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Cat People – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory has been on a mission to update previous Collector’s Edition Blu-rays that rocked our world many moons ago onto the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. It makes for a perfect time to upgrade and also to revisit some of these that maybe haven’t been picked up since they had last come out. Going back through the films and the extras and brushing back up on things is quite fun. Case in point, Paul Schrader’s Cat People is back from them with a brand new 4K transfer and all of its lovely extras back in tow. It’ll be here to own on August 30th. You can pre-order using the Shout! Factory website or by clicking on the paid Amazon Associate’s link that follows the review at the bottom of the page.

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Film

Originally published 12/30/2013

Directed by Paul Schrader (Hardcore, American Gigolo, Affliction), this provocative and memorable cult hit is a remake of the 1942 Jacques Tourneur horror/noir classic. The film stars Nastassja Kinski as Irena, a beautiful young woman who discovers love for the first time only to find that the experience brings tragic consequences. The tremendous passion of this woman’s first romantic love is so strong, however, it bypasses the chaos around her – including the extraordinary demands of her brother (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange) – as it pushes her on to her own bizarre destiny. This erotic fantasy about the passion and terror surrounding this first love also stars John Heard (Awakenings), Annette O’Toole (48 Hrs.), Ruby Dee (Do The Right Thing) and Lynn Lowry (Shivers).

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.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Cat People’s 4K debut features a 2022 4K scan of the original camera negative. This is a pretty lovely improvement over what came before (which was good, but had room for improvement). What really helps here is the ability to better saturate the black levels and bolster the contrast to really help make this a more magical looking image. It also doesn’t hurt to have more visible detail and crispness to the image as well.

Depth:  Depth of field is definitely improved here, with much more spacious interiors and a bit grander scale on some the exterior/matted shots. Movement is filmic and smooth with no issues regarding any motions distortions in rapid action sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are what really helps set this one apart and craft a great distance for the improvement. Much more information is visible in the darkness and the contrast really helps bring out much more of the color and lighting. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors have a much more bold and well saturated look to them. They really have a good pop in the light and things like displays, fire, lamps and more get a good bump in the HDR. The stylized desert sequences look quite luscious now and feature a lot more nuance.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures come through quite clear from any reasonable distance in the frame and the makeup effects showcase plenty of information and hold up under the 4K scrutiny with ease.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Cat People’s 4K debut features the same audio options as that of the standard Blu-ray Collector’s Edition. In the original review, I noted of the 5.1 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.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: …notes in the “Dynamics” section

Surround Sound Presentation: …notes in the “Dynamics’ section

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Cat People – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Disc set that comes with reversible cover art, featuring an alternate poster image. Aside from the commentary (on both discs), all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • with director Paul Schrader

Theatrical Trailer (2:49) – This is a combo of the theatrical trailer and a TV Spot. They look sourced from VHS.

Interview With Director Paul Schrader (HD, 9:13)

Interview With Actress Nastassja Kinski (HD, 5:56)

Interview With Actress Annette O’Toole (HD, 8:25)

Interview With Actor John Heard (HD, 6:12)

Interview With Actor Malcolm McDowell (HD, 7:34)

Interview With Actress Lynn Lowry (HD, 5:53)

Interview With Composer Giorgio Moroder (HD, 5:32)

An Intimate Set Portrait By Paul Schrader (HD, 25:23) – From the 2002 DVD release of the film, new to this 4K version of Scream Factory (Wasn’t on their standard Blu-ray one), it has Paul Schrader giving a pretty open and honest account of making the film.

On The Set With Director Paul Schrader (HD, 10:21) – An off camera woman asks Paul Schrader questions on the set of the movie.

Filmmaker Robert Wise On The Producer Of The Original Cat People, Val Lewton (HD, 3:33) – The legendary filmmaker answers onscreen prompted questions about collaborating with Val Lewton and the original Cat People films. Wise’s directorial debut was on the sequel to the original The Curse of The Cat People.

Special Makeup Effects By Tom Burman (HD, 11:14) – Another ported over feature from the original, this is the special effects one that was an angle sort of lacking from the previous Scream Factory release.

Matte Paintings (HD, 3:10) – A video that sort of shows how the matte painting process worked on the film, with some before and after time lapse type montages with the score playing against it.

Photo Gallery – Includes promotional stills, posters and lobby cards.

Production Art – Contains a few sketches.

Summary

1982’s Cat People is a complete vibe and excellent stylish viewing experience. Scream Factory’s new release ups those visuals with an improved image transfer based on the 4K restoration of the original camera negative. While no “new” bonus features were made for this, they were able to port over the excellent ones from the 2002 DVD release which weren’t present on the last Collector’s Edition. This is about as definitive and “the last word on” Paul Schrader’s Cat People as you’re going to get!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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