Hollywood Gothique
The Vault

Scaredy Cats: The First Power (1990)

If ever there were a kitty co-star wasted in a stereotypical role, it is Jack, the scaredy cat character in this inexcusably atrocious time-waster about a supernatural serial killer terrorizing the police officer who sent him to the gas chamber.

Jack is first seen munching on leftover pizza, while Detective Logan (Lou Diamond Phillips) tries to plot out the next move by Patrick Channing (Jeff Kober). It is a nice joke that quickly tells us all we need to know about Logan’s bachelor lifestyle – or lack of life and style. Sadly, Jack’s appearance promises more – which is never delivered.

Instead, Jack is pushed off-screen during a stake-out, while an upstart black cat makes a single-scene cameo. What is the purpose of this nameless interloper? Is it Channing’s familiar, or is it mere coincidence that the cat distracts an undercover policewoman long enough for Channing to abduct her? (And why is a trained cop distracted by an itty-bitty kitty when she knows there is a seriously schizo slasher on the prowl?)

After Channing is arrested and convicted, Logan sees the killer break out of the gas chamber and attack him. Of course, this turns out to be a nightmare from which Logan awakens in a cold sweat. The film then adds insult to injury by having Jack do a variation on the Spring-Loaded Cat routine: jumping down on Logan’s bed and giving him a second scare before the bad dream has had a second to wear off.

Jack immediately compensates for this rude awakening by throwing a hissy fit, warning Logan of the executed Channing’s unseen satanic spirit. Sadly, this is Jack’s last contribution to the film. He remains mysteriously absent even when Logan brings the leading lady back to his apartment.

One suspects that post-production editing left Jack’s best scenes on the cutting room floor. Kitty, call your agent – and demand a restored director’s cut on DVD!