Cat People wasn’t as bad as I’d hoped, but neither did it live up to the hype . It is not the best horror movie ever and certainly had nothing to do with sci-fi despite the autopsy scene (if that one scene makes it a sci-fi flick, then The Little Mermaid might as well be one, too). But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was bad, just that there are bad parts that mix with some good parts to form an overall mediocre experience.
First of all, it’s not even original. It is virtually a remake. Weak. Secondly:
The score is so good it could tempt one to think that the whole film is simply a teaser for the song played during the closing credits…Uh, no. What score? The drum machine or the guy alternating between two dissonant chords on the synthesizer for 10 minutes at a time? Saying this movie has a great score is like saying every episode of Law & Order has a great score…if the music were performed by Wang Chung. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. I recommend tracks two, four & eight.
Third, and perhaps most troublesome, it’s not really “scary”. Dark, creepy, disturbing? Sure, but mostly because of the whole incest thing. Suspensful? A little. Scary? Nope. To be truly scary a movie has to get inside your head and haunt you. You have to be thinking about it for a good day or two after you’re done watching it, and not just because there were a lot of tits or blood & gore. There should be something that really got to you that makes you think, “Damn, I would not want to be in that situation.” Surviving the Cat People universe would be simple: bring a gun.
McDowell and Kinski were great, although I don’t think McDowell was in even half of the film, which is a waste. Real horrorshow, you might say. Let’s be honest, too: the real reason we’re fond of this movie is Kinski’s nudity, who is hot despite her ‘80s "little boy" haircut. That threw me off a bit, by the way, because in one scene I thought it was her waking up naked in the bathroom but it turned out to Malcom McDowell. Not sure I’ll ever get over that:
Also, the setting was good. No one can argue with New Orleans as a good horror setting, although I thought The Skeleton Key was a much scarier movie as far as horror movies set in New Orleans go. Again: the haunting thing. The implications of the plot twist at the end of that movie were that some really nightmarish, evil shit happened to those kids. Imagining that still bothers me. I’m already over Cat People.
Finally, the story did not follow the cookie cutter horror genre plot. I did not guess the ending. You can wipe this part out if it ends the same way as the original Cat People, though.
So am I here to simply slam this movie and not bring anything to the table myself? No, I have my own offering as best horror/sci-fi movie of all time: Event Horizon. It’s got everything but chicks gettin’ nekkid, which may disqualify it out of hand for a few people, but it’s got everything else. It has a freaky story, a great setting, good acting, a splash of gore, space ships, and it gets inside your mind (the video from the original crew: wow). I can’t vouch for the score, but if our gold standard is Cat People then I don’t feel like I really have to.
Before I finish up, I would like to hand out a few awards to the film. The award for Best Foreshadowing in a Scene goes to the one where the camera rests a little too long on the extreme close up of the prod strapped to Ed Begley Jr.’s arm. It’s a “what could possibly go wrong?” moment.
Next, the Most Awkward Romance Award goes to John Heard and Kinski. Starting with the truck ride out to the bayou there is indecisive petting, nervous conversation, truly bizarre dialogue such as, “You know how to stop alligators? We should make love!” and the whole true love after knowing each other for half a week syndrome.
The Barack Obama Theme Song Award goes to David Bowie's "Theme from Cat People":
Putting out the fire with gas-o-line!Last but not least is the Sacrificial Lamb Award, which goes to Yeatman. As soon as he’s introduced you know he’s a dead man walking. He comes out of nowhere, you cannot possibly develop any emotional attachment to him, and there's no reason for him to be in the movie to begin with. “This is my, uh, older male friend who helped me build this shack and apparently lives here, too…or something.” Come on, at least make him Oliver's uncle. They didn't even give him a first name! Or did they not give him a last name? Sadly, we'll never know. Ah, Yeatman. We hardly knew ye:
That’s my take, anyway.