If the term “anal gland” makes you bristle with revulsion, then Michael Reich’s offbeat horror-comedy-romance She’s Allergic to Cats is probably not for you. Lovers of slick Hollywood fare might also be put off by the experimental nature of the film, all handheld and jittery and underlit, with a propensity for showing us in close-up things we’d rather not see, even in long-shot. In the film, Mike Pinkney plays an aspiring videographer named Mike Pinkney—genius!—who’s described as a “giant, sad, dirty man-baby” (by his best friend). Mike is currently slumming as a dog groomer in order to pay the rent. One expects that his rent isn’t much given his rat-infested apartment; they like to nibble on his bananas. The opening scene, replete with slo-mo soapsuds and dirty dialogue—“Yes! Yes! Fantastic hand control… slowly and sensually, like that… Yes! Yes!”—might make you think you’ve stumbled into some hardcore fetish flick by mistake. You haven’t. Anyway, Mike’s long-held dream is to produce an all-cat version of Carrie (the Brian De Palma adaptation of Stephen King from 1976, not the William Wyler adaptation of Theodore Dreiser from 1952), but his agent isn’t convinced the project has any legs. Then one fine day Mike meets the luminous Cora, played by Sonja Kinski (daughter of Nastassja, granddaughter of Klaus), and romance blooms large… and weird. Very weird. Fuzzball psychedelia coupled with VHS-quality visual effects (courtesy our mousy lead; Pinkney also produces) dominate this film school dropout styled catharsis, which is just now debuting on VOD (it was made four years ago). ‘Cats is definitely an acquired taste and, some 24 hours after watching Reich’s semi-autobiographical fantasy, I’m still finding it a wee bit gristly.
(c) 2020 David N. Butterworth