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!