By: BabyRuth (Six Pack) –
Sometimes in life we get happy little surprises that instantly pick up an otherwise uneventful and routine day. Putting on jacket you haven’t worn in months and finding cash in the pocket… Your boss telling you to take the rest of the day off on a Friday… Or one of my personal favorites: stumbling upon a forgotten gem of a film.
I recently came across a horror movie from 1988 called Uninvited (not be confused with the roughly 75 other movies titled Uninvited, or The Uninvited) and I quickly learned what had been missing from my life. A little story about what might happen if a genetically mutated cat happened to hop on board a luxury yacht occupied by some evil businessmen and a group of dumb 20-somethings.
You may recognize the writer/director Greydon Clark from such classics as Satan’s Cheerleaders or Joysticks. For some reason, Uninvited is not as well known. And that’s a damn shame because this is obviously his crowning achievement.
We start in a lab, cleverly named Genetic Laboratory, where scientists (lol) are doing all kinds of terrible experiments on cats. We know something bad is about to go down because of the shrieking music. Yup, one of the test subjects – the cat is never referred to by name so from here on out we will call it Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. – bravely escapes after one of the brainiac doctors leaves the door open. The alarm (a tape recording of a game of Pac-Man) sounds while Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. gets some revenge on the evil lab workers (read: rips them the hell apart!) and disappears into the night.
Just how does Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. kill? Funny you should ask. So we know Huggy was the victim of some experiments in the lab (lol) but just what kind of experiments resulted in a second, murderous cat living inside Huggy?
Now when I say “living inside” I don’t mean Huggy is possessed or anything like that. I mean, there is another gnarly-looking killer cat living, quite literally, inside, revealing itself by crawling out of Huggy’s unhinged jaw.
Meanwhile, two elegantly dressed young women on spring break, Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) and Bobbie (Clare Carey) stumble upon an expensive hotel.
Go ahead and laugh, but this can easily be a shot from a recent Coachella.
They have no money and try to sneak in to the lobby and finagle a room. They’re almost thrown out but a wealthy older perv named Walter Graham (Alex Cord) treats the girls to a fine dinner of champagne and ice cream and invites them to a party on his yacht that evening and a cruise to the Cayman Islands the following day. What a nice and generous man who definitely doesn’t have any ulterior motives!
As you sleuths may have pieced together, of course Walter has ulterior motives, both with the girls and the trip. Turns out, he’s a shady businessman and is really going to the Caymans to clear out a bank account containing millions before the SEC gets to it. (Which, isn’t the point of having an offshore bank account to protect it from being seized from organizations like the SEC? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. This is a movie about a mutant cat.) We also learn Walter is a pretty dangerous man who has no problem viciously murdering anyone who gets in the way of his money.
The girls are wary of Walter so they decide to invite a couple guys they just met to join them on the cruise – surely Walter won’t mind! The guys are jocky Lance (Beau Dremann), preppy Corey (Rob Estes – YES, that Rob Estes from Silk Stalkings and Melrose Place), and nerdy tag-a-long Martin (Eric Larson), who is studying to be a biologist. I wonder if that will be useful later.
On the way to the yacht, they hear some incessant meowing (Note: Get used to this.) and open a crate to find none other than Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. inside.
How did the cat get inside? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
Oh hold up, I skipped probably the best scene in this entire movie! Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. gets some sweet revenge for a friend he made by taking down a couple bad guys. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life. Remember Toonces from Saturday Night Live? (VIEWING NOTE: keep your eye out for the arm controlling the puppet.)
Okay, back to the dock. The kids find Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. in the crate thing. Suzanne immediately appoints herself Huggy’s new momma and declares she is taking the cat onboard. Surely Walter won’t mind! Martin notices the cat has a collar that says “Genetic Laboratory” and figures out that Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. is a lab animal. (I mean, he is a biologist so he’s supersmart! And just you wait until he Macgyvers a sextant into a microscope!)
Once aboard the yacht the captain Rachel (Toni Hudson) informs the group that there is no crew. “No problem!”, plucky Bobbie has an idea! They could be the crew! Walter doesn’t really care as long as the boat gets moving to the Cayman Islands!
It’s here where I should point out that Walter’s partner Mike is played by Academy-Award winning George Kennedy whose contempt for this project can be seen on his face every time he is onscreen. (Fun fact: Kennedy once stated that he regretted appearing in this movie, referring to it as “putrid.”)
