Friday, August 14, 2009


CAT PEOPLE (1982, USA, Paul Schrader, screenplay w/ Alan Ormsby, DeWitt Bodeen story)
You can see why this God-haunted, Total-Depravity-Of-Man-obsessed ex-Calvinist Schrader would be drawn to this landmark supernatural thriller. But as you might guess, his sensibilities are all wrong for it, and the genius – not to mention the spiritual frisson – is completely lost. Understatement becomes overstatement, what's implicit he makes explicit: sexual undercurrents open out into rancid sloughs of prostitution, promiscuity and incest, and the threat of violence is more than threatened – we even get to see a melodramatic Malcolm McDowell slurp down some human entrails. Lovely, if that's your kind of thing. The religious elements that Tourneur takes more seriously than expected are sensationalized here, robbed of any potency: instead of Irena holding hard to Christianity to keep her darkest impulses at bay, her brother is the religious one in the family, part of a fanatical cult; the T-square that offered unexpected protection in the first film is as utterly ineffectual in Schrader's film as we would have expected in the first place. The celebrated park and swimming pool scenes are both here: on the commentary track the director refers to them as obligatory scenes, and that's pretty much how they feel. Oh yeah, the girl in the pool this time is topless. It's that kind of movie. Watch the original.

Available at Videomatica

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