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Cat People

Movie Information

In Brief: Make-up showing of the canceled December screening. The first and in some ways the best (certainly it made the most money) of the famous series of nine movies made by producer Val Lewton at RKO in the 1940s, Cat People (1942) offered audiences something a little different in that it suggested more than it depicted its horrors. (Ironically, it also introduced a new kind of shock effect — one still in use today.) The story of a young Serbian immigrant (Simone Simon) who believes she will turn into a cat (panther) should her husband (Kent Smith) make love to her wasn't quite like any horror movie before — nor was the film's psychological approach. The style would soon become its own formula — just as predictable as that of those it was trying to supplant — but here it's fresh and effective.
Score:

Genre: Horror
Director: Jacques Tourneur (Night of the Demon)
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt
Rated: NR

From the original review: Though they had made a few movies in the early 1930s that could be considered horror, RKO never really carved out a niche in the genre until 1942 when producer Val Lewton’s B-picture unit came up with Cat People. It offered something new in the realm of horror — and something that looked even newer in 1942 than it might have 10 years earlier. Bear in mind that at the time Cat People came out, horror was pretty much identified with those slick — but rather silly — Universal programmers that were coin of the realm during what is called the “silver era” of horror (tin seems a more apt metal). The mere fact that Lewton’s outfit was making serious horror was refreshing. That they managed to make it out of something called Cat People (RKO wanted a Wolf Man-like title) really took the world by surprise. It took RKO by surprise, too, when Lewton — with more than a little help from director Jacques Tourneur and screenwriter Dewitt Bodeen — handed them a movie that didn’t really have a monster in the traditional sense. They weren’t happy — that is, until the movie turned out to be a massive hit for very little money.

Full review here

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Cat People Thursday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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