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Curse of the Cat People

Not Cat People. You’ve probably heard of that one, mostly because of the 1982 (sort of) remake. Curse of the Cat People is a (sort of) sequel. It’s a movie I caught once, a thousand years ago on the Late, Late Movie and never forgot. Now, thanks to the Miracle of Amazon I own a copy. Boy, was I not disappointed.

This movie is beautiful to look at, particularly in this clean, silky DVD version. I’ve watched it three times (including the commentary version. I’m a little sorry about that. It explained some things about the plot that I think I liked better unexplained). It’s odd and sweet and really should have been released with a different title.

It’s the story of a dreamy, strange little girl. I mean, strange. None of the kids will play with her and her dad punishes her for playing alone. So she gets an imaginary friend, who turns out to be her dad’s dead first wife (the Cat People lady). Yes. This movie made me go “wait…what?” a lot.

One of the best films I’ve ever seen for capturing the scary, hallucinatory feel of childhood. It’s just too weird and messy to have attained “beloved classic” status. Commentary Guy said people who like this movie really, really like this movie. I guess that’s me. For less than ten bucks on Amazon’s Born Again, you can find out if it’s you.



Comment from mesablue
Time: March 2, 2007, 3:53 am

I’m afraid just reading your captions.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 2, 2007, 11:46 am

Weirdly, it’s not even a horror movie. It’s more of a fairy tale. And the ghost (or hallucination) is one of the nicest things in it.

Comment from Trombonology
Time: March 4, 2007, 3:20 am

“Curse …” is one of my all-time favorite movies! Its producer, Val Lewton, who in all his assignments assumed a far more creative role than the title producer would suggest, wanted to call the film “Amy And Her Friend,” but RKO nixed it, feeling that the thing to do was to try to cash in on the success of its semi-prequel “Cat People.” Lewton, by all accounts, was horrified by cheap implications of “curse.” You may have learned all this from watching the film with the commentary (I always resist the gab track), but I thought I’d mention it just in case this tidbit wasn’t offered.

It’s plainly apparent that behind all the weirdness is the observation that it’s no wonder that there are so many screwed up kids with the parent material out there. Oliver and Alice mean well, but I think they better cultivate that bridge game friendship with Miss Callahan, so they can get a few more pointers on child rearing in between bids.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 4, 2007, 7:16 am

This is the first time I’ve ever listened to a commentary track. Yes, it talked about Val Lewton a lot — this was apparently an intensely personal movie for him. The thing with putting letters in a tree, for example, he actually did as a child — but it was his sister’s birthday party.

This is an alternate ending. The original ending was too upsetting to him; he let the finished film sit around in the can for months while he thought of a way out of it. In the original ending, Crazy Lady doesn’t kill Amy because Irena (it had to be Irena) locks her in her room — thereby providing material proof of the physical existence of the imaginary friend. Irena also gives a lecture about how death isn’t so bad, really.

An entity that doesn’t take form until the little girl sees a picture of a long-dead person; I’m thinking demon here. But I’m over-thinking it, of course.

Nice touch in the released version: the heartwarming scene at the end where daddy pretends to see daughter’s hallucination. Way to reinforce a psychosis, Dad.

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