Strays (1991)


Directed by: John McPherson

Co-Produced & Written by: Shaun Cassidy


Kathleen Quinlan ... Lindsay Jarrett
Timothy Busfield ... Paul Jarrett
Claudia Christian ... Claire Lederer
William Boyett ... Dr. Lyle Sokol
Heather Lilly ... Tessa Jarrett
Jessica Lilly ... Tessa Jarrett

Release Date: Made-for-Cable: December 18, 1991




An old lady (Eve Brennar) with a bunch of cats was attacked and killed by an evil tom stray at an isolated country house in the middle of nowhere.
The house was sold to a troubled family Lindsay (Kathleen Quinlan) and Paul (Timothy Busfield) with their 3 year old daughter.
They did realise what has happened there before with the old woman.
Lindsay and Paul are convinced that the home is a perfect place to raise their child but they don't realise that the place is populated by cats as Paul is allergic to them and starts to get sinuses and then they find a mother cat with kittens in the basement.

The phone repair man (Gary McGurk) tells them their wires are chewed off by rats and then they are wiped off the road in their car when the tom jumps by them.
Eventually the tom cat makes his move by killing the phone repair man.

Then the tom marks his territory in the house mainly in Lindsay and Paul's bedroom as he made passageways all around the house in order to get inside.
During a rainstorm they are being terrorised by the cats as the tom cat plans to kill them.


This film was a little cheesy but well done. It marks the writing and producing debut of former actor and 70's rock idol Shaun Cassidy whom later on would produce and write for TV shows like American Gothic and Cold Case so this film was a nice start for him even if it seems like a weak Stephen King type of a film.
The story does open up nicely with some feline wandering around a house which makes everything look creepy as well as an old lady preparing to feed her cats which seemed nice and heartwarming but yet the sceneries was dark and very still so it did have a good horror feel to it that something bad was going to happen. Then there's a perfect moment with the Tom cat growling in the echoey air at night and attacking her which seemed pretty disturbing since she seemed so caring to her cats.
There's also good scene's with the place looking abandoned and a family moving into the house to have a fresh start which seems to be a good traditional moment for a start on a horror flick too.
A nice horror drawing card is when the husband Paul wakes up realising that a cat was in the room marking it's territory or his dog was battered up by the cat and the vet telling him about certain cats not being afraid of people and to be aware of what a certain Tom can do when someone entrs their territory which can almost leave a chill down your spine.
There's also the odd jumping moments like Paul driving in his car while talking to his wife Lindsay which seems like a peaceful drive and then bang! The tom cat jumps on their windshield causing their vehicle to go into a ditch which seems like a good plan to have them trapped there with no transportation and a nice horror moment for that cat with his evil deeds too. Yet he seems too cute to seem threatening when he walks away after doing this.
Another moment is when the Tom cat attacks the phone repair person in the cellar and he falls over some shelf and dies which didn't look brutal enough for him to be killed by all of this as this seemed quite cheesy and needed to look more convincing with the writing on this.
Yet there's a nice precious moment with Lindsay finding a mother cat and a kitten in the attic which looked so cute and I think to myself I hope nothing terrible will happen since they seem so tame.
The suspense does pile in when Lindsay spots that her daughter's cradle is infested by cats which was supposed to look scary but the cats looked way too darn cute or when the Tom tries to break through a vent above her and she stuffs a pillow to keep him from coming in. I had to laugh with this moment as the Tom was clawing through the pillow which seemed more funny than scary. But it was all in good taste.
What better to have in a horror film taking place at night is thunder and lightning even if this moment seemed a bit cheesy but well written in since Lindsay and her toddler Tessa can find a way to go out there as we all know that cat's hate water.
In the story we do spot the traditional attack scene with the victim falling off a ledge from a second floor of a house and to their death. The Tom cat tries to look vicious doing this but this looked too cute.
A moment that will really keep you peeled to the set is when Paul tries to talk to Tessa into slowly crawling to the cat door with the cat's surrounding her in which slow movements can cause safety from a vicious beast. You just wonder if this child will make it out safely or not.
There's also the great showdown with Paul struggling against this cat in which the cat still looks pretty darn cute but the showdown writing seemed like a total classic with how to put an end to this madness.
Bottom line is that this film disturbing as I am a cat lover but of course no animals were harmed in this film and of course their owner got paid alot of money for using their pets in this film. It's a person's worst nightmare to be allergic to a cat as well as how far a dominant male Tom cat can be towards anyone even if it goes to the point on killing to anyone who trespasses in their terrory. This was very imaginative since cats are territorial and imagining if they will turn on people but going to the extreme about it all. I'll have to criticise the tom cat however as he didn't look at all scary and looked too cute as well even if the filmmakers tries to make this cat look scruffy but he was no Pet Semetary material by any means. Some critics put this one down but it was still well done for a low budgeter and a nice stepping stone for a fresh writer like Cassidy even if his other shows were geared for a TV series and were too cult to make it for a second season.

The acting is was quite impressive. Kathleen Quinlan (Lindsay Jarrett) really brought on some nice characteristics as a troubled wife in the film. She shows a good blunt and stern attitude with whatever she does in the story as well as showing a nice warm attitude in many spots acting believeably motherly. She also was terrific with her intense and anxious attitude when the terror starts to happen to her and her on screen family. Does a good job getting short and stern towards her onscreen husband in which this looked like a believeable misunderstanding with the two of them when an argument is about to occur. Does a great job freaking out after she finds a cradle full of cats with a good camera shot looking down on her throwing the cats out to look for her onscreen daughter. Also shows some good struggling moments locking herself in a room as well as trying to stuff a pillow in a vent in which this all looked highly energetic. Does a great job acting choked up trying to talk to her onscreen husband on the phone which showed great timing. An effective moment on her cradling her onscreen daughter with an emotionless expression on her face rocking on a chair which looked impressive acting like a believeable basket case. Does well trying to calmly talk to to her onscreen daughter by letting her know the cats won't get her due to the rain which looked impressive and seemed very believeable. A great startling reaction on her trying to warn someone else which looked very hyped and energetic.Basically she showed alot of great energy and attitude into her role.
Timothy Busfield (Paul Jarrett) came off nicely as one of those easy going symathetic passive types. He was great with his words while delivering his lines as well as showing alot of great energy into his role. He was very hyped with what he did in the film and shows that he can be a great character actor. He also was terrific with showing great enthusiasm too with everything that he did. Shows a great aggressive attitude towards the tom cat along with his struggles against this feline rolling around and trying to find some way of surviving in which the energy looked quite intense along with his gruff speaking too which was impressive.
Claudia Christian (Claire Lederer) was a nice key role to the story in which she comes off as someone who is beautiful and very flirtatious. She also made her part realistic as one of those lusty types that you don't trust to be around when you're alone either. She came across very smoothly with everything that she did in the film.
Supporting actor William Boyett (Dr. Lyle Sokol) didn't have a huge part in the film but yet he totally stood out in the film as an all around nice vet and bringing good wit into his role too. He really came across well with discussing a dominant male Tom cat and was another good key to the story in which he definetely came across terrifically in what he did for his part. Did a good job speaking to an injured dog in which he acted sympathetic and charming which was smoothly performed as well as a nice serious attitude towards his fellow cast members about what a dominant male cat can do which looked quite strongly done and well focused.

Alot of synthsizer composing was well done into this film with alot of deep sounds for when the cats tries to creep up on anyone as well as the high pitched tones too that sounds soothing and peaceful at times. Plus there's good banging sounds when the attack sequences starts to happen along with good scraping sound effects too which is a nice jumping moment all put together by Michel Colombier. He also shows a nice closing credits with sounds of cats growling and using the same formula with the music too. Alltogether it sounds dark and cold.

Lindsey Jarrett: Could we at least call a vet?
Paul Jarrett: Lindsey I don't need a vet to teach me how cats behave, I know how they behave, that's why I have a dog.

Dr. Lyle Sokol: You know what you found in your bedroom sounds like... err... the dominant male marking his territory.

Dr. Lyle Sokol: They've been around people all their lives... so they're not afraid at all.

Paul Jarrett: [Firing a revolver at the dominant male cat only to see it just squirts water] Great going Doc/Nice one doc.