Cat People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cat People Reviews

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½ February 24, 2018
Great opening with a red former world set piece that still impresses today on screen. But this one quickly fizzles from old 80s greatness to elongated sequences of nudity and dark scenes that evolve into blank stares into mirrors or the camera. I still remember the chilling arm loss scene from when I 1st saw this as a kid but now the zoo sequence, exchanging of boyfriend Jon Heard and incest filled script which is the only reason McDowell is in this one. Kenski is still stunning on-screen but this plot is as bad as the still frame that waits for the Bowie lyric to kick in appropriately. Crazy goofy but it had potential in 80s shlock & tone.
½ November 23, 2017
I'd forgotten what a dirty, kinky movie this was! Nastassja Kinski plays a young woman reconnecting with her priest brother, the perennially off-kilter Malcolm McDowell. Without spoiling too much of the plot, after the two reconnect, McDowell meets a prostitute in a hotel room, only for her to instead get mauled and killed by a black panther. Kinski awakens the next day to find her brother missing and while visiting the zoo finds herself strangely connected to the new panther exhibit. Kinski then meets zoologist John Heard and the two being a romantic affair, which leads to a sexual awakening for Kinski, filled with love making, bondage, and incest. The film is a wild ride and one that I think only gets better with age. Back when I first saw this film, I remember seeing it as slick filmmaking, but rewatching it years later I can see how director Paul Schrader's was influenced by the film of Jean Cocteau in it's dreamlike nature. Schrader brings a hypnotic surreality to his erotic horror film that like many a nightmare, cannot be shaken off easily. "Cat People" also benefits from a strong supporting cast that includes Annette O'Toole, Ruby Dee, Ed Begley Jr., John Larroquette, Frankie Faison, Scott Paulin, and Ray Wise. And in rewatching the film now, the film gets a lot of milage from 80s nostalgia, featuring a great Davie Bowie theme song, a terrific synthesizer score from Giorgio Moroder, wonderfully slick blood red cinematography by John Bailey, and also Nastassja Kinski's super cute Human League short haircut. Overall, "Cat People" is a unique horror film experience, but it's a very dark and twisted one that will not appeal to most audiences, riding that fine line between arthouse and grindhouse, where it's likely too arty for horror fans and too bloody and dirty for the arthouse intelligencia, leaving a narrow band of folks who enjoy what it has to offer.
½ October 29, 2017
Meh. Don't really understand all the fuss. It has it's moments, but I wouldn't bother to rewatch. There isn't much to figure out, but it wasn't too bad for an afternoon flick where you can turn your brain off.
October 10, 2017
Esthetically the film is interesting, at times decently shoot, and while the premise (just as the original classic) offers a rather promising plot, it loses its hooking with an absurd series of performances and poorly executed use of suspense and thrills, wasting a huge potential with someone like Malcolm McDowell and John Heard in the casting, becoming a big misfire from director Paul Schrader, as well as a forgettable remake.
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2017
You'll either find it's pseudo art house style and psychosexual thriller plot intriguing or laughable. I fall into the former but wouldn't blame anyone for dismissing it. Ultimately I think Schrader does a good job of expanding on the original's premise and having Kinski didn't hurt.
August 1, 2017
3.0/5.0 stars - Grade: C+
May 31, 2017
Surprised the Aud Score is so low. "Cat" has all the pop elements of a big theatrical. Yes, it's nearly a B-movie in a few respects and yet it's something of a classic, too, still interesting after all these years. The capture of New Orleans before the massive state incentives for movie production lent an authenticity to the dark undertones of the location. It's sort of interesting, too, to have such a thorough documentation of a well-cast beauty, Kinski at age 20-21, along with the rest of the good cast. As stated, "Cat People" almost achieves classic status - as it surely does "cult classic." Oh, and the unique soundtrack, the best use of early synthesized musical sound in a score that is still seductive after more than 3-decades.
½ October 22, 2016
Natassia Kinski looks stunning in this film and Malcolm McDowell is his bizarre self.
Had some really cool ideas and a fair amount of nudity.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2016
After a slow start, the terrific make up effects and Kinski's ample nudity maintain a level of interest. I always assumed it would be a bit more stylized than it was, although there are some great visuals. The cast performs admirably and the Moroder soundtrack (with David Bowie song) is amazing. A mixed bag of tricks.
July 20, 2016
The mystique of the original is gone, sadly, but the movie has something on its own right, like the still fascinating story of the panthers and, of course, Nastassja Kinski.
March 21, 2016
Beautifully shot and deliciously erotic, this extremely colorful and interesting venture into the fantastic genre, is a hypnotic travel through desire, hidden nature and sexual empowerment. Scored masterfully, the film is as much a delight to watch than to to listen to. Schrader has crafted a great film, disturbing, mysterious and bodacious.
March 18, 2016
'Cat People' is a highly stylized erotic thriller that is somewhat aimless, but still sufficiently mind-bending. It's a compelling fusion of creature feature carnage and psychological horror, and the score, in particular, is outstanding.
February 27, 2016
First saw this as a kid, and I hadn't seen it since so it was worth re-watching. Paul Schrader who wrote "Taxi Driver" directs this atmospheric horror film. It has an interesting cast starring Kinski, McDowell and Heard, but also features Ruby Dee, John Laroquette and Ed Begley Jr. The cinematography and score by Moroder are the best things about this, and the theme song by David Bowie.. it's not a great movie but has enough going for it to make it worth a watch for fans of the genre.
½ February 3, 2016
This is a crazy and ridiculous film, and it must be seen to be believed. I enjoyed every lurid, melodramatic minute of it. It's gorgeous to look at, as well.
January 3, 2016
Right from the beginning, this film seemed like a very interesting film, and in all honesty, it is. I've heard that this is a loose adaptation of an older film of the same name, but I'm not here to compare the two, especially since I find this one more interesting. This film tries its best to be a different kind of horror film, with a narrative centring on a kind of mystique, and with an approach that emphasizes on skin rather than blood. That being said, however, despite the director's best efforts, the film finds itself in a bit of a bind in terms of direction. As a horror film, it's way too subtle to yield any direct chills, which would have worked well alongside its subtler fare, but its biggest problem is the plot. It opens with a scene that shows a woman being sacrificed to a leopard, and eventually transitions into the modern day setting, and for a time, the plot is pretty hard to follow. Eventually, you start hearing about the race of werecats, which explain the various leopard-related killings seen throughout the film, and even then, it's a good concept, but it's not executed very well. In this regard, I think this is because the film hides too much of what you might need to know. On the plus side, the film paces itself for long enough to create a level of intrigue that drives the plot forward. In a sense, the film is driven by mystique, and it's filled with surprises along the way, including the film's unexpected ending. The characters deliver good performances, but they don't do a lot to grab attention. The film's two lead characters, however, outperform all the others in the film, delivering splendid performances that are often as slick as the feline forms they often assume. In a way, the film illustrates the overall character of the film - slick yet animalistic. This character is also illustrated in how the film presents itself. The production values are fairly standard stuff for their time, but the film truly shines when day turns to night. The film also sports a lovely electronic soundtrack that creates a nice atmosphere for the film. Of course, the film opens with the signature song "Cat People", composed specifically for the film by David Bowie, whose music and vocals set a haunting mood for the opening scene of the film. One other thing that interests me about the film is its blending of horror with erotic fiction. This approach attempts to bring out a sense of primal, animalistic energy, and this was even reflected on the film's tagline ("an erotic fantasy of the animal in us all"). I'd say they've accomplished this with a lot of subtlety, to the point of it being artsy. I could also argue that the film's use of nudity as a primarily symbolic element is another accomplishment, especially as it is contrasted with the sudden gore scenes. It's very stylish and artsy, but it suffers because it's too subtle, and if you look at it seriously, it tends to come across as quite ridiculous softcore porn.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2015
Terrible soft-core porn nonsense.
½ July 31, 2015
Though widely regarded as one of the finest horror films ever made, the original "Cat People", released in 1942, always struck me as a visual masterpiece luminous to the eyes but cold to the touch. It liked to hide in the shadows, keep its menace restrained, its mood gothically opulent; but when it placed fear directly in our line of vision it forgot to match emotionally, emitting a shallow kind of dread felt more cerebrally than physically. Horror should pump in our veins, causing us to look over our shoulder the second the film closes. Yet despite being called a horror film time and time again, I've never much considered "Cat People" to be one. Instead, I've figured it to be a grotesque fantasy of bloodlust and erotica, inventively packaged but too empty to make much of a lasting impression.
