Purr evil: cats with hidden agendas – ranked!

As Goose the Cat has stolen the show in Captain Marvel, we pick 10 fiendish felines from past films

10. Orion in Men in Black (1997)

Orion is a ginger-and-white puss who sees his beloved can-opener, an elderly Manhattan jeweller called Rosenburg, being murdered by a giant cockroach-like alien called Edgar, and refuses to leave the old man’s corpse. The cat’s loyalty to the dead man is genuinely moving in a sci-fi comedy that otherwise opts for flippancy. But Rosenburg had a secret and so does his cat. SPOILER! Hanging from the collar around Orion’s neck is a bauble that turns out to contain the missing galaxy for which everyone in the film has been searching.

Orion, from Men in Black.
Orion, from Men in Black. Photograph: Alamy

9. Binx in Hocus Pocus (1993)

Binx the talking black cat could almost be the cousin of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s Salem Saberhagen. And, indeed, like Salem, he is really an enchanted human; 300 years ago, a boy called Thackery Binx was turned into a cat by three witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) who drained the essence from his little sister. Now it is up to Binx to stop the witches from staging a comeback at the expense of a bunch of 1990s youngsters. Binx is such an engaging feline (with a snarky CGI mouth) that one can’t help feeling sad when he turns back into a boy and goes into the light.

8. Jake in The Cat from Outer Space (1978)

This almost falls into that odd subset of live-action Disney movies depicting the wacky exploits of middle-aged male scientists, but luckily the true protagonist here is an extraterrestrial in the form of a beautiful Abyssinian cat called Jake, whose light-up collar gives him telepathic and telekinetic powers. We hear his thoughts, but his mouth doesn’t move because CGI hasn’t yet been invented. The cat needs $120,000 of gold to mend his spaceship. And what better way to raise it than by getting one of those middle-aged male scientists to place bets on football and snooker matches? Fun for all the family!

Jake in The Cat from Outer Space.
Jake in The Cat from Outer Space. Photograph: Allstar/Disney

7. Pyewacket in Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

Pyewacket with Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.
Pyewacket with Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle. Photograph: Allstar/Columbia

Pyewacket is a sleek Siamese who lives in an arty Greenwich Village shop. Little do New Yorkers realise that the shop owner (Kim Novak) is a witch, and Pyewacket is her familiar. He helps her cast a love spell on James Stewart, but when she herself falls in love with him, Pyewacket deserts her and she loses her magic powers. Has there ever been a romantic comedy with a more melancholy denouement?

6. Church in Pet Sematary (1989)

Winston Churchill, known as Church, is a blue British shorthair with a tendency to leap out and scare people even before he comes back from the dead as a zombie cat with matted fur and glowing eyes. Apart from the ominous foreshadowing (never bury your dead child in a Micmac graveyard), Church pretty much continues to behave like a regular cat: lurking, hissing capriciously or depositing mangled rats in the bathtub. In the spoilerific trailer for the 2019 remake, he is played by a long-haired tabby with a baleful glare.

Church from Pet Sematary.
Church from Pet Sematary. Photograph: Alamy

5. Graymalkin in Night of the Demon (1957)

An American psychologist (Dana Andrews) sneaks in the dead of night into an English warlock’s house, where a domestic grey called Graymalkin morphs into a leopard and leaps at his throat. (Cue shots of Andrews wrestling with a stuffed animal; director Jacques Tourneur makes this look better than it sounds.) The creature reverts to normal when interrupted by the warlock (deceptively affable Niall MacGinnis), who pets it and says: “Just a minor demon I set to protect the room … Did you bite the man? Oh shame, I don’t keep you as a watch-cat.”

4. The Black Cat (1981)

Lucio Fulci’s extremely loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s story is a barmy cocktail of the Italian horror genre giallo and Midsomer Murders set in a sleepy English village. It is never clear if the cat has actual supernatural abilities or is just a badly behaved feline that keeps causing gruesome accidents, but compensations for the fudged narrative include Sergio Salvato’s lovely cinematography, Pino Donaggio’s lyrical score and mad Patrick Magee ranting that he and the cat are “bound together by hatred. He wants to kill me!”

3. Blanche in House (1977)

Blanche, the fluffy white cat in this bonkers Japanese horror classic, is all purrs when seven schoolgirls encounter her on the train on their way to a country house holiday. Once there, the girls meet ghastly fates in a riot of stylised special effects; one gets eaten by a piano, another is trapped in a grandfather clock. Meanwhile, Blanche shoots green lasers from her eyes, and turns into an evil cat painting that pukes so much blood that one of the girls drowns in it.

Blanche in House.
Blanche in House. Photograph: Toho/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

2. Uninvited (1988)

The cat from Uninvited.
The cat from Uninvited. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

A fluffy ginger puss escapes from a laboratory and inveigles its way on to the yacht of a crooked investor on his way to the Caymans with a bunch of horny springbreakers, plus George Kennedy. And yes, the cat has a secret! Every so often a woolly muppet erupts out of its mouth to sink its teeth into the passengers, who erupt into pulsating buboes and die. It also poisons someone’s cornflakes. They don’t make them like this any more, and you can see why, but it is a must-see for pulsating bubo completists.

1. Azazel in Fallen (1998)

Aww, look at the ginger puss trotting purposefully through the streets of Philadelphia! But this cat is just the latest vehicle for a demon called Azazel who hops from one body to another, taunting detective Denzel Washington by singing like Mick Jagger (though not when in the cat) and implying more than once that felines aren’t to be trusted. This is hardly news to ailurophiles, who already know that inside every fluffball lurks a psychopath ready to lash out at an ill-timed belly tickle. Some cat lovers would probably look on demonic possession as an upgrade.


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Anne Billson

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