Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cat People (1942)

Meow!  Cat People is a beautiful film by legendary producer Val Lewton.  For those unfamiliar with Lewton's work, he produced a series of nine wonderful horror films on shoestring budgets for RKO Pictures in the 1940's.  There is a great documentary on Lewton that came out in 2008 which is narrated by Martin Scorsese.  It is definitely a must see and will give you a greater appreciation for Lewton's influence on future filmmakers.  In fact, Boris Karloff once said about working with Lewton that "he rescued me and restored me soul."  High praise, indeed!
Cat People is the film that started it all and, single-handedly, pulled the struggling RKO Pictures into the black.  It is moody, atmospheric and reminds me of the best of Alfred Hitchcock.  Each scene is shot and lit with great care, making it look like a more expensive movie than it is.  Furthermore, because Lewton had little or no budget for special effects he took the approach that it's what you don't see that if far more terrifying [Think of Hitchcock's Psycho].  With Cat People hits a total home run in this regard.
Simone Simon is the feline bombshell Irena Dubrovna Reed.  She is fantastic in the part and keeps the tension and suspense going throughout the film.  The rest of the cast is solid as well.  Cat People was remade in 1982 starring Nastassja Kinski.  However, it bears little resemblance to the original.  It is a decent film in it's own right and should be judged on its own merits without comparing it to Lewton's film.
Cat People is a first class thriller.  Don't miss it.  You can find it on YouTube in parts and as a rental on Netflix.  I own The Val Lewton Horror Collection which contains all nine of his horror films.  The digital remastering of this edition is absolutely beautiful and well worth the price.
Rating: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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