Its remake, a 1982 fear-fest directed by Paul Schrader and starring Nastassja Kinski, is similar in its ability to optically arouse but remain intrinsically hollow. Whereas 1942's "Cat People" stimulated our sights with hypnotizing darkness and noir-tinged doom, the 1982 version conversely stupefies with its richly saturated colors and sexual heat. The original had a small budget to work with, director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca perhaps accidentally making things visually unmistakable for the purpose of making up for monetary deficiencies. But Schrader, given larger financial opportunity, is able to work on a much larger scale, providing us with a more plentiful plot, more ocular risks, more enigmatic intrigue. I can hardly say if it's superior to its '42 counterpart - they hardly resemble one another, one restrained, one indulgent - but "Cat People" is an artistically formidable fantasy mostly worthwhile. If its overwhelming inability to do anything besides look great wasn't such a pressing issue, it could be considered a masterpiece.
But the storyline doesn't allow us to become emotionally invested; conceptually marvelous yet unmistakably outlandish, it is difficult to do anything besides stare, mouth agape, unable to grab onto anything happening on the screen. Because it has to do with The Cat People, a race of centuries past so far evolved that, as of 1982, they resemble sexy humans who literally have an animal deep inside them. But things aren't as simple as they used to be: years ago, when The Cat People were still dominant cats that laboriously reclined on tree branches in windy red deserts (shown in the form of a prologue), mating would come in the form of a female sacrifice from a nearby village. Now, though, the race is almost completely extinct, save for Irena (Nastassja Kinski) and her brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell).
In the first few minutes of "Cat People", the two are meeting for the very first time - and while the impish Irena, sensuous but virginal, remains an innocent figurehead, Paul makes for a more sinister presence, not because he's a Shakespearean villain in the making but because he's more aware of his heritage than Irena is. In everyday life, The Cat People look like anybody walking down the street; but when in the throes of an orgasm, they transform from sexy human to black panther, killing their human mate in the process. Paul understands his threat to society and isn't afraid to utilize it; Irena, on the other hand, is afraid to unleash the beast that resides within her.
The anxiety comes to a head, however, when she falls into the life of Oliver Yates (John Heard), a mild-mannered zookeeper who instantaneously bills her as the woman of his dreams. With her sexual nightmares looming in the background (and not to mention her brother, who wants to embark on an incestuous relationship like all Cat People before them), Irena just might have to accept who she is - at a price.
The plot is less preposterous the less you think about it; this is, after all, the kind of film that thrives on eccentric chills that trickle down the spine, expecting us to come along for the dangerous ride and forget about any sort of question we might have. Thanks to Schrader's knowing handling of the material (he treats most of "Cat People" like an erotic art house picture, which is more fitting than something akin to a more conventional horror movie), the film doesn't face many concerns when it comes to structure. The problem with "Cat People" is its futile characterizations, which allows for interesting characters more fascinating to look at than to actually care about. Irena is fearful for what will become of her, but because the screenplay is more interested in giving Kinski ample opportunity to smolder, never is the impression quite made; Paul is maleficent, but it's unclear where his villainy will go. And Oliver, taking over Kent Smith's role from the original, is drawn out blandly. The actors are all lensed brilliantly - it's a shame they all remain so one-dimensional than even the more erotic elements of "Cat People" are slightly unexciting.
But when John Bailey's cinematography isn't seducing our eyes, Kinski makes for the best thing about the film. A better actress than Simone Simon, she makes it impossible for us not to look at her; her full lips, sphinxy eyes, and Audrey Hepburn-like demeanor makes her a lithe sex object far too knowing to be exploited - she is magnificent. And for the most part, so is "Cat People". But it's so devoid of any kind of emotional interior that any sort of reaction is kept hidden. Fear? Arousal? Allure? It all wants to be there, but "Cat People" remains a devastatingly beautiful film without a heart.
July 23, 2015
Paul Schrader's experimental remake of the classic old movie remains a potent movie. Filled with erotic-intensity, paranoia and impossibly cool shade - "Cat People" is a tawdry, encaging , sexy, depraved, twisted and fun movie.

Natassja Kinski brings her alluring presence which effortlessly blends with Malcom McDowell's sinister performance. The cinematic metaphors are a bit heavy-handed, but still effective.

Offering a glimpse at a New Orleans long gone, "Cat People" is great movie. The throbbingly incessant Giorgio Moroder score does not seem so much dated as appropriate within the context of this seething seedy movie. As David Bowie croons, this movie is "putting out fire with gasoline." ...and it is much fun to watch.
May 23, 2015
So so movie that starts out REALLY good, then goes downhill for the second half. I do love though, how they took elements, like REALLY minor elements from the original into this (completely original otherwise) story. Natassia Kinski and Malcolm McDowell are ridiculous of course, and watch John Heard try to resist the ridiculousness of the plot and then just says the hell with it.
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