Yeah, I know I threw some of you yesterday when I said I was going to do a follow-up to that post on Saturday, which is usually when I post the Double Feature, but that’s because I knew (and y’all didn’t yet) that the DF was moving to Friday.
So, the way the Double Feature usually works is that I pick a movie that’s opening this weekend and pair it up with a movie from the past (I like to generally go 80s or before, but that’s variable, especially now that we’ve moved into 2020 which means that even movies that came out before 2000 are older than this year’s crop of college freshmen) that relates to it in some way. It could be thematically, it could be an actor or director, it could even just be something that the title reminds me of. The main point is just to hopefully introduce some folks to movies that they may not know about or perhaps just re-contextualize things a bit.
But, here’s the thing. January is pretty well known as a dumping ground for the studios. They’ve saturated the market with their Oscar hopefuls, trying to get them qualified with December screenings, and at the same and at the same time they’ve dropped the last of their blockbusters trying to get all the folks bored with their families and the holidays or who have extra time off into the theaters to get that nice big year-end boost of cash. So that doesn’t leave much for January, and this year is starting off as no exception, with the only movie opening wide this week being the latest take on The Grudge, and honestly, that just left me kind of uninspired.
So, I seriously considered just skipping this week and re-starting the column next week until I realized that there was a big flick that came out recently that I hadn’t done a column on, and once i gave it a little thought, i realized that I knew the absolute perfect film to pair it with.
Which brings us to… Cats. Yeah, the nightmare musical. The CGI monstrosity that should never have been made (or at least not made this way). Okay, yeah, I know it’s got singing cockroaches with human faces, and you might think that would redeem it some, but in the end even that can’t save it.
It wasn’t until I was listening to somebody talk about the “plot” of this movie that it occurred to me that it was… extremely familiar.
Okay, so the way I understand it, the main “story” of Cats is that each year, this particular group of “jelly-bowl cats” has to get together and perform a song and dance routine to introduce themselves to the group (even though they do this every year) and to try to please the main high-father cat, Old Dootybooty, and if they do, then they get to… umm… die and go to the afterlife? live and go to the afterlife? eat a can of Afterlife Flavored 9 Lives cat food? I dunno, but apparently it’s something that they all want to do even if they’re only on, say, life three of their supposed nine.
Maybe it’s one of those karmic reincarnation things where actually having nine lives is a punishment and they’re supposed to be learning from each one, and once they hit the 9th they’re stuck unless Ol’ Geteroffame says they’re worthy? But only one gets chosen each year, so what happens to the ones already on their ninth that die before the next round of Jenitals Got Talent?
Oh! I gt it now! That’s where the roaches come from! Okay, see all you unbelievers out there? It does make perfect sense after all!
Anyway, like I was saying, I was listening to someone describe this and it suddenly struck me that I had seen this exact same plot before. A group of creatures gets together, has to perform for their king, and if they please him enough, they get to move on to the afterlife?
Yeah, I know that movie.
Ed Wood Jr. made it 54 years ago.
Only he called it Orgy of the Dead.
Oh, and instead of filling his movie with some kind of hybrid (or possibly inbred) cat creatures from outer space, he filled it with women from the local burlesque show who strip down to their panties and don’t even try to sing – they just have to do an interpretive dance that relates to who they were in life.
Other than that, and the fact that the person they are dancing for is the “King of the Night” (played with his usual gusto by Wood regular Criswell) and instead of cats, the ones looking to move on to a more positive afterlife are the spirits of the dead who killed their lovers or committed other crimes, meaning their motivation actually makes more sense than what we are given in the “respectable” movie, it’s almost exactly the same “plot”.
Oh, and Wood also inserts a slight subplot about a writer’s-blocked author and his wife who are driving at night, have a wreck, stumble upon the proceedings, are eventually discovered, are then forced to watch, and are threatened with being dispatched before the end of the night, meaning there’s actually some extra tension beyond just who can give the king a boner worthy of the afterlife (and apparently I could be talking quite literally about either movie here, since that’s what they both seem to boil down to).
Oh, and did I happen to mention that Wood throws in a mummy and a werewolf and a Vampira knockoff just for good measure?
And that nobody has to eat tap-dancing cockroaches? (Yes, that’s really what happens… apparently Rebel Wilson strips out of her fur (?!?!) and eats them before they can get away!)
And that Wood even has a dancer that starts out (for reasons I can’t remember at the moment) in a cat costume that is far less disturbing than anything in the newer movie?
Anyway, I know that there are those horror movie fans out there that will opt for the most terrifying thing they can find in to watch, and for you guys it’s going to be a tough choice between Cats and The Grudge, but for me, well the choice of what to watch seems quite obvious.
Here’s your very NSFW trailer: