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Cat People

D: Paul Shrader C: Nastassia Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard

In the forties, Val Lewton created a whole new genre, its monsters no longer relying on heavy makeup. Accordingly, the cat people appear alternatively as normal humans and normal panthers – no transformation is witnessed, even by the audience, and through most of the picture it is unclear, if one such even occurs.

In fact, this is what all Lewton’s movies are about, the possible existence of the supernatural, always lurking in the shadows. Unsurprisingly, the 1982 version manages to get all this impeccably wrong.

Instead of the sexual overtones of the first movie, we get softcore porn, the tying down of Nastassja Kinski before being covered by John Heard’s lilywhite bottom easily the least erotic bondage scene in cinematic history. Kinski as such, of course, can only be of interest to closeted homosexuals.

The premise of the cat girl driven to mauling her lovers has been turned into pure and utter nonsense, the director choosing instead to rely on graphic splatter effects. I would compare it to watching FRANKENSTEIN remade as LASSIE.

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