Monday, October 19, 2020

The Cat People

I thought I'd feature another creepy movie this week for Halloween. I don't like blood and gore slasher movies, but I do enjoy unnerving movies that keep me on the edge of my seat. When a lot is left to my imagination, I don't mind being scared, but I don't want to be emotionally scarred by the trauma of visual violence.

Therefore, the 1942 version of The Cat People is just the kind of scary movie I like! There was no CGI back then, so animation was used to create some rather hair-raising special effects that I found quite effective! A newer version of this film was made in 1982. I haven't seen it, but I doubt it's as good as the original. Remakes seldom are.

Here's a partial synopsis of the 1942 version of The Cat People from Wikipedia:

At the Central Park Zoo in New York CitySerbian born fashion illustrator Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) makes sketches of a black panther. She catches the attention of marine engineer Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), who strikes up a conversation. Irena invites him to her apartment for tea. 

At her apartment, Oliver is intrigued by a statue of a medieval warrior on horseback impaling a large cat with his sword. Irena informs Oliver that the figure is 
King John of Serbia and that the cat represents evil. According to legend, long ago, the Christian residents of her home village gradually turned to witchcraft and devil-worship after being enslaved by the Mameluks. When King John drove the Mameluks out and saw what the villagers had become, he had them killed. However, "the wisest and the most wicked" escaped into the mountains. Oliver is dismissive of the legend even though Irena clearly takes it seriously.

Oliver buys her a kitten, but upon meeting her, it hisses. Irena suggests they go to the pet shop to exchange it. When they enter the shop, the animals go wild in her presence, and Irena becomes uneasy. Irena gradually reveals to Oliver that she believes she is descended from the cat people of her village, and that she will transform into a panther if aroused to passion. Despite this, Oliver asks her to marry him, and she agrees. 

To see what happens next, click here. Or better yet, to watch it, click here!

The Cat People was created as a B movie and opened to mixed reviews. However, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1993, and because of its atmosphere and sophistication, Roger Ebert describes it as one of the landmark films of the 1940s. That's good enough for me!

Have you ever seen The Cat People? Any thoughts? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

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