Cat People (1942)


Want to See

Critic Consensus: Influential noir director Jacques Tourneau infused this sexy, moody horror film with some sly commentary about the psychology and the taboos of desire.

Movie Info

A beautiful young fashion designer comes to believe that she is a Cat Woman, a descendant of a mysterious European tribe, who is able to transform into a vicious panther when threatened. This extremely eerie classic of the horror genre stresses psychology, atmosphere, and suspense over more explicit thrills.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: DeWitt Bodeen


as Irena Dubrovna Reed

as Ollie Reed

as Dr. Louis Judd

as Alice Moore

as Commodore

as Carver

as Miss Plunkett

as The Cat Woman

as Zookeeper

as Street Cop

as Mrs. Agnew

as Whistling Cop

as Mounted Cop

as Blondie

as Bus Driver

as Woman

as Sheep Caretaker

as Patient

as Taxi Driver
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Critic Reviews for Cat People

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (5)

This is a weird drama of thrill-chill caliber.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Cat People wasn't frightening like a slasher movie, using shocks and gore, but frightening in an eerie, mysterious way that was hard to define; the screen harbored unseen threats.

Full Review… | September 26, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

More a film about unreasoning fear than the supernatural, this work demonstrates what a filmmaker can accomplish when he substitutes taste and intelligence for special effects.

Full Review… | September 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

First in the wondrous series of B movies in which Val Lewton elaborated his principle of horrors imagined rather than seen, with a superbly judged performance from Simon.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Ladies who have such temptations -- in straight horror pictures, at least -- should exercise their digits a bit more freely than does Simone Simon in this film.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

It's psychological horror at its finest: timelessly terrifying and absolutely purr-fect.

Full Review… | October 14, 2014
Total Film

Audience Reviews for Cat People

Based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name, "The Black Cat" has a plot that many will not pay attention to. The real draw is having Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) onscreen, together, portrayed as foes.


Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

I've always wanted to see this because I enjoyed the 1982 version of the same movie. I liked the '82 version more. This movie creates the setting that the scary parts are in your mind, not using visual blood and gore on screen. But the story seemed quite simplistic (maybe because I knew the story already??)

Red Lats

Super Reviewer


Oliver meets Irena at the zoo drawing pictures of the black panther, and the two strike up a quick friendship. Back at her place, she explains she comes from a cursed village in Serbia, where men turn into great cats whenever their passions rise. Even though Oliver finds the story odd, he still romances Irena and soon the two are getting married. Irena however, will not so much as kiss her new husband, for fear the curse will strike her and she'll murder him in the heat of the moment. Is it just a matter of time before Oliver finds himself spending more time with his assistant Alice (Jane Randolph), the sweet, american girl who has already professed her love for him?

Cat People was filmed on a very low budget and this lead to great economic measures at the time. Director Jacques Tourneur makes great use out of his "lack" of available lighting, creating dark alleyways and spooky office buildings that have been closed up for the night. And let's not forget the pool scene, as Alice hears the growl of a jungle cat reverberate off the walls of the pool, but can see only shadows reflecting off the water. And what is the underlying message here? Is it about the dangers of sex or the dangers of abstinance? A woman who can't fulfill her wifely duties isn't really a wife at all, or a man who can't control his passions will find them blowing up in his face. It's a bit of weird 1940s fetish-ism.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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