Friday, January 14, 2011

Film #51: The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

What a double standard!
A child has an imaginary friend, and she is called creative.
Two grown men have an imaginary friend, and they are called crackheads.

Case in point. The RDHP has a “faux” friend named Frankwolf, a half sensitive werewolf, half reanimated corpse manimal. We’ve taught Frankwolf to roll over, do our taxes, play Hot Cross Buns on a recorder, and tear out the throat of our enemies (and there are soooo many enemies).
And because of one invisible friend we are now typing this from our special white room.
But look on the bright side… the electro-shocks make us piss our pants!

Our mental problems pale in comparison to whittle Amy Reed, the focal point of this week’s movie, “The Curse of the Cat People.” Amy is a “dreamer,” which is a nice way of saying the little b*$ch likes to make up lies about the world.

Because she is a weirdo, no friends will have her, and soon her parents get sick of the brat hanging around the house. Speaking of Amy’s parents, regular readers may remember them. Amy’s Dad is Oliver Reed, who was married to cat obsessed psycho Irena in this film’s precursor, Cat People.

In that film, Irena believed that she was afflicted with an old country curse that would cause her to turn into a man-eating cat when riled up. Oliver worked with Amy’s mother, the ahead-of-her-time-lady-architect Alice, who eventually stole Oliver away from Irena, sending Irena into a rage that “transformed” her into a cat and eventually led to her death.

Well, here we are several years later, and with Irena buried in an old shoe box (where else would you bury a cat) adulterers Oliver and Alice are living a happy life with a daydreaming grade-schooler.

But Irena obviously has nine lives, and is sprung back into the world of the living after Amy makes a wish for a friend of her very own. Oh the fun they have! Running around, talking about Dads affairs, etc. Amy sees a picture of Irena in her father’s memories box (who keeps pics of their murderous ex-wife?) and shouts, “Hey, look, it is my friend.”

Oliver and Alice start to worry. Oh no, has Irena returned from the grave to haunt their child? Or, possibly even worse, could their daughter be insane for imagining Irena is really her flesh and blood friend?

The more Amy hangs out with Irena, the more she beings to act like her, and the more the 'rents worry. Cue in a subplot about a delusional old woman who lives down the road, and you've got a film packed with more looneys than a Canadian parking meter.

Has Irena returned from the dead to curse the Reed family in revenge? Is Amy a nut job or just “creative”? Just what kind of accent is Irena’s anyway (sounds like Mushmouth!) Find out, in the 1944 Val Lewton classic “The Curse of the Cat People.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.5
Chris Dimick purrrs:
“Like a stingy wishbone, I’m split right down the middle and not dish out any magic. Is this movie brilliant or boring? Yes, it is, and that is why I can’t decide which way to turn on this black and white beauty.

Ambiguity in a movie can be alluring, and Curse has plenty of it. Was the little girl making it all up, and Irena was really an “imaginary friend”? Or, was Irena really haunting her from beyond the grave? Or, even more perplexing, was Irena trying to protect Alice?
It’s left up to the audience to decide, and for that I applaud Curse.

However, ambiguity is also the lame-o’s playground. While the film did have impact in its subtly and mystery, it was just too slow and snoozy for me to sing abundant praise.

I feel like a Texas ranch hand accidently walking into a Tranny bar. Sure, all the women look beautiful at first in the low light, even mysterious and intriguing.
But just before he asks that first “lady” to dance, something deep down in that Texan’s core tells him funny business is afoot.

There was just something “off” about Curse. I get what they were going for, and from what I can tell they succeeded in producing an entertaining and thought-provoking movie.
But my gut tells me there is a set of nuts under that skirt.”

N-Rating: 2.6
Nick Rich purrrs:
"While not as good as RKO's first nip at a cat story, I found The Curse of the Cat People to be oddly enjoyable. Whether you will think so too is anyone's guess.

