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In general terms, the basic premise of both original 1942 CAT PEOPLE and the 1982 Paul Schrader remake are the same: an exotic European beauty is given to transforming into a black panther when sexually aroused. But Schrader unravels this fantasy concept in some very Freudian directions, setting his version in against the decadent charm of New Orleans, introducing a theme of incest, and ramping up the original with a lot of nudity, a lot of sex, and some of the most graphic violence around. The result is an American blood-and-gore horror film with a hypnotic European sensibility that equates both sexual frustration and orgasm with violent death. The story line concerns two orphaned siblings (Natasha Kinski and Malcom McDowell) who are reunited in New Orleans as adults-but they are, unbeknownst to the sister, the descendents of a mutant race who can only mate with their own kind without transforming into ravening beasts who must then kill to regain their human form. When sister Natasha rejects her brother's advances and then falls in love with a hunky zoo director all hell breaks loose.

In some respects the film is extremely, extremely frustrating, often sliding over the edge from a sexually provocative shocker into moments of annoying silliness-but on the whole it works extremely well as a both a sexual fantasy and the penultimate statement in gratuitous sex and violence. Kinski is ideally cast as the sexy but virginal Irena; you can literally see the "cat" side of her nature emerge more and more as the film progresses. McDowell is equally interesting as her mad brother, and John Heard, Annette O'Toole, and particularly Ruby Dee offer excellent performances in the supporting cast. The New Orleans backdrop is extremely effective, and (speaking as one who has been there) the darker side of the city is perfectly captured; the Moroder score-which includes some sultry vocals by David Bowie-is also extremely good.

A great many people will loathe CAT PEOPLE, and the reasons will be diverse. The film is extremely bloody, often to a can-you-stand-to-look-at-the-screen degree; there is tremendous nudity and considerably sexual activity; and the combination of sex and violence into a sadomasochistic eroticism is quite disturbing. Beyond this, more critically inclined viewers may find themselves annoyed by the script's occasional silliness and the fact that it does not always go as far over the top as it leads you to expect, and the film's very literal depiction of fantasy elements will certainly not to be every taste. But if you have a hunger to walk on the wild side, CAT PEOPLE (which is rapidly gaining status as a cult film) will suit your need as guilty pleasure. A personal favorite.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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on September 15, 2005
In the tradition of erotic 80's thrillers, "Cat People" stands out as a very unique and entertaining piece of work.

Young, innocent, and virginal Irena (Nastassja Kinski) can barely remember her parents or brother. She knows they were circus performers and that is about it. Having been raised in orphanages her whole life, she is finally contacted by her long lost brother Paul(Malcolm McDowell ), who is now a priest living out in New Orleans.

So... she packs it up and hightails out there to go live with him.

What she begins to learn is that her brother is quite an oddball, and she herself is beginning to have feelings and connections that she doesn't quite understand.

Ya see, Irena and Paul are from actual feline ancestors, and they themselves turn into panthers upon heightened sexual arousal. Once they turn, they are kitty killing machines-who don't turn back to normal until after they have made a kill. AWESOME!

Not only that, but they are incestuous-and they only way for them to function as humans, have a healthy sex life and pro create is to only sleep with one another. HA HA!

As Irena begins to establish a life and job for herself, her family demons began to take shape in many bizarre ways.

As the truth unfolds, Irena is left with a series of perplexing dilemmas & questions:

1. Should she believe and join her brother?
2. Should she continue to develop a relationship with that nice man at the zoo she works at?
3. Should she give in to her daily animal instincts?
4. Should she remain a virgin out of fear of killing?

"Cat People" has a purrrrfect blend of nudity, blood, & erotic/ sexual images. I can remember how this movie would always get me fired up as a young lad, and after having just revisited the film some 20 years later-it still holds the power to mesmerize and entertain.

And folks to me.....that's what makes for a good time in front of the TV.

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on August 23, 2000
"Cat People" has two things going for it: a creepy, intriguing story line; and Nastassia Kinski. Kinski is absolutely mesmerizing in the title role; an erotic, exotic presence awakening to her own sexuality and discovering that she can only have a life with one of her own kind. Paul Schrader's direction lends a eerily spooky atmosphere to the film. Malcolm McDowell is excellent as Kinski's brother who sees her as his only salvation, as she sees him as her destruction; John Heard is okay but nothing special as Kinski's lover who finally realizes what she is and commits the act that at once sets her free and imprisons her for the rest of her life; and Ruby Dee has a small but haunting role as the landlady who knows Kinski's secret and confronts her with the devastating reality of what lies ahead for her. There's plenty of blood and plenty of gore, but it all fits in with the story. It's not a great movie, but it's a very good one that deserves a wider audience.
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on December 25, 2007
Back when it was in the theater around 1982, and I was a mere 15 year old, I happened to find myself entering a very "R" rated film instead of the movie I bought a ticket for, and since, have been in love with Kinski.

Don't be put off on the films date of release, though. "The Exorcist" was a 1973 release, yet the effects and theme are still very unsettling, and no one has replicated the intensity of that film since. Neither have they with "Cat People," and still all the animal morphing and gore seem super-realistic, even though there was no computer aided effects, as they didn't exist.

This film is a remake, but a very GOOD remake, of an old film that simply 'suggested' the reason for the animalistic transformations. With Kinsky at the helm, and her non-issue with full frontal nudity, the viewer is able to see the dynamics of a woman struggling with her sexuality, the unresolved issues surrounding her brother and family, and her deflowering, only to find herself transformed into a black panther.

