THE NIGHT OF A THOUSAND CATS [La Noche de Los Mil Gatos] (1972).
When I'm asked "What's the worst film ever made about killer felines?" (a question that pops up all the time, needless to say), the first answer used to be Ted V. Mikels' THE CORPSE GRINDERS. But not any longer. Not after viewing this Mexican mess, because this south-of-theboredom snooze-fest wins bottom-of-the-barrel honors. Even the title is idiotic... Hugo Stiglitz stars as a suave playboy-type who woos the ladies and always ends up taking his latest conquest back to his secluded castle, complete with a mute, Tor Johnson-lookalike servant (kudos to Gerardo Cepada for being the only one in the cast who looks like he's having fun). When we first meet him, he's showing off his dank mansion to an expendable blond bimbo, and you know there's going to be trouble when Hugo gets a maniacal glimmer in his eyes and begins spouting off about his unique "collection". Of course, she doesn't suspect a thing (obviously, she hasn't read the title of the movie she's trapped in), but soon the secret is out! Hugo has a huge indoor cage crammed with noisy cats, which are fed with the freshly ground-up hunks of his lovely ladies. To make matters sillier, Hugo also keeps his victims' pickled, very rubbery looking heads in glass cases. When Hugo isn't at home with his human hungry pets, he likes to hover above sun-bathing beauties in his helicopter and annoy them with his peeping tom routine. Along the way he meets up with Anjanette Comer (popping up after a few American duds), and the whole production limps along at a snail's pace -- taking itself all to seriously, even during the climactic 'cat attack', where some off-screen cat-wrangler heaves the bewildered pussies through the air and into the camera. A lot of CATS is pretty ludicrous (if you couldn't guess), but the inherent silliness of the situation is often lost by the somnambulistic tone of the whole production -- it's low on violence. gore, excitement, and basic entertainment value. What it does have in abundance is lethargic performances, bikini-clad non-actresses, and hideous early-'70s fashions, such as bell-bottom stretch-pants and leather hip boots. Sure, some of the film's continuity problems could be from the fact it was hacked by 20 minutes when it was snuck through Customs; but even at seventy minutes long, it's padded to the sprockets with travelogue footage and endless shots of Hugo flying his chopper. The only positive thing I can say is that it's miles ahead of Cardona Jr.'s later cash-in exposes, such as SURVIVE, TINTORERA and GUYANA, CULT OF THE DAMNED (all featuring Mr. One-Note-Performance himself, Hugo Stiglitz). You can give me one of his dad's flicks instead anytime, such as the immortal WRESTLING WOMEN VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY. Now that's real film-making!
© 1990 by Steven Puchalski.