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HTF REVIEW: "Cat People" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Cat People

    Studio: Universal
    Year: 1982
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 119 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    An Erotic Fantasy For The Animal In Us All.
    Cat People could easily be cast aside as
    just another ordinary stylish thriller if not for
    the talent of Malcom McDowell and the presence of
    the very sexy Nastassia Kinski, who mostly parades
    around fully nude making you wonder how this film
    ever escaped an X rating.
    Irena (Nastassia Kinski) has just been reunited
    in New Orleans with her long lost brother Paul
    (Malcom McDowell) years after their parent's death.
    When they arrive home, one gets an odd feeling
    about their family lineage which is a little strange
    and highly sexual.
    We come to find that their background evolves from
    an ancient tribe that tended to mate with black
    leopards. By stepping away from the pack you tend
    to lose your human like ways and turn leopard, but
    as long as you mate with your sibling or closest
    relative, you retain your ability to transform.
    Yeah, Yeah, it sounds all weird, but just accept
    it and move on.
    After Paul transforms into a leopard and goes on
    a night of maiming and killings that are filled
    with blood and gore, he is captured and locked in
    a nearby zoo. Coincidentally, Irena visits the zoo
    and gets a strange feeling that she somehow knows
    the animal inside the cage. In the meantime, the
    zoo's curator, Oliver (John Heard) falls in love with
    Irena and offers her a job there.
    After Paul returns to human form and escapes
    from the zoo, he becomes more sinister as he is
    aware of the evolving relationship between Irena
    and Oliver. But Irena is becoming aware that she
    is a leopard herself, and must choose her ultimate
    Director Paul Schrader (Hardcore, American Giglolo)
    keeps the suspense building with scenes that
    naturally creep as the score glides across the
    action effortlessly and the chase scenes flex and
    retract with a grasping rhythm. All this supplemented
    with the synthesizer work of Giorgio Moroder ("Midnight
    Express"), that gives the film an underlying feeling
    of anticipated fear.
    How is the transfer?
    For a catalog release, Cat People looks
    very good. The print remains mostly clean, though
    is riddled with a few minor blemishes. I found
    the transfer to be a little uneven with a lot of the
    scenes looking somewhat dated at times due to
    its subdued colors, but at other times (such as the
    outdoor zoo scenes) looking pretty clear with
    vibrant colors. Some scenes look slightly unfocused
    but retain good color balance. Interior scenes
    (including the red desert sequences) tend to sport
    a noticeable amount of film grain, but still hold up
    rather well. Overall, Universal has done a nice job
    with this transfer with any slight flaws being from
    the original source material.
    The 2.0 Dolby Digital Mix is better than I expected.
    Though dialogue is somewhat flat across the front
    channels, the rears do an excellent job of adding
    substance to Giorgio Moroder's synthesized score.
    The music packs a lot of punch with its lower ranges
    providing substantial base that I could actually
    feel through my subwoofer. Effect noises are also
    supported well in the rears that include barking dogs,
    chirping birds, a brief thunderstorm....and oh yes...
    the sounds of panther growls that jump from front
    to rear and then back again.
    Special Features
    This is actually the first time I ever saw this
    film, and while doing research, found that this
    title had previously been released on DVD but now
    out of print. I am guessing that Universal chose
    to rerelease this title as a Special Edition with
    added content, though unfortunately, I can't compare
    this transfer to the old.
    I will say this....the DVD is literally jammed
    with additional material that one would not
    expect for a film like this.
    First up is a running feature commentary
    by Director Paul Schrader. Schrader carefully
    talks about each of scenes, mostly talking about
    the camera angles and effects shots that were done
    in an age just prior to digital. He also talks
    about his regret over the title not being changed
    as this was a film he did not want to be compared
    to the original. His memory seems extremely fresh
    as he remains quite talkative throughout comparing
    many shots between those of New Orleans and those
