I like terrible and disturbing movies. B, C, and D movies. Schlockumentaries, made for TV movies and drive in monster mayhems. Satantic bikers, beatnik killers, and cannibal surfers. Christian rapture fantasy. Mad artists stabbing up the models and devil children eating the dog. Even the odd big budget production gone totally off the rails. Weirder shit besides. Things I cannot even describe. Things watched in the dead of night. These are the movies I like. I watch a lot of them. Like, a lot. Too many.
And though I have nothing against an ironic enjoyment of things, my interest in these films is not what people call ironic. I just like them. They take risks. Strange risks. You don’t often see a so-called good movie about cyborgs have the cyborg escape to a truckstop and become a professional arm wrestler while he awaits death Sonatine style. That just doesn’t happen in a Hollywood movie. In a B-Movie? It just fucking might.
And I believe these movies are vital in the creation of the so-called great movies. A movie like Alien, for example, doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s just a version of a thing done again and again in B-movies. Alien was just the version where it all worked. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the loss of B-Movies coincided with the rise of constant superhero remakes. The best ideas always came out of the dumpster.
But I do hate ironic versions of these movies. Fucking hate them. Can’t stand Troma. That space channel Sharknado shit can go to hell. About as far as I’ll go into irony with this stuff is John Waters. That guy is alright. He actually gets the shit. He means it. He’s from it. And I don’t mind Mystery Science Theater though I tend to hate a certain strain of its fans who think these movies exist to provide wisecracks. They don’t. Just because they’re not good movies doesn’t mean they’re bad movies. They’re beyond that.
So when I heard that people were shocked and dismayed and even terrified of the Cats movie, I knew I had to see it. Last night, I saw it.
Meh. Or meh-ow.
The movie is crap but it’s not really remarkable crap. If it’s the worst or most disturbing thing you’ve seen, you probably just haven’t seen a lot of terrible or disturbing movies. Like, it’s not even the worst or most disturbing Andrew Lloyd Weber movie currently available on Netflix. And if this nonsense is your bag, I think the Paris Hilton vehicle, Repo: The Genetic Opera is better.
I did like the basic idea behind Cats. In a post-CRISPR London, a cult of human-cat chimeras, the jelico cats, gather for their annual sacrifice. Each cat, apparently unable to formulate original thoughts, can only repeat, like tape-recorders, the poems of T.S. Elliot. They repurpose these poems to pray for the sweet relief of death. But only one of these despicable monsters will be allowed to die upon the altar. Judy Dench judges their pleas for death. She gets to pick the sacrifice. So it’s a solid idea. It’s an okay movie. It’s probably better than Spiderman.
I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. The plot is the steangest and most disturbing thing about the movie but the plot is the same as the hit broadway musical and no one minded then. The CGI is pretty bad but all CGI is pretty bad. This movie looks about the same to me as Black Panther or Ring Lord or whatever. It looks like a videogame. So do a lot of movies. None of them look right.
Is it the sex? It must be the sex. These seem like some horny cats.
But cats are pretty horny.
Maybe people just don’t like how the cat monsters look. You might want to get used to it though. I suspect we’ll be seeing some humans looking a lot like that in thirty years or so. Maybe sooner They’ll probably be pretty horny too. You need to deal with that.
So, aside from its story, it’s a pretty average movie. Why the revulsion? Why the horror?
It might be similar to the initial backlash against Starship Troopers. Cats has achieved by accident what that movie achieved through satire. Accident and satire, bad art and great satire, can do the same thing — make the nuts and bolts obvious. Make the mechanism the point. Become a magic act that shows you how the tricks are done.
Just by getting a few things wrong, the Cats movie just became too blatant. It’s just too obviously what movies are now. People aren’t so much revolted by the film as they are by themselves. Just as in the 80s they wanted fascist action movies without having to admit that these were fascist action movies, now they want Cats but they don’t want to admit that it’s Cats. They want death cult melodramas of half-human, half-animal sex monsters played by celebrities and sold as uplifting tales of triumph and redemption.
On some level, they know that they’ve been watching some version of Cats for almost twenty years. But they were only able to watch and enjoy those movies to the degree they could pretend they were watching something else. But Cats is just the truth of it. It doesn’t let you pretend you’re watching something else. You’re watching Cats. You’ve always been watching Cats. That movie you loved? It was fucking Cats!
People aren’t revolted by Cats. They’re revolted by themselves.
Maybe they should be.
I don’t like to judge.