Uninvited (1988)


“I promise this darling little kitty won’t be any trouble!”


Director:  Greydon Clark

Starring:  Alex Cord, Toni Hudson, Eric Larsen, George Kennedy, Clu Gulager, Shari Shattuck, Clare Carey, Rob Estes, Beau Dremann, Michael Holden, Greydon Clark

Screenplay:  Greydon Clark




Synopsis:  Two scientists examine an x-ray of a cat, puzzled by what is apparently a strange growth inside it. They agree to perform exploratory surgery on the animal, but as they are trying to anaesthetise it, the cat escapes and runs through the building. Men in protective gear corner it, and it is knocked out with a tranquiliser dart. However, as one of the men tries to pick the cat up, a small, monstrous creature forces its way out of the cat’s mouth and violently attacks him. A security guard, hearing the screams, moves towards the scene but unwittingly allows the cat to escape into the parking garage, where it kills two more people before finding a loose vent and escaping… At the height of Spring Break, Suzanne (Shari Shattuck) and Bobbie (Clare Carey) find themselves stranded in Fort Lauderdale without accommodation. When they attempt to rest in the lobby of a fancy hotel the staff turn them out, only to be stopped by Wall Street tycoon Walter Graham (Alex Cord), who insists that the girls are there at his invitation. The girls gratefully accept Graham’s attentions, and are thrilled to be invited to his yacht for a party. Dinner is interrupted by an associate of Graham’s, Mike Harvey (George Kennedy), who reminds him brusquely that he has a meeting. Graham excuses himself, telling the girls he will send a limo for them. On his yacht, Graham meets with Daryl Perkins (Michael Holden), who is growing panicky over an imminent SEC investigation. Learning that Perkins has not yet talked to the authorities about their illegal doings, Graham decides that he will never get the chance… The cat, now a wandering stray, is fed by a gas-station attendant. When the young man is beaten and the station robbed, the cat jumps into the back of the thieves’ truck, from where the creature inside it launches a deadly attack… At the marina, Suzanne and Bobbie encounter Martin (Eric Larsen), Corey (Rob Estes) and Lance (Beau Dremann), who like themselves are stranded. The girls mention that Walter Graham has invited them on a short trip to the Caribbean, and suggest that the boys come along too. As they approach the yacht, there is a yowling sound from a nearby garbage container. Martin releases the trapped cat and hands it to Suzanne, noting at the same time that its collar indicates it has escaped from a lab. The five climb into Graham’s launch, Suzanne still carrying the cat. On the yacht, Graham argues with his young captain, Rachel (Toni Hudson), who tells him that his crew has quit because of his poor treatment. When the launch pulls up, Graham is not happy about the three uninvited young men, and even less happy about the cat. However, his attempt to send them away is interrupted by Albert (Clu Gulager), who tells him that the SEC are obtaining a warrant to search his boat. With a rapid departure necessary, Graham accepts the boys as a substitute crew, while Suzanne promises to keep the cat out of sight. As they get under weigh, Rachel tries to teach Albert the rudiments of steering, but in his panic he pulls a control which makes the machinery in the engine room crunch and grind. The cat is startled; its inhabiting creature emerges and slashes at a nearby wire, causing an electrical short. That evening, as the rest listen to Walter’s anecdotes, Rachel and Martin withdraw for a quiet conversation; Martin tells her that he is a biologist, not far off receiving his doctorate. They are interrupted by Graham who, annoyed by Rachel’s constant rebuffing of his advances, takes umbrage at her apparent preference for Martin. Rachel returns to the bridge to discover that Albert has been drinking on duty, and has allowed the yacht to go off-course. She angrily sends him away. Albert staggers to a storage compartment along the deck, looking for more to drink. He finds the cat inside and, as he swigs from his bottle, spits wine on it. Immediately the creature emerges from the cat, clawing and biting at Albert’s throat. Albert cries out in agony as the veins in his neck swell and pulse, and plunges over the side of the boat…

Comments:  To be fair, it isn’t actually the cat’s fault…

Uninvited is an astonishingly bad and stupid film, only partially rescued by the absurdity of its central premise—and even then that premise is too often overwhelmed by a staggering mixture of irritating characters and idiotic plot developments; all of it wrapped up in a thick, gooey coating of The Eighties at its embarrassing worst.

U88-cat5cHello, gorgeous.

