Cat People (1982)

November 1, 2014 - 7:08pm | steelba
  Tags: Annette O'Toole, Cat People, cats, John Heard, Malcolm McDowell, Nastassja Kinski, Paul Schrader, Ruby Dee, sex, sexual, shapeshifters

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Paul Schrader
Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Annette O'Toole, Ruby Dee

1982's Cat People is a bit different from most of the horror films of that decade and certainly has its own unique style and charms. The film opens up in a surrealistic red desert to some very moody music, showing a bit of the mysterious Cat's origins and the aboriginal cult of followers they had. It is a very brooding, ambient, and interesting opening to a fairly unique film. After the atmosphere drenched opening the film shifts to then modern day New Orleans, where the rest of the film takes place.

After the shift to modern times we're introduced to Irene Gallier (Natasha Kinski) and her very strange brother Paul (Malcom McDowell). Immediately there is an awkward and weird feel to their estranged relationship and things basically remain like that between the two as the film progresses. Kinski's character is a bit naive and still virginal and therefore hasn't fully experienced the shape shifting that occurs when one of the Cat People is sexually aroused, or shortly after they engage in sex. Naturally she also is unaware that they must kill to return to human form after they've transformed. Which in a nutshell is the plot of this weird, twisted, esoteric, and sexed up fantasy horror film.

As the story of the Cat People and Irena's new found love begin to unfold and become intertwined, a few killings occur, while various other strange and rather gross events take place. The film does offer up a couple of very bloody scenes and the black panther they used for the film is absolutely stunning. One scene is particularly spectacular as dark red blood gushes in contrast with a bright white floor, after a man's arm is torn apart. Outside of that scene, most of the killings take place off screen, which is unfortunate, but not completely unacceptable. What the movie lacks in action however is nicely reinforced by good cinematography, great sets, fantastic music, beautiful naked women, tons of sex appeal, and a unique arty style that really compliments the film. This is not a film for people seeking a large body count and a brisk pace, as it's more sexy, strange, and a bit different from the more mainstream genre offerings.

Cat People is an often overlooked and seldom talked about horror film from the early 80's. The film lacks the fast pace and staggering body count that many movies from that period are famous for.. But it offers up a sex filled, highly stylized and darkly moody ride, that is a refreshing change of pace from the cookie cutter, murder-by-numbers flicks, that dominated much of the genre at that time. Cat People is very much a style over substance, art-house horror type of film, and is only recommended for people that can enjoy a slower paced, more fantasy driven horror story.

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