Cat People (1982) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

This is another film where the actual footage must play a distant second fiddle to the material left on the cutting room floor.

Director Paul Schrader and leading lady Nastassja Kinski had an affair during the production, to the extent that a coked-out Schrader was obsessed with Kinski, asked for her hand in marriage, and was shattered when she not only refused the proposal, but broke off the entire relationship and fled to Paris after the filming.

Schrader was distraught to the point of stalking her, and when he finally tracked her down, she told him the whole affair never meant a thing to her. "Paul, I fuck all my directors. And with you it was difficult."

The enraged Schrader had the perfect tool for revenge. During the filming, he had shot a little extra private footage, if you catch my drift, and he threatened to use it. Kinski knew the footage really existed, and reported the threat to producer Ned Tanen. The narrative is picked up by Peter Biskind, in his book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls": (Paperback info from Amazon)

Tanen rolled his eyes, picked up the phone, and called Schrader. "Listen, you fucking idiot, this girl is running around telling everybody you shot her crotch and you're going to put beaver shots in the middle of this movie, what the fuck are you doing?"

"Oh man, she fucked me over and I'm going to fuck her"

"Jesus Christ, you asshole, don't put any beaver shots in this movie"

Now, I ask you, would those make great deleted scenes for a special edition DVD, or what? 

Schrader kept the beaver shots out of the film, but did manage to keep Kinski completely naked for the entire second half of the movie, including numerous full frontals. Despite that, the film bombed at the box office. Schrader's box office failure, when coupled with his drug abuse and his close encounter with making this a beaver film, earned him a quick trip out of town for a decade or so, during which he worked on independent material. Since that time he has made "The Comfort of Strangers", that weird Harold Pinter vehicle in which Chris Walken and Helen Mirren are the old Venetian aristocrats who murder young people sadistically, and "Forever Mine", that made-for-cable film with Gretchen Mol and Shakespeare.


Kinski is stark naked for most of the second half of the movie. 

Annette O'Toole does an extended topless scene when she undresses for a swim, then jumps in the pool topless.

Lynn Lowry and Tessa Richard appear topless as prostitutes killed by the male kitty.

John Heard shows his buns in two sex scenes.

Malcolm McDowell shows his manroot in a post-coital awakening scene, just after transforming back to human state

Although Shrader had a reputation as part of the new Hollywood brat pack in the seventies, that is based on his scripts, not his direction. He wrote three rather famous New Hollywood scripts for films piloted by Martin Scorsese, "Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver", and "The Last Temptation of Christ"

As for this film, well, I can tell you the second half is much better than the first, because.

  • In the first half, nothing happens to a bunch of fully-dressed people.
  • In the second half, nothing happens to a bunch of naked people.

I rest my case.

Malcolm McDowell and Kinski are brother and sister Cat People in this loose remake of the 1942 horror classic of the same name. The Cat People are descendants of leopards who mated with human females when the latter were left as a sacrifice. They may only mate safely with each other, and maybe with Sammy Davis Jr, since he was always saying how he "loved those cats". 

Sammy isn't around, therefore the brother tells sis to spread 'em wide, and she just isn't happy with the whole incest thing, since she didn't even realize she was a cat chick, and was kinda hoping for a life among humans who were not in her immediate family. The story takes place in New Orleans, but even in Louisiana they normally try to get no closer than first cousins when choosing to mate. Problem is that if the cat folks mate with humans, they transmogrify into convenient kitty form and must then kill and devour something, usually their mates, in order to undergo the reverse metamorphosis back into human form.

Thank heaven for the cops on the street. The scientists and zookeeper find some strange apparati in Malcolm McDowell's basement, some S&M stuff for chaining people up, and some remains of dead humans. Nobody knows what to make of it except the beat cop, who says something like "aw, sarge, it's just the stuff that cat people use when they want to get laid without going on a killing spree."

Or maybe I imagined that. 

The 1942 original left room for doubt about whether the cats and the humans were the same creatures, but the transformations are obvious and explicit in this film. Some of the changes back and forth were shown on screen in real time, inspired by the popularity of similar transformations in The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, which came out just before this film. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 1.85:1, good transfer

  • no meaningful features

John Heard plays a zookeeper who wants to keep Nastassja, but eventually his zookeeper salary isn't enough to manage the bills for raw meat and kitty litter. Plus he needs a really big litter box and he has a small apartment.

So he makes nice-nice with her after first tying her up so she can't devour him. Then, after humping the daylights out of her, he waits for her to change into a kitty, and then donates her to the zoo. Since he's the zookeeper, we figure they'll still manage to see one another.


Cat People (1982) is a Paul Schrader remake of a 1942 film about people who are half leopard and half human. It seems that people used to sacrifice their daughters to the leopard gods, and a mixed race evolved. Nastassia Kinski has been raised by foster families, and arrives in New Orleans to live with her brother, Malcolm McDowell. She is unaware that she is a leopard woman, because the symptoms don't become obvious until you lose your virginity. Her brother knows, and he also knows that they can only mate with their own kind. Otherwise, they have to kill after sex, or be trapped in the leopard form.

Shortly after she arrives, her brother mauls a hooker, and is captured by the curator of the local zoo, and his assistant. Kinski falls for the curator, and wants nothing to do with an incestuous relationship with her brother. Eventually, brother is done in by the powers that be, and Kinski loses her virginity to the curator, who keeps her in cat form forever.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 2/4.

  • It received two Golden Globe nominations for music.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.8, 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "this film is a C+ as a celebrity nudity exploitation film, probably one of the five best ever made. If "Breeders" is the "Gone with the Wind" of celebrity screen nudity, and "Sirens" is our "Godfather", then surely "Cat People" must be our "Citizen Kane". And Nasty Kinski is our Orson Welles. She did a passel of nude scenes in this epic:  beautiful, artistic, full-frontal ... all the things that make life worthwhile except humor and a well-struck 2-iron. As a horror film, it is a C-. Lovely photography, interesting soundtrack, dull story. Tuna says, "I did enjoy some of Kinski's performance, showing feline tendencies before she was even aware of why, and the photography was rather nice, but that pretty much covers the positives. This is a C- as a horror film, but has excellent nudity."

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