There is only one aspect of this film that can be enjoyed in an unironic way, and that is the unfortunate feline cast as the host of one of science fiction’s more improbable monsters (ponder that thought for a moment, folks). It’s a beautiful cat, and I could very happily look at it for eighty-five minutes; so what did the film-makers do? Overdub it with a constant yowling guaranteed to grate the nerves of even the most inveterate ailurophile: an “artistic” choice made even more exasperating by the numerous close-ups of the cat with its mouth closed, while the yowling goes on regardless.

So, yeah: there’s one enjoyable thing here, and they go out of their way to make sure you can’t enjoy it. That pretty much sums up Uninvited.

There is, however, one other aspect of this film that, while you certainly can’t call it “enjoyable”, makes an indelible impact, and that is the presence of George Kennedy. Ol’ George is rather a favourite in this household, for a variety of peculiar reasons (and personally, of course—Joe Patroni, ’nuff said), and watching him suffer his way through this piece of idiocy is just painful. We are way beyond Embarrassed Actor here: poor George is so miserable, and so mortified by his presence in this mess, that he takes it out on everyone around him, scowling and snapping at the other cast-members in what is clearly not acting, and speaking barely a line that doesn’t feel a lot less like “dialogue” than it does like angry venting. All this being the case, I’ve decided that, though he does have a character name, Mike Harvey, I’m just going to call him “George”.

(And I would hug and pet him and squeeze him if I could, poor thing.)

U88-george7c  U88-george1c
U88-george6c  U88-george12c
The many moods of George Kennedy.

Uninvited opens in the world’s most poverty-stricken research laboratory (mysteriously occupying, so it is suggested, the entirety of a high-rise building), where we are immediately treated to the sight of writer-director Greydon Clark cameoing as “Dr Grey”. Grey and his colleague are contemplating an anomalous finding on an x-ray, and decide that only surgery can give them an answer.

The camera then pans across cages occupied by cats (I have pointed out the problems with the cats-as-lab-animals idea before, so I won’t do it again), and the assistant takes out a particularly handsome ginger long-hair. Meanwhile, Dr Grey is preparing an injection in a needle big enough to give most sensible human beings the horrors, so we are not surprised when the cat takes one look, struggles free, and bolts. We are, however – particularly in light of subsequent events – rather surprised to discover that these geniuses have left the door of their lab wide open, which in turn grants the cat almost free access to the rest of the building.

As Paul the assistant rushes after the fleeing animal, Dr Grey grabs the internal emergency phone:

Dr Grey:  “Code Red! Code Red! ST618 has escaped! Use extreme caution! Radiation security! Radiation security!”

…at which we cut to someone donning chemical protection gear.

U88-greydon1c“I just don’t understand it!” Well, that makes two of us, Greydon.

Mixing and matching of protective gear is almost a given in films like this, but here I suspect it was a way of dealing with the fact that the building they were shooting in had chemical warning signs posted around the place. A radiation-suited individual does then join the search for the cat, while warning sirens blare all over the building…

…all of which rather begs the question of why the lab was free of anything resembling radiation precautions, and why Dr Genius and his sidekick were interacting with the animal not only without any formal PPE, but with bare hands.

The cat has somehow made it into a fire escape, where – looking only mildly perturbed – it is cornered by its three pursuers, two chemical, one radiation. The latter fires a tranquiliser dart, the cat collapses, and the three men close in. And then—

Uninvited is best appreciated if we’re clear about its premise from the outset because, trust me, ludicrous as it seems even at this first glance, it becomes exponentially more so as the film goes on.

In that opening scene, what the scientists thought they saw on the x-ray was a tumour. In fact, ST618 has inside him an independently living entity, which launches itself from his mouth to commit bloody mayhem whenever the cat gets agitated, before tucking itself away inside again. What’s more, this…thing…which looks rather like a cross between a rat and a gremlin, with a body at least resembling that of a mangy cat (and which is realised via a series of hand-puppets that would make Jim Henson weep), changes size from shot to shot, at some points being at least twice as big as the animal that is supposed to be its host. Nevertheless, it continues to exit and enter the cat without causing it any harm.

u88-cat7c  U88-monster17c

We are left to ponder not just how our scientists managed to achieve this astonishing outcome, but whether this is what they were trying to achieve. But evidently Greydon Clark didn’t think it was important: the script doesn’t so much as hint at an answer. I found it particularly disappointing that there isn’t even a vague suggestion of Evil Military Projects for Evil Military Purposes; though I was somewhat compensated for this letdown by the film’s attitude towards RADIATION!!!! , which is every bit as absurdly naive as anything you’d find in a low-budgeter from thirty years before.


