A friend of mine at work, Drew, has a cat that does something amazing. This cat can jump three-odd feet into the air. This by itself is nothing extraordinary. However, once the cat has reached the peak of its initial jump, it somehow snaps its spine and hurls itself straight upward another three feet. This cat can jump to some amazing perches using this technique.

My friend has a cat that is insane. This is nothing new, most cats are insane. The thing of it is, how he expresses his insanity. Lenin (the cat) will jump onto the top of a door and balance there until a victim walks by. Then he will leap from on high to cling in the person's hair until he is successfully pulled off. This may take an hour and involve selling your soul to satan. He has also been known to jump from an average height couch to the ceiling tiles, which he will sink his claws into and then pull himself up into the ceiling. He will disapear there for much time, to return whenever the hell he feels like it. Now that is a spring-loaded cat.

The spring-loaded cat is a staple of poorly-written horror movies (some cheap, some not). Typically, the music will slowly swell, creating tension, then a cat will jump out of nowhere and scare the hell out of characters and spectators alike.

The term (supposedly coined by Joe Kane, "the Phantom of the Movies") can be applied more generally to any sudden false scare in a movie.

The most original variation on this theme must be the spring-loaded Jesus from Clive Barker's movie Hellraiser. During a tense stalking scene, a scared girl bumps against an armoire of some kind and a life-size statue of Jesus half-falls out of it, looking ominous and symbolic, as if somebody had placed it there for just such a moment. (How is this symbolic, you ask? It's open to interpretation. You could take it as an icon of suffering and sacrifice, or make your own "Jesus coming out of the closet" joke).

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