A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »
Serbian national Irena Dubrovna, a fashion sketch artist, has recently arrived in New York for work. The first person who she makes a personal connection with there is marine engineer Oliver Reed. The two fall in love and get married despite Irena's reservations, not about Oliver but about herself. She has always felt different than other people, but has never been sure why. She lives close to the zoo, and unlike many of her neighbors is comforted by the sounds of the big cats emanating from the zoo. And although many see it purely as an old wives' tale, she believes the story from her village of ancient residents being driven into witchcraft and evil doing, those who managed to survive by escaping into the mountains. After seeing her emotional pain, Oliver arranges for her to see a psychiatrist to understand why she believes what she does. In therapy, Dr. Judd, the psychiatrist, learns that she also believes, out of that villagers' tale, that she has descended from this evil - women ... Written by
The horror movie technique of slowly building tension to a jarring shock which turns out to be something completely harmless and benign became known as a "Lewton bus" after a famous scene in this movie created by producer Val Lewton. See more »
When Dr. Judd leaves his cane in the apartment, he tucks it into the sofa cushions. When he returns to the apartment to retrieve it, it is leaning against the sofa. See more »
[From the opening credits] "Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depression in the world consciousness."- "The Anatomy of Atavism"- Dr. Louis Judd See more »
I have this theory about the horror films of Val Lewton. It is my contention that these movies caused a sea change in the content and tone of the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. The reason I say this is simple, really: Lewton is the only filmmaker I have ever caught Hitchcock cribbing scenes from. He did it twice. Once from The Seventh Victim (dir. by Mark Robson), which I swear to god provides the first half of the Shower Scene from Psycho. The second from Cat People, which provided the pet store scene in The Birds. This second scene is almost a shot for shot swipe. Both of these steals are evidence that Hitch knew and admired the Lewton movies. More than that, though, there is a change in the subtext of Hitchcock's thrillers after the Lewton movies. The movies he made before them were cut from the Fritz Lang mold of political thrillers. After the Lewton movies, Hitch's movies became more psychosexual in nature. Vertigo, for instance, could easily fit into Lewton's output.
Cat People is the first of the Lewton movies and sets the tone for them. It pretends to be about a McGuffin (serbian were -panthers), but is actually about something else (in this case, frigidity and repressed lesbianism). This represents a huge change in the evolution of the horror movie. Cat People is the first horror movie to explore these themes as central concerns rather than as sub-rosa undercurrents. It also pioneered the techniques of film noir (which as a genre didn't really exist yet). Cat People is strikingly stylized and its effect is of stranding the viewer in the middle of a darkened room with some dreadful beast circling just outside his sphere of perception. This has a hell of an impact--particularly if you have the good fortune to see this in a theater. I'm not going to claim that Cat People is one of the best horror movies ever made (it does have flaws), but it is one of the four most influential horror movies ever made (along with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Psycho, and Night of the Living Dead). But unlike its brethren, its influence spreads corrosively through the entirety of cinema through both film noir and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. You would be hard pressed to find any film short of Citizen Kane or Rashomon that is nearly as influential.
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