The Curse of the Cat People (1944)


Lewton’s sequel to the almighty “Cat People” is a mesmerizing and elegant fantasy, but it is by no means a horror film. It’s a touching drama and a perceptive social portrait that makes a great study on loneliness and creating an alternate dreamworld. In this case: a young girl that hasn’t got much contact with her classmates because of her constant daydreaming and often alarms her parents due to her isolated position. Amy eventually finds true friendship in the supernatural form of Irena, the deceased first wife of her father. Although entirely different in purpose and message, “Curse of the Cat People” actually has a lot more in common with its predecessor than it looks. Three essential characters return and their personalities haven’t changed. Irena (played by the goddess Simone Simon) is still a warm-hearted but frigid woman and Ollie is still a loving man incapable of handling the supernatural events around him. Basically, this sequel is quite a unique achievement in cinema as it forms a solid wholesome with the first, despite implementing an entirely different tone. There are some genuine moments of fear, but these are the result of a terrific sub-plot in which an elderly Mrs. Farren (Amy’s neighbor) accuses her daughter Barbara of being an impostor and a replacement for her real daughter who died in an accident. The film is beautiful to look at, with a stunning photography and excellent sets. The end-sequence (involving an imaginary metamorphosis) is breath-taking and one of the most enchanting moments in cinema history. The acting performances are flawless and the crush I had on Simone Simon only got intenser! Robert Wise does a terrific directing job (his debut) along with the unknown Gunther Von Fritsch. Wise continued working for Val Lewton one year later with the effectively creepy “The Body Snatcher”. I will probably always prefer the original “Cat People” – simply because that is one of the most impressive and intelligent stories ever – but this imaginative sequel is almost as brilliant.