The radiation-suited man bends over to pick up the cat. We cut for the first time to a close-up of the film’s hilariously unconvincing cat stand-in, and get our first glimpse of its real monster, as something which at this point does look sort-of-cat-like struggles out of its mouth.

The logistics of what follows are mind-bending: one instant the creature is still struggling free of its host, the next the walls are covered with blood. Never mind that there hasn’t been time for the creature to get up under its victim’s protective gear – which is, as always, unsealed – but even if it did, the blood could hardly fly up and out like that.

(If you’re flashing on Hell Of The Living Dead here, well, you’re not the only one.)

In retrospect, the other weird thing is that in its smallest form, the creature commits its bloodiest and most immediately fatal damage: its later victims will mostly survive the initial attack with only moderate blood loss…though granted, only so something even more gruesome can happen to them.

U88-monster6c“I tampered in God’s domain and now my lab coat is paying the price!”

Somewhere nearby, a security [Sic.] guard hears the victim’s screams and opens a door to go to the scene. The cat – hale and hearty and without a single spot of blood messing up his coat – darts past him and runs into the basement car-park. An annoyingly protracted POV-sequence follows, enlivened by the cat-rat claiming two more victims, Dr Grey being one of them in another ridiculously blocked scene, which requires the good doctor to lean back for no reason against a car with an open sun-roof, and the cat-rat to – surprise! – launch itself out of the opening.

Even so, the puppet can’t reach further than Greydon Clark’s shoulder, and that only for the briefest of moments: contact is broken as soon as he starts flailing about in response to the “attack”. The next moment the cat is skittering away, and we are left to wonder what all the screaming is about. Perhaps this was the first time Uninvited’s director had seen his “monster” up close…

The cat finds a loose vent cover and escapes out into the city. The script then requires it to make its way to a marina in Fort Lauderdale, while trying simultaneously to suggest what happens is “fated” by having the cat cross paths with some of its future victims. (It is seen lurking outside of the hotel where several of the characters meet, and so on.) Along the way we get an amusing sequence that displays the same confusion of feline motive as The Uncanny: a garage attendant who has fed and stroked the cat is beaten and robbed, and the cat responds by jumping into the back of the thieves’ truck and ripping out the driver’s throat. Not only is this interlude remarkable for the subsequent truck-crash, which comes accompanied by the sound of glass plates shattering again and again and again, the attack itself grants us a glimpse of the arm of the individual operating the cat-rat puppet. (And Jim Henson weeps again…)

U88-monster7c  U88-cat8c
Just so we’re clear about it, THIS…………………..is supposed to have emerged from THIS.

So much for the entertaining part of Uninvited. Now we meet our human characters, or “characters”. First up are Suzanne and Bobbie, who do nothing but bicker constantly in that way that nothing, evidently, can convince low-budget film-makers is neither funny nor cute. The two are stranded without accommodation, and as they cross the road to try and sneak into the lobby of the schmancy hotel across the way, for want of a better plan, we discover that the they are dressed in the very height of eighties Designer Skank. Not surprisingly, hotel management wants them out ASAP, but fate intervenes in the form of Walter Graham, Professional Tycoon, who insists that the girls are there at his invitation and carries them off to dinner.

Alex Cord’s performance as Graham is so weirdly off-kilter, it is impossible to guess if it was intentional on his part, meant to be funny, or if this was honestly how Greydon Clark thought a millionaire-socialite might behave. (This film is so generally straight-faced, I suspect the latter, which makes it even funnier). Walter Graham is posited as a globe-trotting sophisticate as well as a financial genius, yet he comes across more like a sleazy casting director, hitting on everything female that comes into his orbit and striking out dismally every single time. Even Suzanne and Bobbie, not the sharpest knives in the drawer, aren’t taken in by him, though they are quite ready to accept everything he offers them, albeit without any intention of a return on his investment.

Even more weirdly off-kilter is Clu Gulager as Graham’s associate, Albert, although in that case it clearly was intentional, presumably Gulager’s way of wringing some enjoyment out of his involvement in this film. This approach was, alas, a bridge too far for George Kennedy, who puts in a tone-setting first appearance here, breaking up Graham’s dinner with the Skank Sisters and glowering and snarling at everyone who comes near him.


On Graham’s yacht, he and his goons business associates meet with a nervous young man who is somehow involved in Graham’s shady financial goings-on, and is running scared from the SEC. George hands him a glass:

George:  “Here – drink this, Perkins, and stop being such a pussy.”