Thrilled to be there.
So everyone’s on board, and may I point out, everyone on board has been invited in one way or another. Off to fun and sun and millions of dollars in the Cayman Islands, right?
I’m just kitten!
This one is something special. It has everything one would want in a wonderfully terrible movie: a nonsensical plot, a tiny budget that shows, first-take-is-fine acting, and a hilariously non-scary “monster.” And bonus! It’s from 1988 so we also get amazing 80s clothing, hair, dancing, and lines like “You’re better than Jane Fonda.”
There are some pretty cool practical effects, of the micro-budget slapdash corn syrup variety, including one that has to be a nod (or straight up ripoff) of Alien.
Finally, the cat playing Huggy is probably one of the best cat thespians of all time, outclassing nearly all the human actors. Now, that’s how it’s done, Duffy,
Keen-eyed viewers, or rather, viewers that have eyes that work at all, will notice that the size of the cat changes from scene to scene. And later, into a completely different cat! But it just adds to this film’s charm! The transitions from the real cat to the puppet are seamless.
I’m joking, it’s hysterically terrible.
The biggest mistake a creature feature can make is to make the creature not scary, and even worse, sympathetic. Let’s get one thing straight: the cat is NOT the bad guy. The poor little thing was catnapped and experimented on against his (or her – we never find out the gender of the cat, or its name, hence “Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq.”) will. After escaping, it spends the rest of the movie looking for a meal, shelter, and maybe even, a friend. <<single teardrop falls from my eye>> Is that really too much to ask? And no one ever thinks to feed it. Or give it water. Or set up a litter box. Basically, the moral of this film is TAKE CARE OF YOUR DAMN PETS OR BE PREPARED FOR THE CONSEQUENCES!
And with the exception of one character (and it could be argued that since said character was already injured and bleeding that they were pretty much Fancy Feast walking and Huggy was confused), everyone that Huggy kills deserves it. The deaths of those who didn’t deserve it come, not from Huggy, but from the characters’ own stupidity. In fact, Huggy is a vigilante, and I’d argue, the hero of this movie. Huggy fights rape, irresponsible drinking, and greed. Huggy is a much-needed moral conscience of everything ugly about the 1980s.
We never learn what exactly the deal is with Huggy Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq. Yes, obviously there was a genetic mutation that caused another cat to live inside Huggy and come out whenever justice needs to be served. But Huggy is also radioactive? And poisonous? And poisons food after coming in contact with it? Sure, why not?
Give it up for the most underrated actress of the 1980s: Shari Shattuck (you may also remember her from another cheesetastic horror, 1989’s Death Spa). In matter of, say, six hours, the character of Suzanne goes from bubbly and carefree to paranoid to manic to catatonic. It’s a tour-de-force and Shattuck does not hold back. It’s an acting masterclass. Eat your heart out Meryl!
The luxury yacht encounters some stormy weather in the last act and it’s here where the limited budget of this film really shows.
Cue “My Heart Will Go On”
Earlier, when we see wide shots of the yacht, we see a real-life, actual boat. But like Huggy-Wuggy Fluffypants, Esq., the boat morphs into a comically tiny toy boat later in the movie during the big storm. I’d be willing to bet Greydon Clark filmed the scenes in his bathtub while flickering the lights on and off. Likewise, there’s also a scene in a lifeboat that was definitely filmed in a kiddie pool with people offscreen throwing buckets of water at the actors. I love it. I love it so much.
If you love great bad movies, especially those of the 80s low-budget horror variety, well then run, don’t walk, to your streaming device of choice, grab a six pack, and watch Uninvited right the hell now (it’s on Amazon Prime)! But feed your cat first!
Uninvited (1988) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever you hear incessant meowing that does not sync with the cat’s (closed) mouth
Take a Drink: every time Walter says something pervy or straight-up sexually harasses one of the girls
Take a Drink: whenever anyone says “We’re gonna die!”
Take a Drink: whenever anyone says “Cayman Islands” or “Caymans”
Take a Drink: whenever you can see George Kennedy’s disgust for making the decision to appear in this movie on his face
Do a Shot: whenever anyone goes overboard
Do a Shot: when the demon cat comes out of the fluffy cat’s mouth
Do a Shot: TOY BOAT IN THE BATHTUB!
Do a Shot: for the best line in the whole movie: “Oh Rachel, it’s not over yet!”