Cat People (1982 film)
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Cat People is a 1982 American erotic horror film directed by Paul Schrader. It stars Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell; John Heard, Annette O'Toole, Ruby Dee, Ed Begley Jr., Scott Paulin, and Frankie Faison play supporting roles. Wilbur Stark and Jerry Bruckheimer served as executive producers. Alan Ormsby wrote the screenplay, basing it loosely on the story by DeWitt Bodeen, the screenwriter for the original Cat People (1942). Giorgio Moroder composed the film's score, including the theme song, which features lyrics and vocals by David Bowie.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Schrader|
|Produced by||Charles W. Fries|
|Music by||Giorgio Moroder|
|Edited by||Jacqueline Cambas|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$21 million|
A prologue set in an undisclosed, primitive human settlement shows a sacrificial maiden being tied to a tree. A black panther approaches and rests its paws on her, and the scene fades to black. Another girl with feline features approaches a similar big cat in a cave, without incurring its attack.
A close-up of her face segues to that of similarly featured Irena Gallier, who travels to present-day New Orleans from Canada to reconnect with her brother Paul. Irena was raised in foster care after they were orphaned. Paul spent his childhood in psych wards, is now involved in a church and lives with his Creole housekeeper Female.
That night, a prostitute named Ruthie walks into a fleabag motel to meet a john, but instead finds a melanistic leopard that mauls her foot. The police and zoologists Oliver, Alice and Joe capture the panther. Meanwhile, Irena wakes to find Paul missing. Female guesses he went to the mission and urges Irena to enjoy New Orleans on her own.
Irena visits the zoo, is drawn to the newly captured leopard and stays after closing hours. She is discovered by Oliver, the zoo's curator, who takes her to dinner and offers her a job in the gift shop. Irena reveals she is a virgin in conversation with Alice, who shares a romantic history (and is still in love) with Oliver and sees her as a rival. One day the leopard rips Joe's arm off during a routine cage cleaning. Joe bleeds to death and Oliver resolves to euthanize the cat, only to find it missing. In its cage lies a puddle of melted flesh like the one found by the motel prostitute.
Paul turns up and makes a sexual advance towards Irena. She flees, flags down a police car and has second thoughts about turning Paul in, but a police dog catches a strong scent from the house and a detective is called in. In Paul's basement, police find shackles, bones, and remains of dozens of corpses. They figure Paul is a serial killer who fed corpses to a captive panther, and call in Oliver and Alice to inspect.
On the run from Paul, Irena takes refuge in a frustrated romance with Oliver, fearing the consequences of physical intimacy. Paul visits Irena again and explains their shared werecat heritage, thus revealing himself as the escaped murderous leopard. Mating with a human transforms a werecat into a leopard, and only by killing a human can it regain human form. His explanation complements the film's prologue, but leaves unclear whether the sacrifice made cats humanlike after devouring the maidens, or was a rare successful case of hybridization. He tells her their parents were siblings because werecats are ancestrally incestuous and only sex between werecats prevents the transformation. He resumes his sexual advances, hoping Irena will accept their predicament, but she does not. Paul then transforms, attacks Oliver and is shot by Alice. Oliver starts an autopsy on the cat. A green gas emanates from the surgical cut and a human arm and hand reach up from within the corpse. Before he can document this, the leopard has melted into a pool of green slime.
Irena stalks and nearly attacks Alice twice. She later has sex with Oliver and transforms into a leopard but she flees, sparing his life, and is later trapped on a bridge by police. Oliver arrives in time to see her jump off the bridge. Realizing where she is headed, he confronts Irena at a secluded lake house. She has regained human form by killing the house's caretaker. Irena tells Oliver she did not kill him because she loves him, and begs him to kill her. When he refuses, she begs him, then, to make love to her again so she can transform and "be with [her] own kind." Oliver ties Irena naked to the bedposts by her arms and legs to restrain her, and has sex with her.
Some time later, Oliver is again in a one-sided relationship with Alice. He stops at the cage holding the "recaptured panther"--Irena, now trapped in her cat form. Oliver reaches through the bars, casually hand-feeds and strokes the now-docile panther's neck.
- Nastassja Kinski as Irena Gallier
- Malcolm McDowell as Paul Gallier
- John Heard as Oliver Yates
- Annette O'Toole as Alice Perrin
- Ruby Dee as Female
- Ed Begley Jr. as Joe Creigh
- Scott Paulin as Bill Searle
- Frankie Faison as Det. Brandt
- Ron Diamond as Det. Ron Diamond
- Lynn Lowry as Ruthie
- John Larroquette as Bronte Judson
- Tessa Richarde as Billie
- Berry Berenson as Sandra
- Don Hood as Train Station Agent
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The Blu-ray features interviews with Kinski, McDowell, Heard and O'Toole as well as director Schrader and composer Moroder. McDowell indicated that he was somewhat reluctant to make the film at first because he recalled the original film as "not being very good" but was convinced by Schrader's take on the material with its focus on the erotic horror elements. McDowell also revealed that the scene where he leaps on the bed in a cat like fashion was shot with him jumping off the bed. They then ran the film backward. Heard discussed how he almost turned down the role because he believed it was a porno movie. He also recalled that he felt very awkward, particularly during the nude scenes. O'Toole discussed the fact that they used cougars that were dyed black because leopards are impossible to train.
Director Schrader has said, in relation to the erotic and horror aspects of Cat People, that the film "contains more skin than blood". He has described the film as being more about the mythical than the realistic. He has likened the relation between Oliver and Irena to Dante and Beatrice, putting the female on a pedestal.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 61% based on reviews from 46 critics. On Metacritic the film has a score of 62% based on reviews from 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three and a half out of four star rating. He stated, "Cat People is a good movie in an old tradition, a fantasy-horror film that takes itself just seriously enough to work, has just enough fun to be entertaining, contains elements of intrinsic fascination in its magnificent black leopards, and ends in one way just when we were afraid it was going to end in another."
Weekly entertainment-trade magazine Variety also gave the film a positive rating by praising Nastassja Kinski's performance, saying: "Kinski was essential to the film as conceived, and she's endlessly watchable."[dead link]Leonard Maltin awarded the film a mixed two out of a possible four stars, calling it "sexy, bloody, technically well crafted, but uneven and ultimately unsatisfying." However, Nastassja Kinski stated, when being interviewed by her friend and actress Jodie Foster, in Film Comment that she disliked the film, describing it as "slick" and "manipulative". This surprised Foster, who asserted she thoroughly enjoyed the film.
Awards and nominationsEdit
The film was nominated for three prestigious awards:
- Best Actress (Nastassja Kinski)
|Cat People: Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||April 2, 1982|
|Recorded||Carla Ridge, Beverly Hills, California|
Mountain Recording, Montreux, Switzerland (David Bowie's vocals)
|Genre||Electronic, synthpop, ambient|
|Singles from Cat People: Original Soundtrack|
The soundtrack album was released by MCA Records the same week as the film. The theme song, "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)", was performed by David Bowie, who wrote the lyrics to music composed by Giorgio Moroder. The song was released as a single in 1982, and Bowie included a re-recorded version of the song on his album Let's Dance (1983). Bowie performed the song live regularly during his 1983 "Serious Moonlight" tour. The song was also used in Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Charlize Theron’s spy thriller Atomic Blonde (2017).
Bowie's re-recording had guitar by a then-unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan.
All compositions by Moroder, lyrics by David Bowie on "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)".
- "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" – 6:43
- "The Autopsy" – 1:31
- "Irena's Theme" – 4:20
- "Night Rabbit" – 1:58
- "Leopard Tree Dream" – 4:01
- "Paul's Theme (Jogging Chase)" – 3:51
- "The Myth" – 5:11
- "To the Bridge" – 2:50
- "Transformation Seduction" – 2:44
- "Bring the Prod" – 1:57
- Bob Badami – music editor
- Brian Banks – additional keyboards, Synclavier II programming
- Steve Bates – assistant engineer, mixing assistant
- David Bowie – vocals on "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" & humming vocal on "The Myth"
- Alexandra Brown – backing vocals
- Keith Forsey – drums, percussion
- Brian Gardner – mastering
- Craig Huxley – blaster beam
- Charles Judge – Prophet 5 and Jupiter 8 programming
- Laurie Kanner – production coordinator
- Michael Landau – guitar
- Sylvester Levai – keyboards, arranged by
- Paulette MacWilliams – backing vocals
- Tim May – guitar
- Giorgio Moroder – producer, guitar, bass, mixing
- Brian Reeves – engineer, mixing
- Lee Sklar – bass
- Stephanie Spruill – backing vocals
- Trevor Veitch – musical contractor
- Allen Zentz – mastering (Bowie's vocals)
- "CAT PEOPLE (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 1982-04-20. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
- "Cat People Box Office Data". Retrieved 2008-01-29.
- DVD Verdict Review Archived 2010-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, Cat People (HD DVD).
- "Cat People". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
- "Cat People (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Cat People (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- "Cat People". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Cat People 1982". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- Ebert, Roger. - Review: "Cat People". - Chicago Sun-Times. - January 1, 1982. - Retrieved August 5, 2010
- Variety Staff. - Review: "Cat People". - Variety. - January 1, 1982. - Retrieved August 5, 2010
- Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 226. ISBN 9780451418104.
- Interview, by Foster, with Nastassia Kinski, in Film Comment (New York), September/October 1982.
- NYTimes.com, Cat People - Awards.
- Giorgio Moroder. "Giorgio Moroder, Giorgio Moroder - Cat People: Original Soundtrack - Amazon.com Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2016-12-08.