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Cat People

USA 1942
produced by
Val Lewton for RKO
directed by Jacques Tourneur
starring Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt, Henrietta Burnside, Elizabeth Dunne, Dot Farley, Mary Halsey, Theresa Harris, Alan Napier, Betty Roadman, Alec Craig, Eddie Dew, Charles Jordan, Donald Kerr, Connie Leon, Murdock MacQuarrie, John Piffle, Elizabeth Russell, Stephen Soldi
written by DeWitt Bodeen, music by Roy Webb

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Oliver (Kent Smith) spots Irena (Simone Simon), a girl of Serbian descent, at the panther cage at the zoo, and he immediately finds her fascinating, so much so that he asks her out ... and a few months later they're already married. But Irena has a problem, she can't get intimate with Oliver due to some sort of (imagined?) that turns her into a panther every time she gets excited or aroused. Of course, Oliver believes the curse to be nothing but superstition, but he sends her to a psychiatrist, Dr. Judd (Tom Conway). Irena though is very convinced about her condition, so she doesn't believe Dr. Judd will be able to help her and after the first session cancels all future appointments, much to the dismay of Oliver.

Oliver talks to his colleague and best friend Alice (Jane Randolph) about Irena, and she confesses her undying love for him, putting him into even more emotional turmoil. Of course, Irena soon notices that Alice is drawn to Oliver, and - well, every now and again, Alice has the odd feeling that she's followed by something catlike, and there's evidence for that, like some sheep at a nearby meadow slaughtered by a panther, and her bathrobe ripped to shreds while she was swimming at her apartment building's indoor pool.

Over time, Oliver falls more and more for Alice, as Irena grows more and more distant, to the point where he decides to break up with Irena - but first he, Alice and Dr. Judd want to have something like an intervention for Irena - to which she doesn't show up, but Dr. Judd, whose fascination with Irena has long gone past the professional, somehow gets his hands on her apartment key, to surprise and force himself onto her - but he's ultimately killed by a panther, yet not before wounding Irena - who eventually throws herself in the very panther cage from the beginning of the movie, to her death ...

 

Now Cat People is a film that holds up incredibly well over the decades, basically because it plays the suggestive horror riff incredibly well, and it's psychological undercurrents seem to be universal, while the film is also just really well shot and cast. But while the film still seems somewhat fresh today, it must have been a revelation back in the 1940s, where mainstream horror, domineered by the Universal horror cycle, has become more of a cookie-cutter monster of the week sort of thing - charming in its own way of course, but also a tad infantile and not to be taken seriously. Cat People on the other hand treated very adult themes - of course without being explicit in either picture or word - and was very mature about things, something also mirrored in the deliberately slow approach that gives things enough time to properly unfold. Now this approach to horror, a brainchild first and foremost of producer Val Lewton, sure was a gamble back in the day - but it paid off nicely at the box office, and has created a deserved genre classic (and then some to follow during Lewston's time with RKO).

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD