Some movies are just fun. The Cat from Outer Space (1978) is one of them. This is the kind of wacky Disney movie that’s fun to watch from your sofa while eating a large bowl of extremely buttered popcorn. Let me be clear … this is not a great movie, but part of the fun is in its not-greatness.
See, there’s this cat in a spaceship…
The Cat from Outer Space opens with a UFO making an emergency landing in a farmer’s field. The spacecraft’s door opens, and out steps … a cat. Soon enough the military is involved, taking over the craft but not noticing the cat, who hitches a ride to a base called Hopscotch. There, a security-conscious general (played by Harry Morgan) rounds up a group of scientists to try to figure out the craft’s mysterious propulsion system. They briefly bring in a visiting scientist, Dr. Frank Wilson (Ken Berry). I say “briefly” because Frank is quickly thrown out when he starts talking about electromagnetism and biofeedback and such things. The cat follows him back to his office.
And just like that, Frank is befriending the alien cat and taking him home, where, not surprisingly, the cat begins to talk to him. Well, not “talk” exactly. It’s thought transference. At least that’s what the cat, now named Jake, says … or thinks. Jake also tells Frank that he has just 36 hours to fix his spaceship so he can get flying again and meet up with the mother ship. Frank agrees to help, but their plans hit a major snag when it turns out they’ll need $120,000 worth of gold to fix Jake’s spaceship. In today’s dollars, that would be … a lot.
See, the cat has this collar…
How do you raise 120 grand in a hurry? Well, if you happen to have a neighbor who’s a gambler (McLean Stevenson), you make a really big bet on three football games. Then you have the cat with the collar that lets him move objects or people influence the outcome of the games. Just mentally nudge the ball a little bit this way, and your team wins. Easy peasy.
Was the cat actor sedated?
And this brings us to the part of the story where a well-meaning but misinformed vet sedates Jake at a critical point in the gambling scheme. With Jake temporarily out, there’s no way to control the game, and the big bet is lost. We were left wondering whether the cat actor was actually sedated for these scenes. (The part of Jake was played by two Abyssinians, by the way.) He looked sedated as the actors held the sleeping, very still cat. We haven’t been able to find any information on this, so we can’t say for sure. But we can say that sedation would be a crappy, not to mention potentially dangerous, way to get a cat actor to do what you want him to do. We hope that this particular cat actor was just really good at pretending to sleep.
Hokey but funAs I said above, The Cat from Outer Space is not a great film, but it is fun. The story is preposterous, the special effects are hokey—wires are pretty clearly visible when people are “flying,” and the stuffed stunt cat used in the airplane shots does not come close to looking like an actual feline. But for us, seeing the hokeyness is part of the fun.
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good movie; two paws is for a great movie. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the movie through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!