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Cat People (1942) Review


Good
Long before Nastassja Kinski went catty on us in 1982's Cat People, this Val Lewton original subtly scared the bejesus out of people with its tale of a woman (Simone Simon) who believes she suffers from a curse that can cause her to turn into a panther. Her husband doesn't really buy it, so he sends her to the head shrink... which doesn't really help. Moody and intense, the film is hardly a gore-fest, and the body count is minimal. But the way it messes with your head -- and Jacques Tourneur's deft ability behind the camera -- make it quite the '40s standout.

Continue reading: Cat People (1942) Review

The Curse of the Cat People Review


Grim
This rather silly follow-up to Cat People isn't so much unwatchable as it is merely unnecessary. For starters it's got nothing really to do with the original, focusing on the daughter, Amy, of the heroine from the original. Amy is hallucinating and dreams up an imaginary friend or two: Dad's dead first wife. There's really nothing in here that has to do with cat people, but allegedly the film was used in college psychology classes to study disturbed children. Of course, if that's any benchmark, you should see some of the movies they made me watch in school....

Continue reading: The Curse of the Cat People Review

The Devil and Daniel Webster Review


Extraordinary
It's the 1840s, and times are tough for New Hampshire farmer Jabez Stone, just as they are for other New Englanders. He's a hard-working, God-fearing man, but he's prone to cursing ("consarn it" is his favorite), and he doesn't always find time to attend church on Sundays. He has a good wife (named Mary, of course) and a Bible-reading Ma, but when he can't make his mortgage payments, that just doesn't seem like enough. In Washington, a heroic Massachusetts senator named Daniel Webster is introducing legislation that will ease his plight. But in the meantime, what's a working man to do?

In this folklore New England, the devil is a real thing, like a fox that steals hens or a dog that barks at nights, and if you want to make a deal with him, it's not too hard to do. One rainy day Jabez curses in the barn, and a little man named Scratch (Walter Huston) appears out of nowhere with a bargain to make: Jabez will have seven years' worth of prosperity and everything that goes with it, and at the end of the seven years, Scratch will get his soul. Jabez signs the contract, and Scratch kicks at the floor of the barn, where a pile of gold rises up from a loose plank. The devil is in the details though, and anyone who's ever seen a movie knows there's going to be Hell to pay.

Continue reading: The Devil and Daniel Webster Review

Cat People (1942) Review


Good
Long before Nastassja Kinski went catty on us in 1982's Cat People, this Val Lewton original subtly scared the bejesus out of people with its tale of a woman (Simone Simon) who believes she suffers from a curse that can cause her to turn into a panther. Her husband doesn't really buy it, so he sends her to the head shrink... which doesn't really help. Moody and intense, the film is hardly a gore-fest, and the body count is minimal. But the way it messes with your head -- and Jacques Tourneur's deft ability behind the camera -- make it quite the '40s standout.

Continue reading: Cat People (1942) Review

The Curse of the Cat People Review


Grim
This rather silly follow-up to Cat People isn't so much unwatchable as it is merely unnecessary. For starters it's got nothing really to do with the original, focusing on the daughter, Amy, of the heroine from the original. Amy is hallucinating and dreams up an imaginary friend or two: Dad's dead first wife. There's really nothing in here that has to do with cat people, but allegedly the film was used in college psychology classes to study disturbed children. Of course, if that's any benchmark, you should see some of the movies they made me watch in school....

Continue reading: The Curse of the Cat People Review

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