Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Pussy has Claws

Cat People 1982
Director: Paul Schrader
Writer: Alan Ormsby
Starring Nasttajja Kinski, Malcolm Mcdowell, John Heard, Annette O'toole, Ruby Dee and Ed Begley jr

Horror and sex are a potent combination, but do not always go together well, Andy Warhol's Dracula and Frankenstein films are good examples of that. But the remake of Cat People by Paul Schrader, I feel is one of the first good examples of a happy marriage between horror and sex, that we would not see again till Clive Barker's Hellraiser. The feeling of sexual need and anticipation permeates throughout this entire movie and I think without the sexual aspect of the story the film would not work nearly as well.
The plot consists of Irina (Kinski) who arrives in New Orleans to meet her brother who she has just discovered as she was raised in foster homes. Paul (Mcdowell) is her brother and he takes her to his home and she gets settled in but things start getting strange and Paul disappears and then there is a black panther found in a slum hotel that attacks a hooker. A zoo curator, Oliver (Heard) comes with his crew to take out the Panther and catches it and brings it back to his facility. Irina follows the panther drawn by some primal instinct and meets Oliver and begins to fall for him. Soon though, the panther kills one of his workers and then escapes and is finally killed after it kills another woman but not before telling Irina that they are brother and sister and telling her they must have sex or they will change into panthers whenever they have sex with another person and cannot change back till they kill. The rest of the story deals with Irina trying to come to terms with her newfound dilemma.
This is really a mesmerizing film. Whenever kinski is on the screen you are glued to her every move. She is just so dynamic and very sensual. Paul Schrader does an excellent job with the film and it is by far my favorite film that he is done. The cinematography is great especially the opening sequence and Irina's dream sequence. They both have an ethereal quality to them. The writing by Ormsby is tight too, he wrote Deranged the 70's take on Ed Gein and he does a great job with this material as well. The acting talent is great in this too Mcdowell gives my 2nd favorite performance of his after Clockwork Orange, and Heard is good as the protagonist. Ruby Dee is great as the caretaker of Mcdowell and Annette O'toole is great as the other love interest and is very sexy as well especially during the pool scene. The special effects are good too, especially the transformation from human to cat for Kinski and the arm coming out of the cat during the autopsy scene. I have never really had any love for the original, as I am not a fan of implied stuff, it just seems to me to be the lazy way for a director to get his point across. I also think the film has a lot of similarities to American Werewolf in London, but they do it differently enough that you do not really mind it. I really see this film as a minor classic of the 80's.
This one gets 4 claws out of 5

No comments: