A few words about…™ The Curse of the Cat People — in Blu-ray

This is a series of films that you'll need in your library. Grab them as the arrive. 4 Stars

The concept worked.

Create a great, catchy title, and build a film around it.

And it probably worked for no one better than for Val Lewton, the king of the horror/thrillers at RKO from 1942 to 1946. A period during which he produced nine extraordinary low budget films, and left an indelible mark on the industry.

Best to keep an eye out for these films, as they should finally be showing up on Blu-ray, as WB has licensed some to Criterion and Shout.

Cat People – 1942

I Walked with a Zombie – 1943

The Leopard Man – 1943

The Seventh Victim – 1943

The Ghost Ship – 1943

The Curse of the Cat People – 1944

The Body Snatcher – 1945

Isle of the Dead – 1945

Bedlam – 1946

Initially released in DVD form by WB in 2005, they’re now selling far in excess of their original cost, which makes the new Blu-rays a no-brainer.

The first, courtesy of Criterion, Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People, arrived in 2016.

Hopefully, now with Shout Factory’s beautifully rendered Blu of it’s quasi-sequel, The Curse of the Cat People, other titles will being to move down the pipeline more quickly.

The Curse of the Cat People, is a meticulously restored black & white gem, with a lovely sheen of tight grain, and a clean track. Clean, nice black levels, beautiful shadow detail. Every element in its place.

As to the film, it’s actually less a horror film, than a tale of childhood fantasies, but it fits into the rest of Lewton pantheon of works beautifully.

It was directed by the famous team of von Frisch and Wise.

While everyone is familiar with the work of Gunther von Fritsch (Cigarette Girl, the Vienna sequence for This is Cinerama), some may not know of the other director, who had risen from work as an editor on small RKO projects, and would eventually find his way behind the camera again, directing another of the Lewton films, the 1945 The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

This is a series of films that you’ll need in your library. Grab them as the arrive.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes!

Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

23 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    Hopefully, now with Shout Factory's beautifully rendered Blu of it's quasi-sequel, The Curse of the Cat People, other titles will being to move down the pipeline more quickly.

    That's one reason why I pre-ordered my copy. I want to support the effort.

    I'd imagine that The Body Snatcher and I Walked With A Zombie will be out relatively shortly but I hope that The Seventh Victim and The Leopard Man aren't too far behind.

  2. I never get tired of watching these Val Lewton films. They get better with each viewing. They have so many layers and are so well made. I've heard that CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE was the basic outline for THE EXORCIST. You can see many parallels. It is deceptively suspenseful and so much fun to watch. Can't wait for my favorite — THE SEVENTH VICTIM.

  3. I, too, am familiar with this Wise character. I believe that Mr. von Fritsch had mentored him during production and was an influence on his later work, particularly involving a certain haunting of a certain hill house, if you know what I mean. 😉

  4. t1g3r5fan

    I, too, am familiar with this Wise character. I believe that Mr. von Fritsch had mentored him during production and was an influence on his later work, particularly involving a certain haunting of a certain hill house, if you know what I mean. 😉

    I asked Mr. Wise about the door bending inward in that film, and he explained that it was layers of laminated wood…

    With two of the biggest teamsters you’ve ever seen, pushing from the other side.

    Pre-digital.

    Today they’d spend $30,000 on the effect.

  5. Just watched it and it looks exquisite. This is how a black and white film should look. Some of the best cinematography ever done. And this film gets better with each viewing like a fine wine. Outstanding supplements, too: Simone Simone interview, Ann Carter interview, Simone Simone documentary that is very well done with photos I've never seen. Shout Factory — hats off! Keep up the good work!

  6. It's very difficult for those who bought the Val Lewton DVD set to spend the amount of money it costs to buy each individual film as an individual Blu-Ray disc. Not to mention the shelf space it takes up. Even doing them as double features would make it a little easier on the buyer. It's almost like they're trying to push collectors away from physical media and into buying downloads that take no physical space and often cost less (I spent $4.98 for Cat People in HD).

  7. mark-edk

    It's very difficult for those who bought the Val Lewton DVD set to spend the amount of money it costs to buy each individual film as an individual Blu-Ray disc. Not to mention the shelf space it takes up. Even doing them as double features would make it a little easier on the buyer. It's almost like they're trying to push collectors away from physical media and into buying downloads that take no physical space and often cost less (I spent $4.98 for Cat People in HD).

    And when your noncorporeal copy of Cat People vanishes at some future point, I'll still have my beautiful Blu-ray, a physical copy that I will always own. You didn't "buy" it for $4.98. You paid for a long-term rental with no guarantee of permanence. If you want to support physical media, spend the money and buy the disc.

    I do agree with you about the double-feature thing though. These movies are barely over an hour each. I was definitely annoyed when Criterion released Cat People without Curse of the Cat People, but at least they included the Scorsese documentary on Lewton. Happily, Shout! Factory has stacked their release of Curse with new extras.

  8. mark-edk

    It's very difficult for those who bought the Val Lewton DVD set to spend the amount of money it costs to buy each individual film as an individual Blu-Ray disc. Not to mention the shelf space it takes up. Even doing them as double features would make it a little easier on the buyer. It's almost like they're trying to push collectors away from physical media and into buying downloads that take no physical space and often cost less (I spent $4.98 for Cat People in HD).

