Friday, September 4, 2009

Cat People (1982, Paul Schrader)

After watching Rob Zombie's Halloween and Halloween 2 and seeing Malcolm McDowell steal the show, I decided to check out Cat People again. I had seen him in Caligula and A Clockwork Orange but never realized he was also in Cat People until I saw a still of him turning into a cat on the cover of an old issue of Fangoria. It has been at least 10 years since I saw the film for the first time in High School. Actually the reason I even watched it the first time is because of my 12th grade English Teacher, Mr. Bates (or Master Bates as we'd call him). He mentioned Cat People and how one of the characters got his arm ripped off and you could see the veins and muscles stretching and ripping. That was enough for me to check it out.

Cat People is the story of a girl named Irena (Nastassia Kinski) coming to live with her estranged brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) in New Orleans. It turns out that Paul is a werecat, a man who turns into a panther when he gets laid and must kill a human to turn back into a human himself. Anyway, Paul is captured before he can kill someone, by the zoo's curator Oliver (John Heard) and Irena finds herself at the zoo though she's not sure why, since she doesn't know of Paul's secret yet. Paul the panther manages to kill one of the zookeepers (Ed Begley Jr.) so he can turn back into a human while Irena becomes romantically involved with Oliver. This infuriates Paul who has plans of his own for Irena...but that you have to watch the film to figure out.

Cat People was actually much more enjoyable the second time. The first time I thought it sucked and only really cared about the arm-ripping scene...well, and seeing Nastassia Kinski and Annette O'Toole nekkid. The story and the characters were all interesting and the actors were all very good. McDowell kicked ass as the creepy Paul and Kinski's heroine was great too. I would mention John Heard (the father from Home Alone) but he was one of the stars of C.H.U.D., one of my most hated films so I will not. I will mention Tom Burman though, the makeup effects master who did some really cool effects (see arm-ripping) as well as some fantastic transformations. Overall the film was a little long and slow in places but it was fun and different. Oh and I love the theme song by David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder (which is also being used in Quentin Tarantino's new film Inglourious Basterds).


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