August 11, 2015

Tomcat: Dangerous Desires (1993)

"Jacki, a scientist involved in genetic research, meets Tom, a young modern dancer who is suffering from a degenerative nerve disease. Jacki experiments with using genetic material taken from a cat to cure him, but the cure has side effects, and Tom begins to take on feline characteristics that may turn him into a monster. The situation is further complicated by Tom's attachment to Imogen—and Jacki's growing jealousy as she fears the loss of her patient and lover."

Since there's very little information about "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" online, and only a few short reviews which I could find, I decided that it was about time for me to redress the balance by rewatching and reviewing this "guilty pleasure" movie myself.

Although I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about when I watch any erotic-thriller, especially one with a "CatMan" (to quote the German VHS title) and former Bond-girl Maryam d'Abo nude in it, I have to preface my review by saying that this is not entirely typical of the movies which I normally watch, but it's close enough to provide an example of things to come.

Having said that, I'll probably never watch "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" again unless I have a very good reason to share it, but once I've finished telling you about it, I'm certain that you'll want to see this for yourself.

"I want to talk to you up close."

"Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" is a typical '90s straight-to-video product which contains all the elements that the hipsters and SyFy channel viewers now only enjoy ironically. There's mostly bad acting, horrible cheesy dialogue, and lots of softcore sex scenes involving very hot actresses.

Richard Greico's outstanding feline performance is kind of great, because he suits the role perfectly, but the ladies will be sad to learn that he only gets semi-nude. You do get to see him shirtless several times, and he shows his bottom, but you're not going to see Richard's other Richard.

Offscreen kills and nothing particularly gruesome apart from some cruelty to insects, plus an anaesthetised cat with tubes coming out of it head in grainy video-footage of the important operation, mean that the R-rating is only for the nudity and occasional swearing which doesn't get any harder than the word "Fuck!"

At the heart of "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" is a fairly tame Frankenstein-genre plot with so many moments of humour that you can't believe the serious performances which surround them. How can this not be a comedy when the first things to give you a hint that Tom is half-cat are the types of food and bottles of milk in Tom's fridge?

"What a loser. No fucking beer!"

As a cat caregiver myself, those contents aren't much different to the ones in my fridge, give or take a couple of dozen cans of Monster, but we already have the title of the movie in our minds, and it's pretty obvious that Tom doesn't have a pet.

Because the story starts in medias res, the secret of why Tom is a little bit odd and has superhuman powers is the next thing revealed. We find out that sexy Dr. Jacki (Maryam d'Abo), who is now Tom's girlfriend (for lack of a better term at this point), has performed an unethical experiment.

Tom initially went to Dr. Jacki suffering from a terminal hereditary illness, and just as any good Canadian NHS doctor might do, she cured his genetic problem by replacing his damaged human cells with cat brain cells. Purrfect! Nothing could possible go wrong!

"You're not killing the cat!"

Here's where things start getting a bit more involved. Tom is prone to going out at night, staying out, and coming back in the morning... just like a cat. And what do tomcats need to go out for at night? Yeah, you guessed it. He's not the most faithful fella in the world.

Suffice it to say that Tom and his sexy dancing partner Imogen (Natalie Radford) start getting jiggy with it after what can only be described as the worst version of "Swan Lake" ever performed. There's wirework and flying through the air in this shit!

Not blue Bart Simpson.

Just to make sure that we still understand that Tom is a bit catty now, a playful splash of water scares him and causes him to take off his shirt (revealing a panther tattoo!), which is followed by some very astute observations and accusations about Tom's behaviour from Jacki. She's suspicious, a bit jealous, and she knows but can't prove that there's something wrong.

"You dumb, stupid, stubborn, zadnyaya chast' loshadi!"

It isn't long before the affair becomes more obvious. Without giving too much away, Jacki catches Tom and Imogen kissing at a nightclub called "Feline Sex Club". I shit you not, that's its name. Feline. Sex. Club. Nothing naughty could ever happen there!

It's not what it looks like. She's inflatable.

Lest I ruin the rest of the movie with spoilers, it's enough for you to know that Jacki and Tom break up in a bad way, a VHS tape of Jacki's experiment on Tom falls into the wrong hands a couple of times with deadly consequences, Tom becomes more unstable and unfaithful, and Imogen has a boyfriend who also becomes a problem.

"I'm King of the World... I mean King of 21 Jump Street!"

For anyone who suffers from vertigo, as Tom used to before he went all catified and found that he preferred high places, I'll just warn you that a torturous scene with Imogen might give you the heebies. It's not as bad as the one in "The Devil's Advocate" (1997) though.

"Do you like scary movies?"

Possibly the most awkward scene involves Imogen selfishly and tantalisingly having phone sex with Tom while he is on his cellphone in a public area of a hotel, but it's undeniably hot too! If watching this part of "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" makes you want to see more of Natalie Radford, you won't need to go to another movie because she's not shy! Trust me, you'll see everything you need to eventually.

The big question, however, which I'm sure you're asking, is "Are there any cats in this movie?" I'm delighted to tell you that, yes, there are.

There's a Persian cat during the opening credits, a Tabby cat involved in the experiment, and Imogen and her boyfriend Dale (Sean Orr) share a Siamese cat. Two black and white moggies (from what appears to be stock footage which is flipped horizontally at one point) also hang out and watch Tom and Imogen run around a lumber mill near the end.

Written and directed by Paul Donovan who (according to the IMDb) also directed "Def-Con 4" (1985) and 12 episodes of the "Lexx" TV show (1997-2002), neither of which I've seen, "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" isn't a great horror movie, but it's far from being a terrible one. It's better than 99.9% of today's progressive-liberal tainted rubbish anyway.

It may look like a TV movie, and it's more about a very weird romance than it is about horror or sci-fi, but "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" is nicely filmed on location in Vancouver (with real cameras and tripods and stuff rather than handheld shakycams in someone's backyard), and it's an amusing little product of its time.

There's nothing to get too upset about with this movie unless you're looking for a hardcore porno or some extreme bloody violence, because it isn't one of those. It's not that "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" doesn't have any violence at all or some absolutely beautiful and thoroughly refreshing politically incorrect moments, but it's not meant for horror purists, and it certainly isn't scary.

Yes, it really is called "CatMan" in Germany, and they replaced Maryam d'Abo with Natalie Radford on the VHS artwork. Meh. It could be worse.

Unlike the mean-spirited and humourless twonks who rated "Tomcat: Dangerous Desires" as 3.6 on the IMDb, I'm giving this highly entertaining movie 6 out of 10 because it wasn't slow, boring, or preachy, and I liked it.

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