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CAT IN THE CAGE (1978) ** ½

World class sex symbols Sybil Danning and Colleen Camp star in this nutty mix of noir and slasher movie. Sybil marries an old guy (Frank DeKova) for his money and has her lover, the chauffeur (Mel Novak) bump him off. Her stepson (Bruce Vaughn) just got out of the nuthouse, so there's some tension there, mostly because she hates his cat. When the chauffeur winds up murdered, the increasingly hysterical Sybil fears she'll be next.

Cat in the Cage came out a few years before neo-noir thrillers like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Body Heat were becoming popular. The sex scenes are probably the main selling point too. They are tastefully done by director Tony (Werewolf) Zarindast and aren’t at all exploitative. Camp and Danning’s bodies aren’t the main focus of these scenes, but rather how their character interacts with their partner. Of course, if Zarindast sleazed things up a bit more, it might’ve made for a better movie, but every now and then you’ve got to appreciate a classy approach to one of these thrillers.

The problem is that the narrative is just too disjointed. The addition of a masked killer perks things up just when you think the film has run out of gas. It’s just a shame that the prolonged shootout finale goes on for far too long. The unsatisfying twist ending also takes a lot of wind out of the movie’s sails and it goes on about twenty minutes longer than necessary.

The funniest part of the film is the cat attacks. It looks like someone dangled string just off camera to make it bare its claws, and then they added high-pitches screeching cat sound effects in post. Unfortunately Zarindast ditches the crazy cat subplot about halfway through. It would’ve been a lot more fun if the cat was bumping people off instead of the crazy twin brother.

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