Aug. 31, 2008, 5:47 a.m. CST
It has been awhile and so I may be off here a bit but if I recall correctly Val Lewton had this concept in mind and wanted to do this script. RKO wanted Curse Of The Cat People. So he gave them the film he wanted to make and slapped their title on it with enough connections to the first film to make it a sequel. RKO was not exactly happy with him. But, hey, he got a script made he wanted to and was willing to face the repercussions. I believe Lewton even wanted to try and change the name of the film. And the scene at the beginning with the cat was added at RKO's insistence just so there would actually be a cat in a movie called Curse Of The Cat People.<br><br> And the dad is an even bigger dick than you imply. He doesn't forbid fantasy and whimsy but worse gives mixed signals. At the start of the film the little girl gets in trouble for believing in a bit of whimsy HE himself instilled in her. Sort of like telling a kid there is a Santa Claus and then berating her for being silly enough to believe in him. But watch the film again with no Cat People expectations and it will play as a much better flick.
Aug. 31, 2008, 5:56 a.m. CST
I remember first seeing it about 15 odd years ago and thought it was very odd and very original. Even better though is the DVD set of "Body Snatcher and I walked with a Zombie" - Body Snatcher especially is pretty fuckin brilliant and I can't think of a better Karlof performance.
Aug. 31, 2008, 6:14 a.m. CST
Here’s an interesting case example of a sequel. All the main characters from the last movie are there but the audience doesn’t get the original’s main meat, a woman turning into a cat and stalking people. It’s understandable why many people wouldn’t find this satisfying. However, the story is pretty good. It’s just of a different nature. I commend screenwriter DeWitt Bodeen for coming up with an original tale that’s not just another sequel rehash. It’s a refreshing change. Yes, he could have made it more sinister by having Irena’s ghost talk Amy, the little girl, into doing bad cat-like things. But I like what’s there. He wrote The 7th Victim. I’ll look forward seeing what he does.<p>The most effective scenes are of children teasing and then ditching Amy. They twisted my heart some. Ann Carter delivers a very good performance as Amy, one of the best child performances I’ve seen recently. Except for an unaccredited cameo in ’52 she stopped acting at age 13. Too bad. I wonder how she would have been as an adult actress. Julia Dean shines as a lively elderly actress remembering her glory days and making friends with Amy.<p>The 1950s prototype very square repressed household rubbed my fur the wrong way. But maybe that’s the intention. I’ve had enough of Kent Smith for a while. I miss Jacques Tourneur’s addictive direction, but you can’t have everything. Overall, it’s a pretty good interesting sequel. I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a must, but it’s definitely a notable curiosity.<p>I’m all for gorging on horror in October. In fact, my appetite is whetted for gorging on horror in September too. But I’m a dyed in wool horror nut. It’s October somewhere in my head all the time. But if you think you might get horrored out, feel free do watch other stuff in September. It doesn’t bother me if there’s no connective tissue from title to title.
Aug. 31, 2008, 6:44 a.m. CST
When he joined in 1942 he was given "complete creative control" as long as he agreed to stick to some very specific rules: He had to use "the studio's already-tested sensationalist titles, to avoid messages, to spend less than $150 000 per movie or per month on shooting and to limit the length to around 75 minutes." Well, after losing a fortune with Citizen Kane, RKO was on the verge on bankruptcy. Lewton completely saved their asses with Cat People.
Aug. 31, 2008, 6:52 a.m. CST
(self appointed) I like the idea of a horror-centric October. Maybe start it mid month on the 15th if you're worried about being "Horrored-out".______I love those Curse posters. Talk about false advertising...
Aug. 31, 2008, 7:13 a.m. CST
I'm pretty sure that you'd be required by law to do so. Keep in mind that you don't always have to look for quality movies-- for every piece of genius filmmaking like Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING, there are dozens of hilariously bad schlock-fests. If I may make a recommendation for the latter, check out a lovely little film called PIECES. You won't be disappointed.
Aug. 31, 2008, 8:06 a.m. CST
How about starting on the 13th and then continuing on through the end? You get the obvious (lucky) 13th reference, and a nice little bookend 13/31 for the month.