The young man stupidly admits he hasn’t said anything to anyone yet, and Albert promptly murders him by holding him down in the yacht’s Jacuzzi. Graham then displays his own ruthlessness by ordering “that mess” cleaned up and the yacht prepared for a midnight party, to which Suzanne and Bobbie have been invited.

This scene also introduces three metal suitcases, each containing one million dollars: a sum which the script treats as almost incomprehensibly huge; perhaps not surprisingly, in the context of a film that must have cost all of $1.98.

The rest of our human cast shows up the next day, three young men who, I’m sure you’ll be astonished to learn, are a Jock, A Yuppie and a Nerd. Like the girls, who they soon encounter, the three have no accommodation. (It is perhaps needless to say that the film never offers a glimpse of the teeming crowds that have arrived for Spring Break.) Bobbie reveals that she and Suzanne have been invited on a short cruise to the Caribbean, and suggests that the boys come too. The name of their potential host makes Corey, the Yuppie, gawp:

Corey:   “Wall-Street Walter!? He’s made more millions on Wall Street than anybody!”

U88-party1cThe exciting and glamorous life of “Wall-Street” Walter Graham.

Than ANYBODY!? Wow. You’d think in that case he could pay his yacht crew enough to make them put up with his temper, but we find the vessel untenanted by anyone but its young female captain, Rachel. We learn that the boat used to belong to Rachel’s father, and she is working to get it back. Walter lets her know that he would give it to her, if only she’d be “nice” to him, but Rachel wants nothing to do with such tacky manoeuvrings. Say hello to our heroine. Or “heroine”.

Walter has already commented on the tardiness of his female guests:

George:  “Good! Let’s get out of here before they come back!”

…and now he reveals that the girls’ presence is meant to be a cover for his trip to the Caymans, where he intends cleaning out his bank account before the SEC gets any closer. George holds to his opinion that the girls will be more trouble than they’re worth (and he doesn’t know the half of it):

George:  “Young broads are a pain in the ass. Old broads are a pain in the ass.”

As the party of young people approaches the marina, we find Corey still trying to impress Martin (the Nerd) with the magnificence that is Walter Graham, but Martin only responds, “He’s made a lot of money – so what?” Say hello to our hero. Or “hero”. Sure enough, bimbo Bobbie will shortly hook up with jock Lance, shallow Suzanne with greedy Corey, and responsible Rachel with level-headed Martin.

Ain’t Nature wonderful?

U88-collar1c“This cat is the carrier of sixteen different deadly dis— Ahh, I’m sure it’s not important.”

Just as they are about to climb into the yacht’s launch, that persistent yowling is heard and Martin finds the cat trapped inside a garbage receptacle. (How?) Suzanne immediately takes to it (though it cannot be said the reverse is true: all through this scene, as she coos over the “darling little kitty”, the cat struggles desperately to get away from her); while Martin checks its collar:

Martin:  “Genetic Laboratory. This must be a lab animal. It must have gotten away.”

…and with that, he shrugs and tosses the collar away.

Please note for future reference that it is Martin who does this.

(“Genetic Laboratory”?? Yet another division of Generica, Inc.)

The other amusing thing here is that in at least half the early scenes, the cat is clearly not wearing a collar. Possibly those were all shot second-unit, after main photography had been completed – and after the collar had been thrown away.

After an interlude of Sophisticated High Comedy (i.e. Lance gets sea-sick and vomits), the kids climb onto the yacht, only for Walter to order the boys – and the cat – off again. They are still arguing the point when Albert arrives with the unwelcome news that the SEC is obtaining a search warrant for the boat. The need for an immediate departure, coupled with the lack of a crew, leads Walter to give in with an ill-grace.

U88-dancing1c  U88-dancing2c
Kill me now, Lord…

From here Uninvited inflicts upon the viewer a brutal serving of some of its decade’s worst excesses, all of it meaningless except to pad out the running-time, and make us look forward with passionate longing to the bloody demise of at least four of these six idiots. George, as always, speaks for all of us:

George:  “I hate punk kids like that! Keep them the hell away from me!”

Up on the bridge, Rachel is trying to teach Albert the rudiments of steering, but instead he yanks a control lever that somehow causes the gears to grind below, startling the cat which just happens to be passing. The creature emerges and slashes at a nearby wire, causing an electrical short that most of us will have forgotten about by the time it becomes relevant—not least because by then we will be suffering the after-effects of have been treated to two separate interludes of White People Dancing, to the strains (using the word advisedly) of bland eighties synth-pop: this in the wake of a sleazier-than-sleazy sequence in which Suzanne and Bobbie tease the boys, and the viewer, with the possibility of boobage that never eventuates.

