FT Top 100 Films

So you’ve made a low budget horror movie, received well, regarding the fears of a woman Irena (Simone Simon) who believes she turns into a cat when aroused. Despite this she enters into a relationship with Ollie Reed and her claims are put to the ultimate test (the veracity of her belief I shall not spoil for any who have not seen it). Remade in the late seventies where the sex quotient up and therefore all the lovely allegories were lost. Anyway, I am not here to talk about Cat People, as good as it is. Instead we are here to praise its sequel.

The Curse Of The Cat People takes place about five years after the original events in Cat People. It has much the same cast, playing the same characters – however the local has gone from the dark shadows of the city to a much more pastoral setting. And the film shifts its attention to Amy, the five year old daughter of Ollie Reed, who was married to Simone Simon in the original. Amy seems to have an imaginary friend who she talks to, again played by Simone Simon. The film concerns itself with the mystery of this imaginary friend and the suspense caused by it. This could be seen as a blueprint for the creepy kid movies of late, except for one crucial difference. The film is told from Amy’s point of view.

The Curse Of The Cat People is not a horror movie at all. Instead it is a young (much younger than most) coming of age story that just happens to have the same characters as the previous film. Simone Simon plays Irena again, but as an imaginary friend who has little to do with the first film. Instead we are shown the hopes and fears of a five year old in a total unexpected form. Oddly the film remains consistent with the originals tone, but enrichens both films by being so different. Simon is bewitching as a much lighter version of the character in the first film, but the film is owned by Ann Carter, as the girl with the over-active imagination. As a film about the potential menace of childhood I prefer it to Night of The Hunter, as here the threats may not be as real as presented. The film is on the whole ambivalent about imagination, which considering its own leaps of faith is surprising. Robert Wise the director may have thought the curse of Cat People was to make a sequel. He managed to craft one of the loveliest and most surprising ones in the process.