Aug. 31, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST
I like the 13-31 Horror AMAD fest<P>as for this movie, I caught it a couple of years ago, maybe even close to 10 years ago on AMC or TCM and being blown away having not seen the orignal only Schrader's remake, it really is a twisted bizaree little movie
Aug. 31, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST
Irena really was both the protagonist and the antagonist. Smith's actions had to be understandable, but you weren't supposed to like and identify with him - you were supposed to feel sorry for Irena. So to me Smith nailed it. Not enough of a bad guy to be the bad guy, but not enough of a good guy to be the good guy because he was meant to be neither.
Aug. 31, 2008, 10:16 a.m. CST
I'm glad to see you add "The Leopard Man" to your list. You will not be disappointed (well, except for the commentary by William Friedkin - not that insightful). As for horror month in october, may I make a couple of suggestions: Eyes Without a Face; Night of the Demon, Dead of Night; Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter; The Changeling (70s version); The Other; Martin; and Targets. You might have already seen some of them, but if not they are worth a look. I would have added "Night of the Eagle" but it is not available on DVD.
Aug. 31, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST
by Boba Fat
...and maybe can carry on into other months / seasons / holidays? Makes sense for a column that runs for a year. And Quint? I was able to convince myself at the age of 7 that Bruce was in my bath!
Aug. 31, 2008, 10:52 a.m. CST
I say do it Quint. But I think you should always start with a little 'how this might be connected' thing like you do now. Sometimes there'll be nothing, but I'd be willing to bet there'll be connections more often then you'd think.
Aug. 31, 2008, 10:55 a.m. CST
Though Lewton left some poignant footage on the cutting room floor.
Aug. 31, 2008, 11:31 a.m. CST
Why do the living fear the dead, when the living are the ones who are still alive? Profound...and stolen from Plan 9 from Outer Space.
You'll have to start breaking the rules if you want to keep this up -- I think watching a movie a day is more important than, say, keeping up the connections between the movies, which, if you're going by your own collection, there HAS to be a point where a connection can't be made anymore (right?). Same with horror flicks -- if you say you're going to watch all horror flicks, you don't want to watch yourself into a corner and give up as a result. The important thing here is to keep the column/movie watching going, not "following the rules."
Aug. 31, 2008, 2:30 p.m. CST
The little girl is absolutely remarkable and gives such a great performance. Also terrific is Elizabeth Russell, who made a big impact in "Cat People" with a very small scene. Here, she has a lot more to do and a much more definied character to play, and she's very good. Russell also turns up in "The 7th Victim", which is probably her best performance in a Lewton picture. As with all the Lewton films, there's a very real and believable world created for the story to take place in, and its very easy to get drawn into the Sleepy Hollow of "Curse of the Cat People". In my mind, its more of a sad fairy tale than a horror movie, about a little girl occupying that period of one's life where the world isn't quite real yet, and its beautifully dramatized in the scene where Irena first appears - a shot of AMY's POV of the back yard, where there's a sudden shift in the stage lighting that's like the sun breaking through the clouds, and Irena appears, looking not unlike a fairy godmother from child's bedtime story. Its a magical moment in the film and one that stuck with me.
Aug. 31, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST
... have been giving aicn recently, I've just got to say, Quint, that this series of articles has been some of the best stuff in the site's history. Good work! I've discovered a lot of good older flicks that I never would have thought to pick up before.
Aug. 31, 2008, 7:27 p.m. CST
I love the idea for October, but I'm surprised you have 31 horror/thrillers in your possession that you haven't watched. If that's the case, then I thought the 20 movies I have but haven't watched was a lot!!
Aug. 31, 2008, 9:07 p.m. CST
I really like Targets. Really interesting movie.
Sept. 1, 2008, 3:47 a.m. CST
But I never saw the sequel. Sounds like I didn't miss much...
Sept. 1, 2008, 11:45 p.m. CST
Nov. 8, 2008, 11:49 a.m. CST
The source for the screenplay was, if I recall correctly, a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson called 'Amy and Her Friend". Lovely movie.