Search

Loading...

Navigation

Topline

Latest

More →

Trailers

Reviews

21 April 2014

DVD Review - Cat People (1942) & Curse Of The Cat People (1944)


Genre:
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Distributor:
Odeon Entertainment
Rating: PG
DVD Release Date:
14th April 2014 (UK)
Director:
Jacques Tourneur
Cast:
Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith
Buy:Cat People [DVD]

Genre:
Thriller, Mystery
Distributor:
Odeon Entertainment
DVD Release Date:
14th April 2014 (UK)
Rating: U
Director:
Robert Wise
Cast:
Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph
Buy:Curse of the Cat People [DVD]

Val Lewton is in a very small group of producers who can be considered auteurs; Roger Corman (even though he directed many films as well) is another example of one. Lewton started his career working for another famous producer David O. Selznick. RKO hired him as the head of their horror film division in 1942. His first film for them was Cat People and was a massive success, which spawned the sequel The Curse of the Cat People.

Cat People is an acknowledged classic of 1940s Horror filmmaking and has spawned a very fine remake by Paul Schrader in the early 1980s. It concerns the tale of a young Serbian women Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) who believes she is a descendant of a race of cat people and is scared she will turn into one when sexually aroused. The noted director Jacques Tourneur took the helm who went on to direct the seminal film noir Out of the Past, Cat People marked the first collaboration with his cinematographer of that film. Both films are richly atmospheric and the lighting and photography are textbook examples of greatness in their fields.

The Curse of the Cat People is the more interesting film in the series though which is quite a feat. The film is more of a fairy tale than a horror film, which might remind modern viewers of films such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Paperhouse or even aspects of Jean Cocteau’s work. It’s one of the best depictions of a child’s imagination so much it’s actually been used in child psychology classes for this reason.

The story concerns the daughter of Irena Dubrovna’s husband Oliver Reed who has since remarried after the events of the last film. Amy, the daughter is a shy introverted girl who has a wild imagination and after discovering an image of Irena she gets visits from the possible ghost of Irena. Amy struggles with making friends and despite pushing from her parents to make real friends she delves deeper into her fantasy world.

It’s a beautiful dreamlike film, which is partly down to wonderful cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca (who shot the previous film) and Lewton’s richly psychological script. The film was a massive disappointment due to radically different tone to the first film but over the years it’s gained a cult following. The young actress Ann Carter who plays the young girl gives one of the finest kid performances ever on screen, shame she quit acting later on to become a teacher.

It’s also worth to note it’s Robert Wise’s first directorial effort after his pioneering work with Orson Welles as an editor on Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. The Curse of the Cat People actually reuses sets from Ambersons to cut costs on the budget. Wise would of course become a noted director of classic films like The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

Hi there! It looks like you're using Internet Explorer. CinehouseUK isn't quite operational on this browser at the moment. We suggest using either Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Opera to see the site as it was intended.

Alternatively, you can view this blog using Blogger's swish new Views feature.