inheritance left to the beloved cats of the late woman, though the family intends to stake their own claim, if they can contend with the feline menace. Next is a young girl tormented by her cousin and when she is pushed to the brink, she seeks out a supernatural solution, while her trusted cat watches on. Finally, an actor sabotages a film prop to ensure his wife is killed and plans to replace her with his mistress, but the murdered woman’s faithful cat has other plans. Are Wilbur’s stories the truth as he claims and for a man deathly afraid of felines, why did he choose to write about them?
Entertainment Value: I had fun with this anthology of feline horror, as it more than delivers on the promise of murderous cats and keeps a more consistent entertainment level, compared to its omnibus peers. The first story alone is more than worth the price of admission, as we are given a horde of pissed cats that just go bananas in an epic assault on a greed driven family. When a cat closes the door behind a man as he enters a room, then kills the man in cold blood, you know The Uncanny is legit. The second story is a fun one too, simplistic perhaps, but it keeps the middle of the movie brisk and has enough weirdness to stand out. I found the third tale to be the weakest, but it still has a lot to offer and of course, brings more evil from the feline world. I do admit the movie feels dated and old fashioned, but it is never slow paced and takes some odd gambles, so it isn’t a dusty relic, not even close. I think the old fashioned touches add to the movie’s appeal, as The Uncanny has an Amicus or Hammer texture, which I think genre fans will appreciate. I loved how ridiculous the movie can be at times, but it also shows the all too real creepiness of our cat friends, lovable and fluffy, though always willing to feast upon our corpses. I’d recommend The Uncanny to anyone who likes anthologies, animal attack cinema, or old school horror in general.
If you’ve ever wanted to see Peter Cushing as a man terrified of cats, then you’re luck with this one. Cushing gives an interesting performance here, a paranoid and always nervous turn that is fun to watch. Of course, he is only in the bookend story elements, so he isn’t always around, but he makes the most of the scenes he has. He plays well off Ray Milland in those sequences and he is given a good deal of screen time, so this is by no means a small role or cameo appearance. Donald Pleasence is also here and he hams it up in the final tale of cat horror, chewing up scenes as a homicidal actor. His hair is also quite glorious in The Uncanny, so fans of his work should relish the chance to soak in that beautiful sight. The real stars of the movie are of course the cats and they are legion here, being thrown at the performers, lurking around, and putting their razor sharp claws to good use. I don’t know if much acting was required though, since most cats seem to have that built in coldness, which looks so eerie on film. The cast also includes John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, and Susan Penhaligon.
The Disc: Severin Films has issued The Uncanny on Blu-ray, complete with a new scan sourced from a newly uncovered inter-negative. I was impressed by this treatment, as the print looks super clean with minimal debris and the overall sharpness is light years better than any previous version I’ve seen. The image has natural colors and contrast, while detail is quite good, if not eye popping in depth. I have to think fans will be more than satisfied here, as the movie has never looked better on home video. As for extras, we have an interview with Susan Penhaligon that runs over ten minutes, as well as the film’s trailer.