    shot at Universal. Some of his stories are quite
    interesting, such as why the burial plots in New
    Orleans are above ground. Schrader is extremely
    knowledgeable of his effects work, always cluing
    us in as to how a scene was pieced together with
    all the effects elements. Quite good!
    Cat People: An Intimate Portrait by Paul
    Schrader is an interview with the Director that
    was filmed in 2000. The Director seems to be off
    to a flying start as he complains about his fever
    and the noise of New York that surrounds him.
    Schrader talks bout his start in the film business,
    citing that Cat People was the first script
    to come his way that he did not write himself. It
    came at a time when Universal was remaking some of
    its old horror films. Teamed once again with Visual
    Consultant Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Schrader talks
    about the Union clashes at the time the film was
    being made, and the importance of Scarfiotti's
    presence on the set. Having never seen the
    original film, the Director was not too happy
    with doing a remake but rather something that
    would stand on its own merits. It's interesting
    to hear the Director talk about how he brought
    Nastassia aboard, and trust me, there was no
    talent search. We briefly learn about many of
    the interior stage and exterior sets that were
    built that are supplemented with some behind-the-
    scenes footage. It's very interesting to hear
    Schrader talk about using a combination of sex
    and violence in the film to fool his audience.
    Finally, the Director talks about the musical
    genius of Giorgio Moroder. A very thorough
    look at the making of this film, filled with
    very interesting philosophy from its Director.
    (length: approx. 25 minutes)
    Let's go back to 20 years for On The Set with
    Director Paul Schrader, a 1982 interview shot
    on the film's zoo set. Schrader looks somewhat
    shy here as he declines to talk about the film's
    synopsis, but talks a bit about the sexuality
    of the film. He also talks about casting Nastassia
    Kinski, an actress that simply met his needs.
    (length: approx. 10 minutes)
    In a recent interview made into the documentary
    Cat People: A discussion with Effects Artist
    Tom Burman, we learn how Tom was originally
    attracted to the film's dark and sexy script.
    He viewed the film as more sensual than horrific.
    We are treated to pictures of the many models and
    sketches that depict the transformation process.
    There are some terrific shots of some of the
    initial makeup tests -- some more visibly disturbing
    than the ones toned down for the film. Though
    an elaborate mechanical radio-controlled cat was
    built for the movie, the animals themselves were
    well trained enough to be used in most all the shots.
    (length: approx. 11 minutes)
    This is the kind of stuff I love watching. Cat
    People Matte Paintings guides us through how
    shots against a blue screen on a studio sound stage
    are later supplemented with beautiful Matte
    paintings. Though this is a relatively short
    segment, it doesn't cease to amaze you as to what
    Hollywood magic can do.
    (length: approx. 3 minutes)
    Filmmaker Robert Wise on Val Lewton is
    an interesting Q&A session that features Mr.
    Wise talking about his old friend whom he originally
    met at RKO studios and his reaction to the original
    Cat People movie. This is a rather abruptly
    short interview.
    (length: approx. 3 minutes)
    An interesting blend of Production Photographs
    are presented as a running collage of pictures set
    to David Bowie's music. Lots of publicity stills
    and behind-the-scenes photographs to see.
    (length: approx. 6.5 minutes)
    Production Notes give an overview of how
    the film was put together by the original team
    who made American Gigolo. We learn about
    the filming done on the Universal stages and
    later on location in New Orleans.
    Finally, the film's original theatrical
    trailer is included as well as a screen
    of other DVD Recommendations, that
    unfortunately, you cannot click on and see a
    Final Thoughts
    After all these years, watching Cat People
    for the first time was a semi-enjoyable experience
    for me. The film is a highly erotic story that
    goes slightly beyond the typical monster/horror
    flick, managing to almost hypnotize you with its
    Universal has done an exceptional job putting out
    a Special Edition that sports a very decent transfer
    and enough supplemental material to make you purr
    like a big kitty.
    Release Date: August 27, 2002
  2. JohnE

