Cat People

Year: 1982
Production Co: RKO Pictures
Studio: Universal
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Natassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Anette O'Toole, Ed Begley Jr, John Laroquette
Much like most of the films that feature a soundtrack by 80s electro wunderkind Giorgio Moroder, this update of the 1940s enigmatic horror film is now heavily dated but still a pretty good idea.

Schrader and his producers actually went a different tack by making it all a highly sexualised thing instead of just making it a werewolf-style, 'people turn into animals' horror film.

Hence the casting of the cat-like Kinski as the young woman whose clothes we just can't wait to see fall off (which Schrader gleefully obliges). The films begins with her arriving in New Orleans to seek out her equally mysterious brother Paul - played by McDowell, who was well cast because of his weirdness but badly misplaced if they wanted a sex symbol to preen around without a shirt.

For a reason I can't remember, Irena (Kinski) can't remember her heritage - that she's actually descended from a race where humans have mated with panthers (eew!) and the result has been humans who turn into panthers when sexually aroused.

After being quite disturbed by Paul's (McDowell) apparent insistence to sleep with his own sister, it turns out it's their way to mate with their siblings.

Irena wants none of it, instead falling in love with zookeeper Oliver (Heard) and leaving her brother. But the monster will rear its ugly head whenever she gets it on with her new lover and she has no choice but to meet her gift/curse head on.

The idea is stronger than the execution, Schrader's story arc kind of muddy and the firm early 80s setting dragging proceedings down further to a viewer several decades on. But like a boy director in search of an R rating, it's a smorgasbord of nudity, almost every female character (and several male ones) disrobing for little reason at least once.

Watch for a very early Ed Begley Jr and Anette O'Toole, a compelling and unconventional beauty who's only other appearance of note was as Beverley in It .

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