I'm a big fan of Halloween which these days is the whole month of October! It also feels like International Black Cat Appreciation Month! So in honour of cat actors of the past few decades, this Halloween here's my top selection of horror films which feature our feline friends being (or trying to be) evil.
Fingers and paws crossed that your kitty doesn't get any ideas from number 1. Happy Halloween!
1. HOUSE (1977)
This cult Japanese horror will take you on a wild and surreal rollercoaster ride, leaving you giddy and baffled in equal measure! Beautifully shot and filled with bizarre twists and turns with some very trippy scenes to boot - think severed fingers playing the piano and a decapitated head floating on its own accord out of a well. The cat star in this fantasy horror is a white Persian called Blanche who becomes a supernatural force that wreaks havoc in the closing scenes. Look away for a second and you'll miss something weird and wonderful. House is a true original - in fact, I know I haven't seen anything quite like it before.
2. THE BLACK CAT (1934)
This early Hollywood film is a bizarre, haunting, and rather eerie film which seems surprisingly morbid and perverse for its time. Some critics consider The Black Cat to be the first American psychological horror film, with dark sexual repression, twisted relationships, and aberrant behaviour, Satanism, mass orgies, incest...the list goes on!
3. THE CAT PEOPLE (1942)
Also featuring a fair dose of sexual symbolism and erotic overtones, Cat People is about a beautiful Serbian fashion designer who is haunted by the believe of an ancient curse; that whenever she becomes sexually aroused she will turn into a panther and kill. This is a stylish and mysterious thriller, beautifully shot and filled with suspense: a 40s classic!
4. THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964)
Roger Corman and Vincent Price join forces in Edgar Allan Poe's terrifying tale of possession, passion and purrfect evil! When a dead wife comes back to life in the form of a ferocious black cat - she leads her husband's new bride on a terrifying game of cat and mouse.
5. THE UNCANNY (1977)
"Cats aren't always cute and cuddly" In The Uncanny cats are apparently the most fiendish, fascinating and terrifying creatures of all and, what's worse, they live in your home! Horror writer Wilbur Gray stumbles upon the terrible secret that cats are supernatural creatures and devils in disguise. In a desperate attempt to get people to believe him, Gray tells three 'blood curdling' tales of feline horror.
6. CAT'S EYE (1985)
Three horror-thriller tales by Stephen King revolve around a mysterious stray cat who comes to protect a little girl (Barrymore) from a tiny, evil troll who lives behind the skirting board in her bedroom. Proving that cats don't always have to be terrifying demons or witches in disguise in horror films. That hideous troll has to be far more terrifying than any cat!
7. PET SEMATARY (1989)
Another tale of horror from Stephen King, the Master of Macabre, Pet Sematary is a film about a young family that uncovers a dark secret near their new house. When the Creed's cat, (British Shorthair, Church) is accidentally killed on the road, their mysterious neighbour advises them to bury it in the ground near the old pet cemetery. The cat comes back to life, but its personality is changed for the worse and the Creed's new start is turned into a nightmare.
8. STRAYS (1991)
This early 90s offering is a total CAT-astrophe (ahem!) but worth a watch for comedy value. A young family move into a new house where they are tormented by an evil gang of felines who don't want them encroaching on their territory. Here's a (cripplingly terrifying) scene of a load of cats jumping on a man.
9. THE CAT WITH HANDS (2001)
Deliciously dark and surreal, "The Cat with Hands" is my all time favourite. This blood-curdling short film focusses on an old man recounting a folk tale about a cat that has human hands in place of his front paws! Beautifully shot and exceedingly creepy, Written, directed and animated by Robert Morgan.
10. ALIEN (1979)
I love the dogged and determined interstellar survival skills of Ellen Ripley (played by the admirable Sigourney Weaver). She truly sets the standard for female protagonists for generations to come. Really though, the starring role goes to the ginger American Shorthair tomcat, Jonsey. There's a wonderful scene where Jonesy faces the Alien head-on which is scared off by the formidable kitty. How's that for a fierce feline! This chief mouser has inspired fans of sci-fi and horror films so much; someone has written a book on his adventures!
11. HOCUS POCUS (1993)
And how could I make a list of cat horror films without mentioning the legendary black cat, Thackery Binx? This human-transformed-into-familiar-feline is a loveable rogue in Hocus Pocus. He has the chutzpah and get up and go attitude to endure being cooked in a hessian sack and even being flattened by a bus wheel! What makes this extra special is the animatronic head they use for Binx's talking scenes - it really brings him to life (pun absolutely intended).
Have you seen any of these films? Let us know your favourites or any you feel are missing from this list!
12. BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE (1958)
This 1950’s classic is a must for all cat lovers and their feline fur-miliars. Kim Novak plays the modern day witch, Gillian Holroyd, intrigued by her new neighbour Shep (James Stewart). When he visits her African modern art store one day, nothing is ever the same again for dear old Shep.
Don’t miss our favourite scene (we've included it below!) where Novak casts a spell with her on screen cat, Pyewacket, a name taken from the cat of a woman accused of witch craft in the 17th century. Reportedly the cat who played Pyewacket in the film was given to Novak by his owner, the animal trainer Frank Inn, once he had seen what a close bond she had formed with him.