I Can’t Escape Without You

Cat People Review

I’ve always loved werewolf movies, so naturally I would be attracted to any film involving these creatures in any way. While Paul Schrader’s Cat People is more concerned with cats than wolves, it is still a great entry in the ‘were’ subgenre and has more going for it than just your average tear-em-up creature flick.

There’s more to this 1982 werecat film than may be apparent on the surface. While it does contain the elements you’ve come to expect in a film of this nature (i.e. vicious kills), it also takes a different approach. Paul Schrader and his team of writers were more concerned with the telling of a love story surrounded by obsession and restraint than just another werewolf movie.

With some deep and rich colors, we are thrown into an ancient time where humans were offered to these black leopard beasts. Cut forward many years and we are introduced to Irena (Nastassja Kinski) who has just arrived in New Orleans to stay with her long-lost, strangely creepy brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange). It doesn’t take long for us to find out that Paul has the ability to transform himself into a black leopard, which seems to want to rip apart anybody he comes in contact with. In hopes of convincing Irena to be his mate and return to their kind, Paul tries to lure Irena back to the truth he knows she has felt her entire life.

I feel both McDowell and Kinski did a wonderful job. McDowell is perfect as the animalistic Paul who has accepted his fate. With every scene, you are convinced he really is this mad half-man half-animal. Kinski’s character is much different, however. We get to watch as Irena evolves many times throughout this 118 minute film. From the innocent virgin, to the confused tourist fascinated by animals, to finally, the sexual seductress who has, too, accepted her rightful path, Kinski plays the role perfectly.

Every fan of ‘were’ films knows that one of the best things about a film like this is the transformation scene. Let me assure you that although it is rather short, we do get to see some pretty amazing transformation effects take place in the final act of the film.

If you want to see a more intelligent take on the werewolf genre, do yourself a favor and give Cat People a watch. For a great transfer and some cool bonus content, including interviews with the cast, be sure to pick up Shout! Factory’s recent release.

I give this film 3 tranquilizers out of 5.

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