    JohnE Supporting Actor

    Jan 1, 2001
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    Another one I'm going to have to get.I always liked this movie. [​IMG]
  3. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

    Apr 25, 2000
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    Manchester, England
    Real Name:
    Steve Christou
    Mmmmm yes gorgeous pussycat Kinski, who wanders thru most of the film sans clothing.
    I love this flick, another 80's guilty pleasure (what is it with the 80's and guilty pleasure movies?), love the Giorgio Moroder techno-score too.
    Prefer it to the classic original for obvious reasons.[​IMG]
    Another must buy for me.[​IMG]
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

    Jun 30, 1999
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    Yay! I actually have the LD to this film, but will get the DVD for the ample supplements. Thanks for the review!
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Though the original is unsurpassed, I rather like the remake--and I have the first DVD edition. Chalk me up for the new one.
  6. Aaryn Chan

    Aaryn Chan Supporting Actor

    Jul 5, 2002
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    This is my first ever Horror movie. It's the one that started it all. And it's the one that made me wake up in the middle on the night. Did not expect you would review a movie like this [​IMG]
  7. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    sounds like the transfer on this is much improved.
    i previously owned the LD and bought the first dvd when it was on sale for $6.99.
    neither version looked all that great.
    the LD seemed very soft and probably suffered from noisy reds.
    the dvd, if i remember right , was non-anamorphic and the transfer was even worse with what seemed like tons of grain and/or artifacts.
    i never even bothered to watch the movie, after previewing a few chapters, i found the quality to be so lacking, i just went ahead and ebayed it.

    i'll be looking forward to picking this up.
  8. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    hmmm, I'll have to add this to my rental list for my October month-o-horror.
  9. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

    Mar 4, 2000
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    League City, Texas
    Real Name:
    Craig Seanor
  10. Brett C

    Brett C Second Unit

    Jul 23, 2000
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    Good review,Ive got the original non animorphic release from Image that will be sold . And I included the new edition in my preorder that contains about 17 Horror DVD releases that come out between Aug 27th and Sept 3rd...Can't wait!!! [​IMG]
  11. Gabe D

    Gabe D Cinematographer

    May 16, 2001
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    Is that the right cover art? It sure looks like the old one...
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    It is the old cover art.

    I am still waiting for the new, but none of the
    sites seem to have it in the size I need it.
  13. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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  14. Ken Wilson

    Ken Wilson Agent

    Jun 30, 1997
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    I just watched this on TV the other night; I couldn't resist it because it had been a long time since I had seen it.
    I saw a couple of scenes that had me wishing for OAR.
    And yes, Nastssia is beautiful, but it would be a serious ommission not to mention Annette O'Toole in the locker room scene. My Gawd! I had no idea! :b
    Both -uh- observations which lead me to Ron's comment about being surprised that the film didn't get an 'X' rating. Ron, thank goodness it takes more than nudity to get an 'X' rating (well maybe Blockbuster will release their own version without it?![​IMG] ) The day THAT happens, I'll start killing Censors!
  15. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

    Feb 23, 2000
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    WHAT? When the hell was this DVD announced? There was a discussion not too long ago asking when Universal might re-release this formally Image licensed title.
    Man, I just don't have the time anymore to keep up with all the new releases coming out![​IMG]
  16. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Producer

    Jan 6, 1999
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    Love that this film is got the "SE treatment."

    I only wish deleted/alternate scenes had been included,
    as having tapped it off of commerical television years
    ago, I remember a few scenes added to the "television cut,"
    that were not in the theatrical release. No doubt they
    were used by the studio to pad the film, since broadcast
    versions would have to excise much of the sexuality.

    Still, I kinda liked those scenes just to have, but
    not reincorporated in the final film.

    I am quite eager to hear the commentary track, as
    from what I hear, Schrader used to just stare at
    frames of Kinski, as he was reportedly gonzo over
    her at the time of filming.

  17. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

    Oct 14, 2001
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    >>but it would be a serious ommission not to mention Annette O'Toole in the locker room scene. My Gawd! I had no idea!

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