Facets Night School’s Dominick Mayer Purrs Over Rene Cardona, Jr. and Night of 1000 Cats

This Saturday night those of you who crave pussy in your midnight movies will see plenty of them on the screen when Dominick Mayer, editor and critic for HEAVE Media, presents “Knockoff Henchmen, Helicopter Seduction and Night of a 1000 (sic) Cats. ”  The movie has been widely available for years on VHS and DVD, but never like this, for Mayer was able to obtain a rare 35MM extended version of the film. With it’s extra 20 minutes and presented in glorious, eroding MagentaColor®, this promises to be the ultimate in grindhouse viewing. You’ll be able to feel the mildew and wonder if the guy sitting in your row will flash you in the men’s room.

Here’s my interview with this very learned fellow:

LL: Night of 1000 Cats was made by Rene Cardona, Jr., the great Mexican exploitation director who should as well known as Ed Wood but isn’t. Could you give us a little about him?

DM: Honestly, the more I try to find about Mr. Cardona, Jr., the more questions I ultimately end up facing. I can tell you this: He was a ridiculously prolific filmmaker, putting out 99

Rene Cardona, Jr.

Rene Cardona, Jr.

films as a director between his credited start in the 1964 and his death in 2003. Many of his films are out of print or hard to find; on this spectrum, Cats is definitely more obscure than something like Guyana: Cult of the Damned or Tintorera (the latter a delightful Jaws ripoff that you should find if possible), but at least it can be tracked down with relative ease. “Obscure” is relative here, though; he’s very much an unsung talent.

LL: What drew you to this movie? I know this film was one that I strongly considered for Night School.

DM: A few years ago, a friend of mine bought it out of the dollar bin at F.Y.E. largely because of the mistranslated title; the American DVD release boasts the deliciously trashy title Night of a 1,000 Cats, and if you pronounce the number as “one thousand,” the appeal of such a film pretty much sells itself.

Dreaded kitties waiting for their next beautiful meal

Dreaded kitties waiting for their next beautiful meal

That said, once we actually threw it on, I was totally blown away. It’s an amazing piece of exploitation trash, and from a filmmaking acumen (or lack thereof) standpoint, it’s fascinating on the level of something more reputed like The Room. More than anything, I wanted to show a theater full of people this thing, provide what context I can and, more than anything, watch people who haven’t seen it react to it. To cycle back to your intial question, this has that intangible “youhave to see this” factor to which exploitation cinema aspires.

LL: I’m excited that you’re presenting the 35MM print of this film. Have you seen it and do you know what differences there are between this and the DVD/VHS released versions?

DM: First off, huge thanks to a gentleman named Harry Guerro for being goodly enough to share his personal print with us. Anyway, I can’t say I’ve seen the 35mm print; it’s because of night of 100 catsJason Coffman‘s offhand mention of seeing it in Philadelphia at Exhumed Films’ 24-Hour Horrorthon last year that I was even aware such a thing existed. I figured this was a bargain bin curio and no more, so I’m thrilled to be screening it. All I know is that there’s about 20-25 minutes of footage in the original version that doesn’t exist on DVD. A bonus if you’re reading this and on the fence about coming: to the best of my knowledge, this is the first-ever Chicago screening of Cats in its purest form.

LL: How would you compare this with other horror films about killer animals?

DM: How many others make you wonder if the animals onscreen are actually in mortal peril? Because this one totally does. It also has maybe the least intimidating evil animals in horror history.

LL: What do you hope viewers will take away from this movie?

DM: If a stranger lands his helicopter in your backyard and asks if you want to see his castle in the middle of the forest, the correct reaction is to politely demur. 

Thanks, Dominick!

Facets Night School Presents: Knockoff Henchmen, Helicopter Seduction and a “Night of a 1,000 Cats” (IN RARE 35MM)
Saturday night April 13, 2013 at Midnight
Facets Multimedia
1517 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614
Admission: $5, FREE for Facets Members (become one here)
One FREE small popcorn for students with valid student ID
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