Title: Cat People (1982)
Written by: DeWitt Bodeen & Alan Ormsby
Directed by: Paul Schrader
Starring: Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard
Tagline: An Erotic Fantasy About the Animal in Us All!
Pre-Screening Memories: My 13-year-old conscience knew it was wrong to want to see “Cat People.”
With feline stealth I slunk into my older brother’s room – where he proudly displayed his latest acquisition, a Sony Betamax VCR (he paid $800 for it). I’d procured the tape from a classmate who shared my obsession with horror films.
The movie proved effective in that it scared the crap out of me.
Irena (a young Nastassja Kinski), is orphaned as an infant by her animal-trainer parents. She’s reunited with her minister brother Paul (William McDowell), who’s horny as a tomcat. It’s later revealed Irena and Paul are über-cat/humans who transform into giant panthers during intercourse with others. They return back to human only after they kill their mates.
Wow! As if that weren’t enough of an engaging plot, turns out the only way to stop the transformation is sex with a sibling. It was almost too much for me handle. I’d seen nudity in films before, sure, but this movie was so gory I had nightmares for weeks and couldn’t go near the family cat, Tigger.
I remember in one scene, Paul is transforming from cat back to human (so slick were the special effects!), and (gag) eats some glistening leftover fur-skin from his stomach.
Paul continues to sleep with, and maul, numerous lovers, while Irena starts dating a zookeeper Oliver (John Heard). Thing is, she can’t have sex with him because then she’d have to eat him. Paul’s killed while in panther form, Irena’s sexually frustrated and poor Oliver’s looking more and more like a tempting plate of Fancy Feast.
Twenty-three years later, I remember little more about this film other than a man’s arm is eaten by a panther through the bars of a cage in one of the final scenes. I’ve yet to see something so gruesome in a movie. Not even “Kill Bill” had more blood. (Editor’s note: ‘Kill Bill’ link is the over-the-top Crazy 88 scene, you have been warned.)