Cat People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cat People Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ August 21, 2017
'Cat People' is a great concept for a horror movie, even if it does seem like a knock-off (and mirror) of the Wolfman genre. It also has a couple of very nice moments of suspense when the Cat Woman stalks her husband's girlfriend, one in which a bus abruptly pulls up (thenceforth known as a 'Lewton Bus') and another in a dark, creepy pool. It is unfortunate, however, that some of the tension is missing in the first half of the film because we clearly know what's going on with this young woman, and why she won't get intimate with her husband. The film also lacks the slinky sexiness you'd expect from a woman who turns into a black panther when sexually aroused or angered, some of which can be attributed to the production code at the time, and some of which are due to director Jacques Tourneur and his leading lady Simone Simon. It is understated for sure, and it's admirable that it relies on suggestion rather than showing us graphic violence. With the exception of those fantastic stalking scenes, though, it's almost too minimalistic. I can forgive it for being bare bones and for being short at 73 minutes, but have to knock it down a bit for the lack of passion in all of its main characters. Certainly worth watching though.
August 8, 2017
Neurotic ice queen, afraid that she'll kill whoever she screws, stalks her husband whenever he hangs out with his sane female friend.
½ March 31, 2017
9.5 out of 10:

A pretty creepy movie with great acting, suspense, and a smart story that inspired many other psychological horror movies.
March 7, 2017
absolutely loved it - classic horror flick, good plot, brilliant casting. recommend highly
½ January 28, 2017
The title says it all! Who in their right mind would watch a movie called cat people? It smells like a litter box.
January 7, 2017
This classic horror film is from Jacques Torneur who directed the classic film-noir "Out of the Past", and it's produced by Val Lewton who had a real know for producing low budget but quality films. This movie is also a favourite of Martin Scorsese. I loved this movie, the look and atmosphere is amazing and Simone Simon has real presence. The film works as it leaves a lot of the scares to the imagination, bot the case with Paul Schrader's 1982 remake of the same name. Criterion Collection released this and it looks stunning. Highly recommended!
December 18, 2016
A very good noir film, with a lot of complex characters. But I don't know if I could consider this a horror movie.
½ December 15, 2016
In Hollywood, remakes seem to proliferate faster than a virus. The most unfortunate thing about this trend is that all too often the original movie is forgotten. Making this situation worse is the fact that often the original film Is far superior in quality. True aficionados of the film are grateful that they remain distributors such as the Criterion Collection more dedicated to preserving the history of the cinematic arts. One of the latest inclusions to their list is 1942, 'Cat People,' which was remade 40 years later into something closer to softcore erotica in the taut psychological thriller that allows the original to remain the great films of this day. This film is a masterful blend of several genres, but rather than doing a mediocre job with each the filmmaker, Jacques Tourneur, managed to achieve the synergy that has rarely matched. The film considered here is a classic horror film that is devoid of all the elements that currently make up ever popular slasher flicks turning instead to subtle manipulation. The primitive fears each of us harbors in the deep recesses of our mind. While many movies attempt to generate fear to a variety of methods, ultimately, this movie is the very essence of fright and terror. There been several over digital releases of this film over the years and I've been waiting for it to become part of the illustrious Criterion Collection for some years. It is a timeless example of a master class filmmaker from the Golden Age of Hollywood. This focus was from Italy in horror movies. But once again, it has to be kept in mind that what was considered horror in the 1940s is vastly different than what passes for the genre today. Mr. Tourneur plied his craft long before special effects became such an integral part of the horror movie. He made amazing use of the black-and-white format that was available to all filmmakers then. While watching this film take careful note of his use of shadows, as fear envelops you will begin to imagine something evil and deadly lurking in every dark corner.

The film opens with a rather idyllic moment as Serbian-born fashion designer Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) is in the large cat area of the Central Park Zoo sketching a large Black Panther.She is Unaware that she is has caught the attention of another visitor. Irene was quite attractive, so it is no wonder that Marine engineer Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) moves closer and strikes up a conversation with her. The encounter is amiable, and Irena invites him to her apartment for some tea. As they walk away. She dropped the sketches; one depicting a medieval horseman as he impales a large, predatory cat on his sword. Juxtaposing such a brutally macabre image with a beautiful young woman immediately lays the groundwork for what is to come. Sometimes beneath the veneer of beauty resides a dark secret. The audience doesn't have to wait long for something relating to the unsettling sketch. At her apartment, Oliver notices a statue of a medieval horseman impaling a large cat with his sword. Irena explains that the man is King John of Serbia slaying the embodiment of evil. She continued that early Christians seduced into the black arts by the Mameluks, a warrior caste originating in Egypt. The King drove out the invaders. Since the villages were all corrupted by the evil, the King had all of them slaughtered. The legend continues that the most wicked and wisest of the Mamluks were able to flee to safety in the mountains.