    Downloads Downloads Downloads ……….how I wish they were never invented as they will eventually be the death of BD , DVD and CDs ….just wait and see it's not that far away.

  9. Robert Harris

    The concept worked.

    Create a great, catchy title, and build a film around it.

    And it probably worked for no one better than for Val Lewton, the king of the horror/thrillers at RKO from 1942 to 1946. A period during which he produced nine extraordinary low budget films, and left an indelible mark on the industry.

    Best to keep an eye out for these films, as they should finally be showing up on Blu-ray, as WB has licensed some to Criterion and Shout.

    Cat People – 1942

    I Walked with a Zombie – 1943

    The Leopard Man – 1943

    The Seventh Victim – 1943

    The Ghost Ship – 1943

    The Curse of the Cat People – 1944

    The Body Snatcher – 1945

    Isle of the Dead – 1945

    Bedlam – 1946

    Initially released in DVD form by WB in 2005, they're now selling far in excess of their original cost, which makes the new Blu-rays a no-brainer.

    The first, courtesy of Criterion, Jacques Tourneur's Cat People, arrived in 2016.

    Hopefully, now with Shout Factory's beautifully rendered Blu of it's quasi-sequel, The Curse of the Cat People, other titles will being to move down the pipeline more quickly.

    The Curse of the Cat People, is a meticulously restored black & white gem, with a lovely sheen of tight grain, and a clean track. Clean, nice black levels, beautiful shadow detail. Every element in its place.

    As to the film, it's actually less a horror film, than a tale of childhood fantasies, but it fits into the rest of Lewton pantheon of works beautifully.

    It was directed by the famous team of von Frisch and Wise.

    While everyone is familiar with the work of Gunther von Fritsch (Cigarette Girl, the Vienna sequence for This is Cinerama), some may not know of the other director, who had risen from work as an editor on small RKO projects, and would eventually find his way behind the camera again, directing another of the Lewton films, the 1945 The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

    This is a series of films that you'll need in your library. Grab them as the arrive.

    Image – 5

    Audio – 5

    Pass / Fail – Pass

    Upgrade from DVD – Yes!

    Highly Recommended

    RAH
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    RAH, I have to ask if you are familiar with The Secret History of Hollywood podcast? The last season was all about Val Lewton, including his relationship with Robert Wise, Jacques Tourneur and Mark Robson. Great stuff. If I wasn't a fan of Lewton before, I definitely am now and will be picking this one up, as I already have the Criterion Cat People.

  10. Craig Beam

    And when your noncorporeal copy of Cat People vanishes at some future point, I'll still have my beautiful Blu-ray, a physical copy that I will always own. You didn't "buy" it for $4.98. You paid for a long-term rental with no guarantee of permanence. If you want to support physical media, spend the money and buy the disc.

    I do agree with you about the double-feature thing though. These movies are barely over an hour each. I was definitely annoyed when Criterion released Cat People without Curse of the Cat People, but at least they included the Scorsese documentary on Lewton. Happily, Shout! Factory has stacked their release of Curse with new extras.

    Hell, we all vanish at some future point. I used to have that concern you noted. However, I'm not worried about your point on this matter now, not with Movies Anywhere and the future of streaming being more robust than discs right now. I still buy my share of discs as I just spent over $200 for Criterion releases on sale at Barnes & Noble. However, I'm running out of room at home and the streaming process has improved so much over the years, it gives me another option to watch my favorite movies at home. Streaming has come a long way, especially in the last couple of years for those of us that don't have projection setups, but have 65" or smaller displays with internet access that allows for good streams without any issues. I'm sure there are plenty of people restricted by internet access so they can't get the entire benefit of streaming. Furthermore, I've never seen a stream on any 110" screen so that can be an issue too. I respect the differences of opinion regarding these issues as each of us have unique situations pertaining to our individual setups at home.

  11. I made my order today. I like sequel "Curse of the Cat People" even better than the classic first film.

    I'm hoping for restored Blu-rays of all the Val Lewton 9 horror films, and "I Walked With A Zombie" and "The Body Snatcher" are at the top of my list.

  12. While I would agree with Bob's rating for the most part, I have to deduct a half of point on the sound. The RKO sound is excellent for the most part, but there seems to be a trend of cutting off the end music cue a bit prematurely. In the music, while the last chord is held, it is ended with a timpani hit. The old DVD has it right, but in the new blu ray addition, the music is abruptly cut off before that end articulation and goes to "digital" silence with no proper decay in the music. I know this is nitpicking, but I assume that it was done in the mastering.

    More and more films seem to get a similar treatment….some even fade down the music before you get to the final chord. I know there can reasons for this, like the end is cut off on their source and they find it preferable to an awkward dead stop in the middle of a cadence.

    But on the whole, a wonderful job. A big improvement over the DVD.

  13. It looks nice, apart from lousy compression artefacts – based on Beaver screenshots (and I have no reason to believe that Gary introduced those artefacts).
    Seems to be a thing with Shout Factory – remember the Herzog box set?

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