THE NIGHT OF
A THOUSAND CATS
(aka BLOOD FEAST)
(1974), 63 minutes
distributed by Trans-International Films
This is a hilariously lame, preposterous horror film, from one of our favorite directors, Rene Cardona Jr. The whole concept is banal to the point of satire, and the film wrecks even its own primitive suppositions. The film appears to have been filmed with dialogue spoken in English, but lucky for us, it is badly redubbed anyway.
The two main characters have no names, only the peripheral ones. Kind of existential… The influence of pop-art and “mod” secret agent movies of the 60s is apparent, from the quick cutting to the hipster atmosphere to the frantic zooms to the groovy costuming to Raul Lavista’s bouncy jazz score.
The title cats, trapped in a dingy wire-mesh cage, look more sad than psychotic, although their (dubbed) cries are somewhat unnerving, sounding like a distorted repeating loop of a kindergarten at potty time.
The playboy Hugo is a ridiculous hybrid of Hugh Hefner and a psychotic wild game hunter. He’s such a creepy, predatory asshole. Can you say “Stalker”? The whole logic of Hugo’s being able to fly around in his helicopter, looking for sexy chicks in everybody’s back yards, is absolutely ridiculous. (Alotta people seem to hate all the aerial shots as Hugo flies his victims back to his lair, but they’re fine, quite harmless, and add to the overall idiocy quite well.)
Hugo’s opulent mansion/monastery is obviously a leftover castle set from a better production. He drinks warm brandy out of huge tumblers, and smokes hashish from his large collection of exotic opium pipes.
His flunkie, “Dorgo” (Tor meets Gorgo?) is a hulking pastiche of a retarded hippie doofus mobster. The “Heads” in glass cubes are terrible wax mock-ups, and wouldn’t fool a flea. And if Hugo’s victims are fed to his “ravenous” cats, what then are in the huge trash bags Dorgo stuffs in the furnace? The subplot with the little girl makes no sense whatsoever. The final attack on Hugo by his turncoat cats is silly and muddled, a perfect non-ending to a perfect non-movie.
And poor Anjanette Comer! How far a fall from the lovely and spooky Miss Thanatogunos of THE LOVED ONE, to sexy bimbo in a nothing horror film from nowhere! Still, amazingly, she gives this shameful role her best shot. It’s fun to see her drive off in her late-model Chrysler New Yorker, while hubby speeds away in a Ford Mustang!
There is some light nudity at the beginning of the film, and later, a surprisingly risque scene when Hugo’s dream blond is running away from Dorgo. She hops into camera and shows us a big slo-mo close-up of her panty hose-clad rump, very silly and very provocative.
This stunningly short and stupid feature has so little going for it as a bonafide horror or suspense film, yet so much perversely and charmingly wrong with it, its quite enchanting, and one can imagine squirming at a hot Florida drive-in, wondering if one could get one’s money back for such an impossibly doofy cheat of a movie. Then, it was likely torture. Now, it is surely exquisite high-art trash.
* Taglines: “Alone, only a harmless pet… One thousand strong, they become a man-eating machine!” “When The Cats Are Hungry… Run For Your Lives!”
* NOTTC was first released in the US in 1973 as BLOOD FEAST. Murray leased it in 1974, possibly to run as the bottom of a double bill with his last, great original production, THUNDER COUNTY. THUNDER COUNTRY was picked up for further distribution by Joesph Brenner Associates.
* At virtually the same time as this pathetic psycho-pussy debacle, Cardona and Co. also made LA HORRIPLANTE BESTIA HUMANA (1968) a wild, gory, color remake of Cardona’s own classic LAS LUCHADORAS CONTRA EL MEDICO ASESINO/aka DOCTOR OF DOOM (1962), which Murray protege Jerald Intrator picked up and released in the US as NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES in the early 70s, on a trippy double bill with FEAST OF FLESH/aka DEADLY ORGAN, to huge success. One wonders whether Murray was offered the superior film and turned it down. The latter double bill might have put him back on track.