TITLE: The Cat and The Canary
YEAR RELEASED: 1979
DIRECTOR: Radley Metzger
CAST: Honor Blackman, Michael Callan, Edward Fox, Wendy Hiller, Olivia Hussey, Wilfred Hyde-White, Beatrix Lehmann, Carol Lynley, Daniel Massey, Peter McEnery
DONNA CUTTRESS reviews the 1979 British horror remake of The Cat and The Canary
‘The Cat and the Canary’ directed by Radley Metzger, begins with an idyllic English country scene, 1904 Glencliff Manor with its beautiful gardens, a deceased canary and a dangling cat called ‘Mew Mew’, then we jump forward to 1934 where events take a far more gothic turn.
We are treated to Mrs Pleasant (Beatrix Lehmann) and the family solicitor Mrs Crosby (Dame Wendy Hillier) preparing for the arrival of the descendants of Cyrus West.
They open what at first looks like a coffin but is in fact a steampunked refrigerator which has been used to store cinematic film for 20 years.
The family arrive and the various dynamics are set, we have the war hero, the animal hunter, the murderess, the fraudster, the damsel and the… songwriter!
All take their places for the reading of the will which is so cleverly portrayed; it is for me, one of the highlights of the film.
Cyrus West played magnificently by Wilfred Hyde White is introduced to the scene on film, seated at the table enjoying the same meal as his family, whom he refers to as a ‘bunch of b*****ds’, 20 years later.
There is a particularly ingenious scene with Beatrix Lehmann playing a younger version of herself as she passes behind the projector screen for just a few seconds that is so well timed and enjoyable.
The will is read, but there is another film!
If the recipient of the inheritance is killed or declared insane by morning then the other film must be watched for the next inheritor to bag the family fortune.
There follows some comedic and somewhat drawn out scenes of the various members all declaring love and concern for the ‘canary’ (yes it’s a ‘she’; I don’t want to give too much away!).
They all have motives for her demise and some seem intent on it.
Liverpool’s DONNA CUTTRESS writes horror/suspense short stories,and has recently been published by Crooked Cat Pub. and Siren’s Call Publications as part of Women In Horror month. Follow here on Twitter @Hederah