Now, I called Rachel “responsible”, but it seems I have to take it back: we next see her down below, sipping wine and chatting to Martin over a game of backgammon, while up on the bridge a drunken Albert sends the yacht completely off-course. Rachel observes that Martin is “different than your two friends” – because he can speak grammatically? – which leads Martin to reveal that Lance is on a wrestling scholarship, Corey is pre-Law, and he is – groan – a biologist. And you can just imagine how much the shamefaced way in which he makes that confession endeared him to me.

U88-survivors1c  U88-nonsurvivors1c
Spot the survivors.

Graham, who has been telling unfunny anecdotes while the rest hang on his every word and George contemplates suicide in the background, gets annoyed by Rachel’s apparent interest in Martin and breaks up the tête-ê-tête. Rachel returns to the bridge, not before time, to discover Albert’s dereliction of duty. She berates him, and he staggers away to find more booze. He opens a storage unit on the deck and finds inside—the cat. (Are people supposed to be trapping it repeatedly, or is it doing this itself somehow?) Albert stupidly spits wine into its face, and – after licking itself; evidently it didn’t care for the vintage – the creature launches; while Albert helpfully drops the broken wine bottle had had armed himself with, and catches it.

(It has to be said: the fake cat from which the creature emerges is by far the most disturbing thing in this film.)

This particular attack introduces a new wrinkle, as Albert’s un-ripped-open neck veins swell up and throb in a cheesy bladder effect. Albert staggers around screaming, and finally falls overboard. Though Rachel somehow hears nothing, his screams and the subsequent splash just reach George down below, where he has been playing backgammon with Martin (no, really) while an already-drunken Graham drinks alone nearby, looking unutterably bored.

George goes to investigate, leaving Martin to protest the breaking up of the game (no, really), then comes back to collect Graham. The two of them find a splash of blood and no sign of Albert, and assume that he fell overboard while drunk. They agree to say nothing, since Rachel will certainly want to stop and search; though neither one of these criminal masterminds thinks to clean up the blood.

U88-wine3c  U88-wine2c
That may not have been the brightest idea that Albert ever had. Then again, maybe it was.

The next day, while Graham ogles the bikini-clad Bobbie and Suzanne as they lounge by the pool (can anyone be that desperate?), some unconvincing engine noises remind us of that wiring short. Rachel tells Walter that, with no crew, she’ll have to stop the yacht while she investigates the problem herself; she can’t even find “that nitwit, Albert”. She sets Martin to find him, but instead he finds the blood splash. Rachel reports this to Graham and George, who feign horror, but stress that Albert couldn’t swim. Rachel still wants to turn back, but allows herself to be convinced of the futility of searching when Graham mentions casually his plan to sign the yacht over to her once they reach the Caymans…

Graham:  “That’s a shame about Albert. I liked him.”
George:  “Yeah, well, he’s shark-bait now.”

As Rachel ponders what entry to make in her log, Martin comes in asking to borrow a sextant—which Rachel feels obliged to inform him is “used for navigation”. My first reaction to this pearl of wisdom was to jeer, “Aw, I was gunna make waffles with it!”, but more fool me: Martin wants it for something even stupider

…he jury-rigs it into a microscope.

No, really. He’s found a piece of Albert’s shirt, and wants to examine it. (Why?? – no-one at this point has any reason to be suspicious.) So first he jams it into the sextant and obtains a perfectly clear and illuminated view of Albert’s blood (!!!!), and then he mobilises the red blood cells by flicking them with water!!??

U88-science2c  U88-science1c
“The SEXTANT-SCOPE! – for all your shipboard science needs!”

He’s a biologist, all right.

Martin:  “This is a hundred, maybe even a thousand times…normally for fresh blood.”

Yup, that’s what he says. I suppose it was a case of Eric Larsen blowing his line and Greydon Clark not bothering to re-shoot, but it leaves us tantalisingly unsure of what point is being made here. (Then again, why worry? – it’s only the premise of the film.) From the crowded blood shot my best guess would be that something in Albert’s blood caused his red cells to multiply extravagantly…but frankly, if it could make them multiply at all, I’d be sufficiently impressed.

