Curse of the Cat People


 Young Amy Reed (ANN CARTER) knows that one of the many benefits of being a child is that the line between reality and fantasy is easily crossed. Trouble is, she’s having problems navigating the return trip. This not only irks the ire of her fellow classmates, but also severely disappoints her father Oliver (KENT SMITH). Unfortunately his daughter’s flights of fancy echo those of his deceased ex-wife Irena (SIMONE SIMON) who, in his mind, also had difficulty keeping her feet on the ground of provable reality. Making matters exceedingly worse is that Amy’s new secret, make-pretend play pal is dead Irena herself! Father and daughter battle wills. Oliver sees Amy as a dreamy headed liar and Amy is crushed that he has no faith in her. Irena’s presence is actually surprisingly nurturing  all things considered (she tried to off Amy’s mom in the original CAT PEOPLE), and she takes on a guardian angel type role for the girl. The real danger lies in the gothic mansion Amy has been visiting. Scary old lady Farren is harmless, but her estranged jealous daughter (equally feline ELIZABETH RUSSELL) sees Amy as a threat coming between her and the mother who denies her. Producer VAL LEWTON went out of his way NOT to deliver the psychosexual horror sequel audiences (and RKO) were clawing for. Instead he delivers a personal film about miscommunication between parents and their children and the ominous scary world such conflict breeds. True, it’s not the full on horror show its predecessor was, but for those who beg for originality in a sequel your wish has been granted. Strangely, because of this difference in tone, some have even questioned if CURSE is indeed a horror film at all. Well, it’s partially directed by ROBERT WISE (THE HAUNTING) and involves a ghost, a traditional looking haunted house, the headless horseman and a sinister looking spinster bent on strangling a kid. You may not find the interiors running red with blood, but they are soaked in the darkest shadows ever filmed. Like little Amy, what you see within those shadows is up to you. CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE is a real groundbreaker when it comes to showing the inner workings of a trouble youngster’s mind (PAN’S LABYRINTH owes a debt). It is sensitive, even delicate, but that does not disqualify it as a horror film. Any child could tell you that. indelible scenes   

  • Irena’s first ethereal appearance
  • The magic tree mailbox is on the fritz!
  • Irena’s picture burning in the fireplace
  • As with all VAL LEWTON’s films, the cinematography through out is uniformly exquisite but Amy’s flight from imagined danger through a snowstorm is especially breathtaking



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