“Michael, you are a dirty boy. You are just a giant, sad, dirty man-baby.”
— Sebastian, producer and agent from L.A.’s underbelly
To this day I still get the business for making my friends watch Adam Rifkin’s The Dark Backward. I’ll never live down the “movie with the arm coming out of Judd Nelson’s back.” I’m the guy who walks out of a movie theatre after a showing of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, only to have my date tell me, “you pick the shittiest movies.” Chicks.
So I can imagine your reaction when I show you this teaser that opens with bananas falling on a man’s head . . . alongside images of cats . . . and a voiceover about a naked duck lady with duck boobs . . .
. . . and there’s a cat carrier in flames . . . and 1976-era John Travolta from The Boy in the Plastic Bubble keeps showing up, with musical backing by the obscure, late ’70s teen-pop duo sounds of Donnie and Joe Emerson and the new wave synth-pop drone of Cowboys International. And the fact that I can’t recall any other film that, through ambient sounds and jerky-visual collages, reaches out of the screen like a J-Horror yūrei and induces an uneasy queasiness.
Yeah, this is going to be one weird movie.
Like David Lynch experimental and Andy Warhol avant-garde (bananas?). Like Jim Jarmusch ’80s indie-expressionistic. Like a John Waters Pink Flamingos joint. Like MTV Liquid Television-retro crossed with a USA Night Flight analog bong-hit and a snort of Takashi Miike’s scent for the bizarre (The Happiness of the Katakuris or Visitor Q, anyone?). And that means music video director Michael Reich’s (Ryan Adams, Bad Religion, and My Chemical Romance) feature film debut will be an intelligent cult classic that only a film freak like me will love—and mainstream flick lubbers who pine for Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, will hate.
I’m all in, kittie cat.
For we are in a land-world somewhere Under the Silver Lake, a movie that, like Sam, the boss at B&S says, “. . . unlike the vast majority of the world,” we loved. And like that Andrew Garfield starrer, She’s Allergic to Cats is impossible to spoil and difficult to explain. But I’ll sure as hell try—and my critical attempt to make sense of it won’t spoil one frame of it for you.
Mike Pinkney (played by meta-Mike Pinkney, who’s Michael Reich 2.0) is another one of those aspiring, emo-nerdy filmmakers who arrives in Tinseltown—and is rejected by the industry. Yeah, pitching an all-talking cat version of Stephen King’s Carrie . . . and embracing ‘80s analog technology in your work . . . has a way of stymieing a career. So he has to settle for a job as animal groomer—but not of cats, but of dogs. And he sucks at his job because, well, he hates his job. And cats.
And he hates his dick of a German agent, Sebastian (the funny-as-hell Flula Borg; he’ll appear as “Javelin” in James Gunn’s upcoming Suicide Squad). And he hates the down-and-out club musician landlord of his rat-infested rental home. But Mike loves his endless tapes of retro ‘80s video art that nobody wants to watch. Yeah, videos of falling bananas and dancing cats have that effect on people.
And by way of his dog-grooming gig, he meets his femme fatale, Cora. And she looks like Nastassja Kinski—because she the real-life daughter (Sonja Kinski) of Nastassja—who starred in Paul Schrader’s Cat People (1982). And Cora hates cats. And she takes Mike on a quasi-horror, acid-trip rom-com that goes meta-film noir—if there is such a genre. If not, Michael Reich just created it.
Giant Pictures debuts this surrealist dark comedy across all VOD platforms on April 7. You can learn more about Michael Reich’s feature film writing and directing debut by visiting sheallergictocats.com and NormalTV. As of December 2020, can now watch it as free-with-ads stream on Tubi.
Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR company and, as you know, that has no bearing on our review. However, based on the teaser and the trailer, we would have rented the VOD anyway.