No-name cats, cats of dubious art, monstrous cats

Cats 3: Cats Ripped My Flesh. The previous installments were about the names people choose, or might choose, for their cats:

— Cats 1, my 8/4/22 posting “The Complete Book of Cat Names”, about Bob Eckstein’s new book, with lots and lots of names, arranged in entertaining categories, plus of course Bob’s own cat drawings and cat cartoons

— Cats 2, my 8/5/22 posting “Cats, names, art”, with the names (Russian, Sanskrit, Estonian) of my cats; with Bob’s musings on Roman names for cats, with a side trip to Egypt, and his own cartoon art; and with the Swiss-thread poster by graphic artist Donald Brun depicting Silken Cat.

Earlier (on 7/26), in what I guess I’ll have to call Cats 0, “O tasty Tweety! O Tweety, my prey!”, I looked at a few familiar cartoon cats — all with names, of course — casting a side glance, in the cat Sylvester’s comic attempts to capture and devour the canary Tweety, at the predatory and destructive aspect of cats, including the little Felis catus, which dispatches billions of birds and small mammals.

Meanwhile, on Facebook (on 8/5), cinephile Tim Evanson explored the dark side of cats in pop-cultural art: murderous cats, cats en masse, cats without names, cats in badly made movies. All of these together in Night of a Thousand Cats.

From Wikipedia:

(#1) Blood Feast, also known as La noche de los mil gatos (Night of a Thousand Cats)

… a 1972 Mexican cat horror exploitation film by Mexican writer and director René Cardona Jr. It was released in the United States in 1974 [filmed in Spanish, dubbed in English]

Shock Cinema Magazine deemed Blood Feast possibly “the worst film ever made about killer felines”, and said it was very silly with little entertainment value and bad acting, although still better than Cardona’s later films.

The reviews have an entertainment value that the movie appears to lack entirely (no way that I’m going to try to watch this stinker). The movie apparently exists in a number of cuts, all of them largely incomprehensible, profoundly boring, and woodenly acted. The plot involves an evil fellow who picks out female victims from a helicopter (at least one reviewer thinks that the aerial views of Mexican cities are by far the high points of the movie), kills them, and feeds their flesh to his horde of vicious cats. There’s a side plot involving the madman’s brutish assistant; you will see a horror Ur-plot unfolding here, and yes, it is indeed resolved by the cats turning on their master and eating him.

Then, from the same time period, a creature horror flick of most dubious quality, one that I have, omigod, actually viewed (I came upon it by accident, but I can imagine watching it again). From Wikipedia:

(#2) Night of the Lepus (also known as Rabbits)

… a 1972 American science fiction horror film directed by William F. Claxton and produced by A. C. Lyles. Based upon Russell Braddon’s 1964 science fiction novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit, the plot concerns an infestation of mutated rabbits

… Widely panned by critics for its silly premise, poor direction, stilted acting and bad special effects, the film’s biggest failure is considered to be the inability to make the rabbits seem scary. Night of the Lepus has since gained cult status for its laughably poor quality.

From Facebook, edited and expanded here:

— AZ: but Lepus has a recognizable, more or less coherent, story line, so it is funny rather than stupendously boring.

Hard to make cats scary. (Why, exactly? They’re predatory carnivores.) Hard to make bunnies scary. (They’re serious garden pests, but they’re herbivores.) Alfred Hitchcock made birds scary in 1963, but then he was directing a suspense movie, not a horror movie.

— TE > AZ: there are always snails… :

(#3) The Monster That Challenged the World (1957); note scantily clad woman in the clutches of the monster (some discussion below)

— AZ > TE: And various other things. See the section on “natural horror” flicks in my 7/5/14 posting “Bunnies run amok”, where an extraordinary range of creatures become monstrous and threatening.

The narrative and visual design of these natural horror flicks builds on collection of motifs and themes from the horror and monster genres. If I understand the creature in the marauding snail flick, the visual trope in #3 conveys ferocity and fury, but this is presented visually in sexual terms; the madman in #1, in contrast, really is sexually rapacious. And then in #2, the male figure is serving as the protector and defender of the women against the crazed rabbits.

Monsters, whether creatures or humanoids (vampires, zombies, mummies raised from the dead, werewolves), are inclined to be indiscriminately ferocious; sharks and zombies are inclined to attack anyone who comes in their path. But this indiscriminate ferocity is often presented visually as sexual, as in #3, and in these posters for The Mummy’s Curse (1944) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954):



The visual presentation might be little more than Sex Sells, but it does seem to have become conventional, perhaps through the enormous influence of the 1933 King Kong, where the giant ape is both attracted to and protective of the Fay Wray character:


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