I was surprised the film had received an 'R' rating, to be honest. At the time, I would have thought pseudo-fellatio, female genitalia, breasts, a little bit of S & M, and very graphic dismemberments would warrent an 'X,' but somehow the director, Paul Schrader, passed with an 'R.' The film, itself, is truly about uninhibited sexual expression, likening it to that of an animal. At times it may appear pornographic, but quickly, something horrific happens, so there isn't a margin for the viewer to find anything arousing, as it is clearly delineated within the boundries of cinema. While it may vascillate into what appears like porn, the reason this film isn't a pornographic piece is that it has no intention of titillating the viewer. Every explicit sex act on screen is followed immediately by dismantlement.

Siskel and Ebert both gave it a "thumbs-up" back then, and I figured if they found it fascinating, I'd feel the same.

And I did.
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on May 9, 2001
The original b&w Cat People (and it's sequel) are extremely tame compared with this erotic-charged version. Indeed, the originals are downright boring compared to this. The reason? For one thing Kinski is absolutely striking and even distracting. Sorry, but I'm a guy, and Nastassja Kinski was at her most sexy during this period. With those big eyes, luscious lips and...ump, everything else, it's tough to keep up with the flow of the story without your eyes becoming transfixed on her loveliness. What's here is beyond the obvious soft porn feel; but a fine horror outing in the same vein as AMERICAN WEREWOLVE IN LONDON. Kinski is suitably virgin-esque and McDowell suitably slimy. The visuals are very effective but surprisingly limited. The black cats are amazing to watch throughout. Scored by David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder, the music is sufficently creepy and memorable.
As for the DVD version, the picture is mostly good. The sound is a little lacking. There were times when I had to turn it all the way up to hear. Other time I'd get my eardrums blown off. Also, no extras at all. I'd like to know how they dealt with all those big panthers. Surely there was a "Making of" feature suitable for inclusion here.
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on February 16, 2014
I have loved this title since its initial release in 1982! Although Val Lewton's 1942 edition is shot in black and white and has tremendous atmospheric presence, this updated version has its own flashiness! The cast is great and the screenplay will not disappoint!
The video presentation is about average at best! If there is any grain present it is tough for me to notice! The audio on the other hand is exemplary! I was impressed with the LFE on this release!
If you can tolerate the smooth waxiness of the video quality, you'll be OK!
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on January 24, 2014
As a big fan of Nastassja Kinski, I am well satisfied with the new Blu-Ray release of Cat People. The Blu-Ray is richer in color than the HD DVD version and the night scenes look sharper. As far as the movie is concerned, Nastassja Kinski carries this film throughout. She is aided by good performances by Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, and Annette O'Toole. One of the films major strengths is the soundtrack by Giorgio Moroder. My only disappointment is the cast interviews. Would have liked more discussions of the film.On the HD DVD release, there is a Commentary throughout by Director Paul Schrader which provides a lot of insight on the making of the film. It should have been included. Despite some criticism of the film transfer, I thought the film looks great on my set, and it's a worthwhile addition to my film library.
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on April 29, 2006
Although mostly true to the original this one adds a new element to the story. Nastassia Kinski discovers she has a brother and moves to live with him. Said brother is a little strange as is his housekeeper. They seem to know something about her that they are not saying. Then a killer panther is captured at the same time the brother disappears. The cat is housed at a local zoo and Kinski visits it. From there she gets a job at the zoo and becomes close to one of the other workers there.

But Kinski's feelings bring consequences that she can not yet understand. But as her brother gets in trouble she learns some of the truth of her heritage. Now she must try to find some way to balance what she feels in her heart with the curse she carries. With the help of her new friend she comes up with what she feels is the only solution.

While this film manages to remain fairly true to the original, even duplicating some scenes, it seems more concerned with sex than it does with the original story. Nastasha could go around topless throughout the movie and hardly reveal more than she does with all her transparent clothing. She also has a confusing change of personality when she stalks another character. But all in all it manages to be a pretty good film and a fine tribute. Check it out.
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VINE VOICEon June 12, 2007
CAT PEOPLE is basically a cross between a werewolf movie & a vampire movie. Like a werewolf movie, it involves people transforming into animals (in this case, black panthers). Like a vampire movie, it is heavy on eroticism and sensuality.

The film stars Nastassja Kinski as a young woman who goes to visit her brother (Malcom McDowell) for the first time in many years. She soon finds out that she carries the family "curse" of going into a metamorphosis and becoming a leapord.

Nastassja is PERFECT for this part as she has a slender, curvy, feline body. It matches up with her becoming a leapord very nicely. Annette O'Toole is quite attractive too, with more of a girl-next-door type of beauty. Best of all, both girls look absolutely fantastic topless!

If you like erotic thrillers / werewolf movies / vampire movies, my guess is that CAT PEOPLE will more than likely be to your liking. It is sultry, sexy and entertaining in a feline sort of way.
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on November 4, 2013
With the possible exception of Giorgio Moroder's synthesizer-heavy score (Although the song "Cat People" rocks) this film is as fresh as when it came out in 1982. Atmospheric, sensual, unnerving, and artistically shot and conceived, Cat People is a great thriller. And Nastassia Kinski pretty much steals every scene with her preternatural beauty. She's as feline as any actress ever, and affects a real sense of pathos and tragedy as Irina, a girl in the verge of her sexual awakening--one that she instinctively knows has dark consequences. Solid supporting performances from John Heard, Malcolm McDowell, and Annette O'Toole, although I found Ruby Dee's accent unconvincing.

On the whole an intriguing and entertaining parable of repression, desire, and our never ending struggle to suppress our animal instincts.
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