Meanwhile, Graham is bored enough to launch a half-hearted rape attempt at Bobbie. The cat verbally protests, but Lance gets there first and punches Graham. George then looms up and shoots at Lance in retaliation, grazing his right arm, before demanding an explanation of Graham. Deciding there’s no point in mentioning the whole attempted rape thing, Graham replies that Lance jumped him when he wasn’t looking, which prompts George to take much more careful aim at the prostrate Lance:

Bobbie:  “No! You can’t!”
George:  “Just watch me!”

Sadly, Corey intervenes—though on a more cheerful note, the disarmed George slams his fist into Corey’s gut, and then kicks him in the ribs. He then looks for his dropped gun, and hooks it away from a piece of furniture with his foot—only for the creature to latch onto him, shredding his foot and ankle right through his shoe.

U88-corey1  U88-corey2c
“I’ve been waiting all film for this!”

As he thrashes around on the floor – his foot looking considerably less damaged in far-shot than it did in close-up – George shoots wildly at the creature, which bobs up from behind this booze cabinet and then that as if to taunt him, before giving one last booga-booga and fleeing the room. In his agony, George fires one more shot that just misses the others…or at least, I’m sure that’s how he’s planning on explaining himself.

Martin and Rachel then turn up, and while George writhes and mutters about the cat, the others fret over Lance’s arm. Hilariously, in contradistinction to the myriad films in which serious gunshot wounds are just shrugged off, Uninvited treats Lance’s graze like a life-threatening injury. Martin eventually gets around to examining George, who continues to insist, “It was the cat!” (I think we’re supposed to believe that everyone was too busy ducking to see the creature, though Bobbie at least got a good look at it.) Martin and Graham continue to debate the issue, neither one lifting a finger to actually treat George’s wound or stop the bleeding.

Rachel and Suzanne run to the bridge to radio for medical help, and Graham follows them, George’s gun in hand. If you’ve guessed that before this scene is over, the radio will be disabled – and that it’s the only one on board – give yourself a gold star.

Graham drops any pretence of Mr Nice Guy from here, forcing Rachel to sail on by threatening the others. Rachel reminds him that the boat needs repairs, and that there’s a possibility of the engine dying altogether. A scuffle ends with Suzanne holding the gun on Graham’s crotch, while Rachel goes back downstairs.

“Give it up, Kennedy – you couldn’t hit a barn with a rocket launcher!”

Then it’s time for more SEXTANT SCIENCE!! As poor George moans on the couch, Martin posits that the cat is “highly poisonous”. (He means venomous, but never mind.) When Corey expresses incredulity, Martin tells the others about Albert’s blood:

Martin:  “It was mutating like nothing I’ve ever seen!”

Suzanne – Suzanne, mind you, not Martin – then raises the issue of the cat’s collar: “Genetic Laboratory”, remember?

To this, our resident biologist, who shrugged off the collar and let the cat on board in the first place, comments, “There’s a great deal of experimentation on lab animals. Maybe somehow this cat’s system has got some type of experimental chemical in it. Seems to me like our cat might administer that very same chemical when it bites.”

And it’s all thanks to RADIATION!!!!

Martin further suggests that the substance is only dangerous via direct contact with the victim’s blood or when ingested. (Plot-point! Plot-point!)

George has been writhing away through all this, developing his own bladder effects all over his body – including a very Alien-esque one that bobs up in his chest – and now he gets his most desperate wish and exits the film.

U88-george13c  U88-group1c
“He’s leaving… He came into our lives but now he’s leaving…”

Lucky him. The rest of us have to watch Uninvited going through the motions, with Graham getting locked up in his cabin, Rachel and Martin working on the engine, Bobbie and Lance doing a tiresome false scare bit, Corey making a deal with the devil, aka Walter Graham, and thereby signing his own death warrant (see also: Anaconda), Corey and Suzanne enjoying some nudity-promised-but-never-delivered canoodling, and Martin making progress with Rachel, if not the engine, among other tedious blah-blah.

The only significant event is when Martin finds what looks like bits of stale bread, and – as the camera pans past his sextant-scope – he tells the others that any food the cat has been in contact with will be poisonous.

Things pick up a bit when we cut back to Bobbie and Lance. While they snuggle, the latter informs us that he has no feeling in his injured arm. Apparently not: when Bobbie moves a pillow we get a hilarious reveal of the cat-rat contentedly biting Lance’s fingers off and eating his hand. This completely contradicts its established behaviour patterns, of course, but I for one am so starved for entertainment at this point, I’ll let it fly.

The bladder effects then kick in. Lance freaks out, rushing through the ship and bellowing, “I got the poison in my blood!” Bobbie follows him and tries to stop him when he takes a header over the railing, with the result that she goes over too. Strangely, this is the last we see of either of them, though I can’t think why the uninjured Bobbie, at least, shouldn’t have resurfaced. However, I’m prepared to let that fly, too; good riddance.

