Loosely based on the 1942 horror classic of the same name, Paul Schrader's film is artistically ambitious, but never completely transcends a B-movie sensibility. The film's story follows a reserved, beautiful young woman named Irena Gallier (Nastassja Kinski) who is reunited with her brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) in New Orleans. But Irena is unaware that both she and her brother are cat people, a sort of feline-human hybrid that upon becoming sexually aroused reverts to a violent, animalistic state. When Irena starts working at the local zoo, she starts seeing Oliver Yates (John Heard), a curator there, and her sexuality starts to awaken. In case you haven't seen the movie, I won't describe the story points that follow. But if you use your imagination, some of them won't be too hard to guess.
I found Cat People worth watching, but it was a guilty pleasure. Despite the movie's flaws, the cinematography, production design, music score, performances by McDowell and Kinski, along with the film's overall mood of almost mythic, primal horror, pulled me into the story. Also, there are some stunning, visually arresting moments in this film that kept on surprising me, including a sequence that floored mewhere the camera follows Irena's point of view as she hunts and kills a rabbit. The DVD has a variety of interesting special features which I've outlined below.
DVD Special Features
- Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1
- Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround
- Languages: English
- Captions/Subtitles: English - Captions; Spanish - Subtitulos; French - Sous-Titre
- Feature Audio Commentary by Director Paul Schrader
- Cat People: An Intimate Portrait by Paul Schrader
- On The Set With Director Paul Schrader
- Special Make-Up Effects by Artist Tom Burman
- Cat People Matte Paintings
- Filmmaker Robert Wise on the Producer of the Original Cat People Val Lewton
- Production Notes
- Production Photographs
- Theatrical Trailer