"Cat People (1982)"
Shout! Factory Blu-Ray Special Edition Review
Starring Malcolm McDowell, Nastassja Kinski,
John Heard and Annette O'Toole
Directed By Paul Schrader
COLOR/1982/1 HOUR 59 MINUTES/RATED R
Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
In the early 1980's remakes were very uncommon and infrequent as they are today (we had actual original writing back then) and when they were done, it was to update a film that was deemed worth of a remake to utilize the latest Special Effects techniques or create a fresh contemporary story that has something to say about a particular subject. Paul Schrader's "Cat People" is one such film and also one of three remakes that Universal Pictures participated in with "An American Werewolf In London" in 1981 (a remake of the "Wolfman") and John Carpenter's "The Thing" (a remake of "Thing From Another World") that was released during the Summer long after this film was released. The film tells the story of Irena (the beautiful and alluring Nastassja Kinski, "Tess") a young woman who arrives in New Orleans to meet with her brother Paul ("A Clockwork Orange's Malcolm McDowell), a local priest after not having seen each other for a really long time. Irena starts to enjoy her new surroundings and after visiting the local zoo one afternoon, she wins the affections of the kindly curator Oliver (John Heard, "Big") who offers her a job at the gift shop which she happily accepts.
Strange goings on abound when a prostitute is murdered in a hotel room seemingly by a black leopard panther along with a guard at the zoo Irena is working in. Irena has her own deep secrets as she starts to lose her sense of her own body and nature as it soon revealed that she and her brother are breeds of black leopard cats whom their parents had paid homage to along with the fact that they can only mate with one another in order to survive as well as murder to regain their human form. This also puts the budding love between both Oliver and Irena that had been developing through most of the film that ends with a rather downbeat and somewhat tragic ending. The film really has an intriguing take on incest and the sexual passions that people try to downplay or surpress personally.
The film is visually stunning and well shot by Director of Photography John Bailey which makes great use of shadows and light to an excellent effect and it translates to a very solid, but grainy looking picture (remember this was shot in 1981) which adds to the mood and atmosphere of the film and what Schrader was trying to accomplish stylistically. The film clearly belongs to Kinski and McDowell who really are perfectly cast here and Kinski looks so radiant and alluring that you just want to just watch her and take a shower soon after. John Heard and Annette O'Toole ("Smallville") are also excellent here and do add depth to the opposite end of the story which is a positive thing.
This Special Edition Blu-Ray about to be released by Shout! is a very solid release that features a nice and solid picture and a major step up from the original Universal DVD which was very good for its' time and the sound is also very sharp with Georgio Moroder's moody, synthesizer score really blaring when it appears capturing the mood and essence of Schrader's atmosphere and the city of New Orleans which does play a great background character to great effect.
The special features included on this Blu-Ray surprisingly aren't as special as you'd expect with a nice set of brand new interviews with writer/director Paul Schrader, Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Annette O’Toole, Lynn Lowry and composer Giorgio Moroder that do add up to a nice retrospective on the film over 30 years later. Along with this, the disc also includes a Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery and a TV Spot.
Glaringly missing is the commentary by Schrader that was featured on the 2002 Universal DVD as well as the German Blu-Ray release which was very is dry and informative. That disc also featured a few retrospective documentaries that are also only available on that release. Why they weren't included here, I don't have a clue yet they are glaringly noticeable as Shout! has been packing these Special Edition Blu-Ray's with great contents of extras on most of their releases.
Despite the real lack of extra, extras this disc is a very solid release that features a very solid film that isn't a horror film per se, but when it is, it is very stylish, sexy and really plays psychological tricks with you that are quite effective which is what Director Paul Schrader was going for and succeeds. It definitely worked with me. Thumbs up.
Below is a link to the original review by the late Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert regarding the film which they gave two thumbs up!: