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She's a very disturbed girl, on the verge of a pretty severe psychosis.
Out of Insignia Films, Cat Girl is a cheap British variant on Jacques Tourneur's Cat People from 15 years earlier. Plot basically finds Barbara Shelley as Leonora Brandt, a woman seemingly the victim of a family curse that turns her into a killer Leopard when disturbed emotionally. Naturally her psychiatrist Dr. Brian Marlowe (Robert Ayres) is positive that she's suffering mental illness, this in spite of the evidence suggesting otherwise. As the bodies begin to pile up and Dr. Marlowe takes Leonora under his wing, something is going to give come the finale.
Directed by Alfred Shaughnessy and photographed by Peter Hennessy, it's a picture that doesn't lack for moody atmosphere. The Brandt family home is a creepy looking place, a sort of rectory type establishment, this forms the backdrop for the first half of the piece as it dallies in old dark house conventions. With barmy uncle and pessimistic housekeeper thrown in for good measure. Then it's a switch to a sanitarium in preparation for the tense finale that takes place out on the dank and dimly lighted streets.
Some decision making by the doctor is hard to swallow, as is his approach to mental illness come to think of it, while there's some poor acting away from future Hammer Horror darling Shelley, but it does well with its minimal budget funding. Yes it makes you appreciate even more the brilliance of Tourneur and Musuraca back in 1942, yet there's a fun time to be had with this one if accepting it on its own modest eerie terms. 6/10
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