As the survivors ponder their friends’ fate we learn that the yacht’s fresh water has run out. Rachel offers champagne. “Save that!” orders Martin. “We’ve got to tighten up on supplies!”

Hey, Mr Biologist—you know alcohol’s a diuretic, right??


No-one has had an emotional or psychological breakdown up to this point, so Suzanne steps up to the plate, toggling between almost-catatonic and, “WE’RE ALL GUNNA DIE!!!!”

The others decide to let Graham out, so that he and Corey can hunt for the cat while Rachel and Martin work on the boat; Suzanne is functionally useless but is finally persuaded into half-heartedly keeping lookout.

We next see the cat-patrol scattering poisoned tuna around the yacht. Hmm. Tuna is very moist; they might be better keeping it for themselves, particularly when we see what passes for “rations”: a small serve of cornflakes and a smidgeon of champagne. (We might be inclined to wonder what happened to the mounds of meat and fresh fruit we saw onboard early in the film.)

Down in the engine-room, Corey is poking around on his own, despite the “team” idea; and he has the gun, last seen in possession of Graham. He discovers that the cat hasn’t touched the tuna; of course, it has had a decent meal more recently than any of the others. Naturally – just when we least expect it – Corey encounters the cat-rat. In his panic he puts one bullet through the hull of the boat, which starts to leak, another into a steam-pipe, and – taunted into it by the cat-rat; no, really – a third and last into the boiler, which blasts a jet of scalding water straight into his face, while the cat-rat chuckles evilly. (No, really…)

The really remarkable thing about this scene, however, is that it’s the only time we see the creature climbing back inside the cat. In fact, Uninvited is even more oblique about its monster’s behaviour than it is about its monster’s creation.

What did I tell you? Waffles!

After yet another burial at sea, Rachel and Martin discover that the cat has ripped open the metal (!) storage locker in which they’ve been keeping their dwindling supplies, and rendered the remaining food inedible. (The suggestion is that it has chewed a bit of everything, but I like to imagine it taking its time and spitting on each individual bit of food, just like Albert spat at it.) Psycho-Suz decides that Rachel and Martin are lying and keeping all the food for themselves, so that night she sneaks into the pantry. Martin heads her off the first time, but the next night she slips by him and eats the scraps. So much for her.

Okay—up until now we’ve been on a real boat for filming, but a shift to a tank for the shooting of the climactic scenes is signalled by the substitution of one of the most obvious toy boats you’ll ever see.

And naturally, a violent storm is building (briefly foreshadowed, if it needed to be). Below decks, the bullet-hole that Corey put in the hull is now about a hand’s-width across, and water is pouring in. Earlier the same day, Rachel stopped Graham from trying to escape using the life-boat, arguing that this would be an even worse option than staying onboard; but now they have to evacuate regardless. As Rachel and Martin get ready, Graham is – of course – in his flooded cabin grabbing his money-filled suitcases (remember those?). He carries two of them up to the life-boat, but when he insists on returning for the third, he finds the cat sitting next to it. Will he risk his life by grabbing for the suitcase? What do you think?

(The cat, meanwhile, is more concerned with the water that’s keeping it in shot, and seems interested in Alex Cord only as a possible means of escape.)

AHHH!!! No, seriously—AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Graham successfully snatches the suitcase off the shelf. The creature immediately starts emerging from the cat, and we get perhaps the creepiest of all this film’s shots of the fake-cat host. Instead of getting the hell out of there while he can, Graham stands there gawping and allows the creature to swim towards him. It is, by now, more than twice the size of its host, and rips open Graham’s throat and face with no particular difficulty, leaving Wall-Street Walter floating in a thuddingly ironic mixture of blood and money.

When Graham doesn’t reappear, Martin tells Rachel to finish lowering the boat while he goes below. Evidently the fact that Graham is floating face downwards in bloody water doesn’t convey anything to Mr Biologist, so he flips the body over and gives us a good eyeful of the film’s final mutilation effect.

Martin and Rachel make their escape, watching from a safe distance as the yacht sinks.

(With the cat onboard!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!)

Martin then opens one of the suitcases, curious to see what cost Graham his life:

Rachel:  “There must be a million dollars!”

Hey, good guess!

U88-corey3c  U88-monster16c
“Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!”

