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Cat People – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Cat-PeopleI have never seen the original Cat People film from which this is based.  But from what I gather, this is a case in which a remake is a novel concept because the original film wasn’t very good in the first place.  Universal was trying to jump on the coattails off the success of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake and putting a lot of remakes of older properties into production (sound familiar?).  Cat People was one such project as well as John Carpenter’s The Thing.  Writer Paul Schrader stepped in to make his 4th feature film and decided to spin this old tale into one of a more erotic horror film.  The film was a mild success back in 1982, but has since become a bit of a cult item, even if Paul Schrader doesn’t think it qualifies as one.

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Film 

After a little introduction in which we see a tribe sacrifice a woman to a panther, we focus on Irena.  Irena has moved to New Orleans to reunite with her brother Paul for the first time since their parents died.  Irena takes a job at the zoo and Paul disappears.  At the zoo, a panther that mauled a hooker in a sleezy hotel is brought in.  After killing one of the zoo’s employees, the panther disappears and Paul reappears at home.  Paul lets Irena in on their family secret.  If they have intercourse with someone they will turn into a panther and can only turn back if they kill someone.  However, if they keep incestuous they will not turn.  The film deals with Irena’s escaping her brother and dealing with the internal conflict of her heritage while falling in love with her boss at the zoo, Oliver.

I haven’t seen Cat People since I was very young and picked it up on VHS.  It was one of those video store staples back in the day.  Everybody knew that box that sat in the horror section of your local mom and pop video store.  When trying to see everything in the horror section in my youth I eventually stumbled upon this one.  I think part of my interest in seeing it was that it featured a topless Annette O’Toole.  I don’t think I really had an appreciation for this film back in the day as sex was kind of a taboo thing and a film revolving around it as a theme was not of my interest.

As an adult though, this one a pretty cool little frolic.  What seemed pretty explicit back then was rather tame now.  We might as well call Lifeforce an erotic journey if this one is considered an erotic horror movie, because it features just about as much.  The film boasts a good looking cast with some steamy scenes and some really bloody ones even if some people don’t think it’s that graphic.  The scene where Ed Begley Jr gets his arm ripped off is still pretty brutal and gushes plenty of blood.

One of the things I couldn’t fully appreciate back in the day and I think more people will unlock with this Blu-ray is the incredible dedication to style this film has.  There’s a lot of cool lighting schemes going on and some very iconic looking shot setups.  To back it up there is a really really sick synthetic score to accompany all this feline frenzy.  I need to get ahold of it.  And what wouldn’t top the style factor without a great David Bowie song?  Yep, that’s in there too.

Cat People is a stylish sexual romp that has some great horror elements surrounding it.  It features an impressive turn by a then 20 year old Nastassja Kinski.  She’s bares all and owns the film.  Helping her out is the always fantastic Malcolm McDowell as a total creeper.  The film boasts some great setups, chases and steamy scenes.  Its something I’m happy to have revisited and found an appreciation for where my younger self just didn’t seem to be ready for.

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Video 

The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding is a rather impressive one.  There may be some rough patches in the desert scenes (which the film opens with one), but I think that has to do with the lighting and sources for it.  The rest of the film features a nicely detailed presentation that harkens to what I imagined it looked like with the cleanest print when it had its original theatrical run.  The lighting in the movie is handled quite impressively here, where scenes like the one at the pool look absolutely gorgeous (and I’m not just talking about a topless Annette O’Toole either).  Overall, I think Scream Factory translated this stylish film over to Blu-ray with care and it shows.  I hadn’t seen this film since its VHS days and I was pretty damn amused with it.

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Audio 

Like most of the Collector’s Edition series, you have 2 audio tracks to choose from.  In this case, go ahead and pass on the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track.  Its volume is set at a low level, feeling kind of quite and very front heavy.  The 2.0 DTS-HD MA track is kicking though.  This one is loud and proud.  It actually has some good booming effects as well.  You won’t even miss that you’re not listening to a 5.1 track.  Everything sounds louder, clearer, crisper and well defined.  Sometimes these films original audio doesn’t translate well into a 5.1 scheme; this is one of those cases.  But, let me assure you, this 2.0 track is going to suit your fancy just well.

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Extras 

In addition to the disc, the case comes with a reversible cover featuring the original theatrical poster art.

Cast And Crew Interviews – There is a slew of interviews here.  I wonder why they didn’t weave them all into one little feaurette, but it’s nice to have them all here, assumingly uncut.  Nastassja Kinski came across really shy while all the others seemed pretty fine discussing the movie.  And everyone seems to mention how much they loved working with John Heard.

  • Nastassja Kinski (HD, 5:56)
  • Annette O’Toole (HD, 8:25)
  • John Heard (HD, 6:12)
  • Malcolm McDowell (HD, 7:35)
  • Lynn Lowry (HD, 5:53)
  • Giorgio Moroder (HD, 5:32)
  • Paul Schrader (HD, 9:13)

 Theatrical Trailer (2:18)

 TV Spots (HD, :31) – “Consult your local paper for showtimes” ahhh, made me nostalgic!

Photo Gallery – 112 promotional images with some inserts and lobby cards.

Production Art & Posters – 31 images of lobby cards, posters and sketches.

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Summary 

Scream Factory kicks off 2014 with another grand Collector’s Edition.  Cat People is a cult item that should happily grace horror fans’ collections.  While a bit tame sexually by today’s standards its still is able to bring the heat and stimulate you with its horror thrills.  This edition comes with a nice clump of interviews and has a really good audio and video transfer to present the film.  This is another easy pickup from the kings of retro horror Blu-rays.


Cat-People-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

3 Responses to “Cat People – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Mark

    In one fell swoop, you killed your credibility as a reviewer by not only making a qualitative judgment on a film you haven’t seen but also by demonstrating complete ignorance of the history of two well-regarded classic films, one of which (the original “Cat People”) has been listed as one of film auteur Martin Scorcese’s favorite films. I just can’t take you seriously.

  2. Brandon Peters

    Thanks for reading, Mark! Always wonderful and rewarding to hear such credible appreciative praise from my fans! Wishing you a great and safe 2014!

  3. Gerard Iribe

    I’m looking forward to this edition to finally replace my HD-DVD copy. I actually own the Criterion Collection laserdisc of the original.