Cat People (1942, black and white)

Cat People
The image above is of the VHS video box – for some reason, this is not available on Region 2 DVD. I love these old classic horror movies – I love many old classic movies; they’re usually called “classic” for a reason (rubbish old movies are normally just forgotten).

This is a creepy horror that puts an interesting spin on the old werewolf story; here, a young Serbian woman (Irena) fears she may be a “cat woman”, the holder of an ancient curse that will activate if she either becomes jealous or if she so much as kisses a man too passionately, turning her into a giant cat forced to kill her rival or lover. When she marries an upright American (Oliver, who also happens to be loved by one of his work colleagues, Alice), her fears prevent her becoming intimate with him, eventually leading Oliver to get closer to Alice.

Is Irena’s curse real or is this just a delusion (you can probably guess!)? It’s a shame that this question is so obviously resolved, and so early, because I thought there was mileage to be had in the question (and because, as so often the case in movies, the only man of reason presented turns out not just to be wrong but also a bit of a cad) but this is a minor quibble because the film is great.

Simone Simon is suitably just-slightly-odd and yet sympathetic and the two other leads are, despite often being cyphers for just basic USain wholesome goodness, also strong. For much of the film, I didn’t know who would still be alive at the end and there are two particularly creepy scenes (both of these were picked out by Mark Gatiss in his ‘History of Horror‘) and a host of other less good but still effective ones.

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