Despite spending the whole film turning up their nose at Wall-Street Walter, Rachel and Martin immediately claim the cash for themselves: a new yacht for her, a lab for him. As for Graham’s defrauded investors, not to mention the SEC, I guess they can just suck it.

But – surprise! – it’s not over yet: the creature starts climbing into the boat. What follows is a thoroughly exasperating Death Battle Exemption sequence, in which Martin successfully catches the homicidal creature in mid-leap and holds it off, suffering not even a scratch, not once, but twice; even though it could clearly rip his face off, if it was really trying. (Try! Try!)

Finally concluding that the creature won’t leave them alone without something else to float on, Martin picks up one of the suitcases. Ah-HA! we think, A concluding lesson in how money isn’t that important after all!

Think again: as Martin goes to swing the case overboard, Rachel stops him, emptying the money into a conveniently empty carry-bag. Then they toss the case to the creature, which climbs on and obligingly leaves them alone.

Earlier on, Rachel dissuaded Graham from setting out in the life-boat on the grounds that they were too far from land and he couldn’t possibly survive the journey; yet we are not surprised when we shortly find our alleged heroes safe and sound on a Caribbean island, being questioned by a uniformed official. Despite the fact that seven people died on that yacht, one of them the man who “made more millions than anybody”, and that Martin and Rachel told the true story, cat-rat and all, they are allowed to leave without even having their bags searched. Exiting the official’s office, Martin and Rachel stop to smirk at each other, and then ride off into the sunset with two million dollars of other people’s money.

U88-money1c  U88-end1c
Most high-principled Final Couple since Julie James and Ray Bronson.

But, wait! – it’s Gratuitous Kicker Ending Time! (And unlike some people, Greydon Clark hasn’t earned one.)

On a beach somewhere along the coast of this island, a metal briefcase rests at the high-tide mark; nearby, a black cat yowls in a way that sounds, shall we say, familiar. A small boy (whose surname, “Clark”, I’m sure had nothing whatsoever to do with his casting), edges up to the cat and scoops it up into his arms; at which point we get a freeze-frame and an ominous music-sting…

And although it would be nice to have official confirmation that this cat is the creature’s new host, and maybe some hint of how any old cat can act as a host for the thing, not just one treated with RADIATION!!!!, by now we all know better than to expect from Uninvited anything that even begins to resemble an explanation…

…or common-sense.

U88-end2c  U88-faron1d
I didn’t know anyone really held a cat like that…

Want a second opinion of Uninvited? Visit Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension.


This review was part of the B-Masters’ Pets Gone Wild Roundtable.

This entry was posted in Science fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Uninvited (1988)

  1. Dawn says:

    Yes, that is a beautiful cat. It looks very much like mine. Speaking from experience, the movie didn’t really need some monster coming from the cat’s mouth. The cat could have done most of that damage without any help (but seriously, I love you, Boots!)


  2. moddamn says:

    Hi Lyz! I’ve been a longtime reader of your site and enjoy your writing. I hope the site/blog transfer goes smoothly. May I ask if your Synopses will remain as a single chunk? It’s a little daunting above (in the Uninvited review). Am looking forward to reading my favourite reviews on your new format.


    • lyzmadness says:

      Hi, thanks for visiting! Your comment on the synopsis section is something that had already struck me—it’s not that those sections are actually any bigger, but because the font is, they look a bit overwhelming. I will add that point to my ongoing ‘consultations’ and see what others think – thank you!


  3. Ray Ochitwa says:

    Beautiful cat, painful movie. I had to search it out and watch it just because of that picture of the cat-rat taunting George from behind the liquor bottles. It looks so much like Salacious B.Crumb in that shot I couldn’t help but imagine it cackling crazily at him because it was giving him the chance at a shot – but only if he was wiling to endanger the precious, precious liquor bottles in the process. What exquisite torture that must have been… Good old George should have learned to stay away from the ocean after Death Ship!


    • lyzmadness says:


      George can do no wrong around these parts, no matter how much wrong some films do to him!


      • Ray Ochitwa says:

        Yes, he is one of those actors whose appearance in a film always perks up my enthusiasm. Strangely (or maybe not so strangely) I don’t have that reaction to any of the A-list stars. it’s always someone lower down in the rankings that gives my heart a lift when I find a film they are in. I also get the feeling that these are the actors who would have some really great stories to tell.


  4. Dawn says:

    I just saw a movie last night about a killer cat which was better than this one (not that that’s a high bar). The Shadow of the Cat is much better. I highly recommend it, if you can find it. I watched it on Svengoolie last night.


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