The Cat People originated way back in time, when humans sacrificed their women to leopards, who mated with them. Cat People look similar to humans, but must mate with other Cat People before they transform into panthers. Irene Gallier was raised by adoptive parents and meets her older brother Paul for the first time since childhood. We follow brother and sister - who seem to be the only ones of their kind left. Written by
Colin Tinto <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Despite having been young, semi-conscious (I was under five years old) and possessing few actual memories of the nineteen eighties, the decade has a certain personal eroticism for me. The powdery skin, shimmering camera-work, the outrageous kink and camp of the clothing, the archetypal section of dim-minded actresses performing with the joyful vacant-eyed faces of children: these all stir my heart. The film Cat People was a smarter film when compared to too much of the artistic output of the nineteen eighties but it also suffered from the strangeness of the times. First of all, Nastassja Kinski has a sublime beauty that would attract in any decade but was especially characteristic of ideal notions of sexiness for those years. Her eyebrow were that exquisite Madonna-esquire thick, her lips in a permanent state of partial openness with full-on pout, her hair cut to that boyish cute, and her shoulder pads speaking volumes about her feminine authority. Even her cat-like demeanor, connected to the premise of the film, was equivalent to popular depictions of women as sex kittens. In essence, her performances in the film can be interpreted as one of the finest expressions of the nineteen eighties soft-lit, softcore pornographic aesthetic.
Secondly, as a horror film, it managed to offer moments of decent creepiness in the vein of the times. Fear, of course, has been a universal and timeless emotion yet it can be provoked in a manner reflective of the era. The Germans of centuries ago used grim and blood-spattered folk tales to frighten, director Paul Schrader used shadow. Shadows were such a magnificent aspect of the nineteen eighties aesthetic because their perfect in lockstep with the soft-lit light (consider the Vogue video). Schrader employed shadows in an eerie manner that kept the viewer guessing, achieving what few horror directors actual get from their audiences: fearful concern about what was in the dark. Consider two scenes: when Malcolm McDowell lunges from the shadows as the beast and when Nastassja Kinski has a passion moment in that darkened room. Schrader brilliance was to make the shadow both fearful and erotic: the dark has been traditional as fear-provoker and yet can be quite intimate as well. In mixing the two emotions successfully, Schrader made the film a unique creature for the horror genre.
Third, that soundtrack Giorgio Moroder and Bowie crafted must be one of the strangest in the history of film. Starting off on a campy note, the music over the reddish desert of the first scene ought to make a person either laugh or weep but it does get better. Listen to it; it goes with the images on screen like magic.
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