Oliver continues to see Irina buying her a kitten as a token of his affection. The gift was not well received as he had hoped. As soon as the kitten is brought closer to Irena, it begins to pull away hissing. She tries to deflect the incident brushing it off as "cats dislike me." Irena accompanies Oliver to the pet store to return the kitten but as soon as they enter all of the animals react with a combination of fear and anger. Even this early in the movie the audience has been inexorably pulled into the mysterious aura of this young woman. Every scene introduces another piece of the puzzle but at this point, the overall picture remains frustratingly just out of reach. Irena has some peculiar and arcane beliefs, but Oliver has fallen in love with her. He proposes and she accepts and soon the audience is watching them at their wedding dinner held at an ethnic Siberian restaurant. Some of the plot points appear to develop too quickly but after all the running time is under 80 minutes. Some directors would consider such a constraint an obstacle by much of Mr. Tourneur's early career was directing short films. The training he received from these projects has provided him with an extraordinary sense of economy when telling a story. Reinforcing this expertise was contributed to the project by the screenwriter, DeWitt Bodeen. Much of his work was in the dramatic anthology series popular during those nascent days of television. These series brought quality entertainment into the living room and were the training ground for many of the best directors, writers, and actors for the coming generation.

The initial infusion of the supernatural occurs at the wedding dinner. A woman of distinctively feline appearance interrupts the festivities asking the bride in a Slavic language if they were sisters, giving Irena such a pronounced sense that there is a great evil lurking within her. The feeling was powerful that it was not possible to consummate the marriage on the wedding night. Oliver believes this was a reaction to her deeply traumatic childhood. Later, Oliver's assistant at work, Alice Moore (Jane Randolph) confesses that she has romantic feelings for him, a revelation which would have been more appropriate before the wedding, becoming the catalyst that finally brings the hidden danger that Irena dreaded to the surface. During this section of the film, there is the perfect opportunity to contrast the original with the 1982 remake. Alice decides to take a swim in the pool located in the basement of her apartment building. There she is stalked by the shadow obviously cast by some large, predatory cat. In the remake, the actress portraying Alice is skinny dipping, and the Panther clearly showed. What had been a scene wrought with suspense, mystery, and terror diluted by presenting it as a puerile excuse to include yet another example of gratuitous nudity into a movie already pandering to the salacious expectations of high school boys sneaking into an R rated movie.

This film is such an incredible example of why a physiologically driven horror movie is far superior to the gory, visceral construction popular in many modern movies. This film had a minuscule budget of about $135,000 and grossed over $4 million at the box office. Of course, that is in 1942 dollars. If you are interested in a horror film/thriller that is devoid of most special effects, gore or the other affectations required by slasher flicks, this is mandatory to see. The film was completely dependent on the combined talents on both sides of the camera to create a frightening that remains effective almost 75 years later.
½ October 7, 2016
Hih, "kauhu"leffa 40-luvulta. (Suom. Kissaihmisiš)
½ July 15, 2016
Stylish direction, atmospheric photography, plot which implies more than it features. Cat People is creepy as much as melancholy. 9/10
½ July 14, 2016
Stylish direction, atmospheric photography, plot which implies more than it features. Cat People is creepy as much as melancholy. 9/10
½ June 12, 2016
Brooding, atmospheric classic 1940s horror with some memorable set pieces. An absolute classic of the genre.
May 26, 2016
Another lost rating Flixster.

It was bizarre, but fascinating. I loved the Serbian aspect to it.
April 24, 2016
Fantastic movie. Really stays psychological for as long as it possibly can, and I found it pretty damn relatable, which surprised me. It reminded me a lot of an ex of mine.
½ April 14, 2016
The first of a magnificent series of horror films produced by Val Lewton for RKO. It's not among my favourite of his films, but it has a lot going for it. Jacques Tourneur was one of the more talented directors to work with Lewton, and he creates a wonderful atmosphere of dread. The film has some incredible sequences that have been copied so often, they seem cliched when seen these days, but they are among the best slow burns in the genre. My issue with the film is that the narrative slows to a crawl in the middle third, and the lead male character is an incredibly clueless dud. I so dislike him, I have trouble getting into much of the story.
½ March 30, 2016
An excellent, atmospheric horror film about the danger of mind over matter, and the difficulties we face in overcoming our destinies. Truth be told, though, I wouldn't have given Irena's character a second glance--I would have been with Alice all the way! =)
½ March 14, 2016
Classic horror from Tourneur - photographed with languorous style.
March 6, 2016
A bit Corny,but charming
February 8, 2016
I was expecting more from what I thought was a classic horror film. There is no horror here, and very little suspense. How this film developed such a reputation is beyond me. The film does not hold up such as many other classic horrors such as Frankenstein, Nosferatu, etc.
½ November 4, 2015
Patiently executed and cleverly written for an average B horror flick at its age in style. (B)

(Full review coming soon)
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