Admittedly, I'm a bit strange (you may have noticed this if you've been reading for a while). As a strange person, there are times when things that others may find... mundane, amuse and entertain me. Honestly, I'm not sure if this is the case with CotCP. Judging by the division in Chris' mind, I think an educated guess would be that most people wouldn't dig this flick. But for me... there was something about it I kinda vibed on- I mean, come on! It had a magic tree mailbox! What more could you want?

What's that you say? A decent plot? Well, don't go getting greedy now!

Maybe what endeared me to this picture was the constant state of expecting something to happen... for a payoff to materialize. I suppose I was taken with the idea of wanting to be taken with the story; that and it was amusingly random at times (case in point: the articulate Jamaican housekeeper who always referred to Amy as 'little miss').

In the tradition of the first film, CotCP keeps you guessing as to
what's the dillio with the plot. In fact, the story is so seemingly random I found myself hoping for a Crash-esq payoff at the end (which does materialize, in case you're wondering, albeit in a lackluster fashion). I think this would irk most people.
Me, I just enjoyed watching the ambling, rambling time-capsule of a story go about its little adventure. There were just enough moments of cool outfits and outrageous 1940's behavior to keep me mildly amused... I suppose it may be like what life is like on Valium. Which doesn't knock your socks off, but it can certainly be a pleasant way to pass the evening (or so I would imagine).

I'm not even going to get into whether or not this is a horror film, but I can most assuredly say that if you're a fan of House of 1,000 Corpses it is probably safe to skip this one. That is of course unless your girlfriend is a hipster with a 1940's lean, then you might score some bookoo points for having a sit-down with CotCP.

The Skinny: Check this flick if you're in the mood for a mood stabilizer... or if you want to know how to not raise your children."

Things We Learned from Curse of the Cat People:
-You can’t mail letters via “magic tree mailboxes.”
-Amy likes to dream.
-It is very easy to ditch a child with the “Look at that…” bit.
-A hoop and stick is the most boring toy ever invented.
-We’ve said it before, but the 1940s had damn great women’s fashion.
-“Any note, no matter how sour, sounds like a song if you hold onto it for long enough.”
-God should use a rose amber spot on the too bright sun.
-Opening Xmas prezzies on Xmas Eve is considered “proper.”
-History is written by the victors.
-Love hurts:

Quote of the Viewing:
[Amy befriends a senile old woman who claims her daughter/caretaker is an imposter. Taking a shine to Amy, the woman and her exchange Christmas presents.]

Old Woman: “Shall I show you your Christmas present, Amy?”
Nick: “[Old Woman Voice] I’ve set your house on fire.”
Chris: “And killed your parents.”

RDHP Presents:
Other Famous Curses
If you thought the curse of the Cat People was bad, just take a look at the following lingering mojo hexed on folks. It is all enough to make you stuff a rabbits foot, four leaf clover, and Kardashian sister in your underwear (you know, all things that are lucky).

Curse of the Billy Goat
Legend has it that Chicago tavern owner Billy Sianis put this curse on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 after ushers refused to let his goat sit next to him at the World Series in Wrigley Field. The Cubs haven't even gone to the Series since.

The Curse of Age 27
The Curse of 27 is the belief that 27 is an unlucky number due to the number of famous musicians and entertainers who have died at the age. Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Janis Joplin, Jonathan Brandis and Kurt Cobain are all believed to have been affected by the Curse of 27.

Curse in “Drag Me To Hell”
Help an old lady who doesn't pay her bills, or finally get that promotion. Christine Brown chose the latter, and it only cost her a soul in this 2009 Sam Raimi carnival ride of a horror flick.

Curse of the Hope Diamond
You don't want this sparkler dangling around your neck. Just ask Marie Antoinette.

Curse of the Great Bambino
This curse began after the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth, The Great Bambino, against his wishes to the New York Yankees in the off-season of 1919-1920. Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises, winning the first World Series and amassing five World Series titles. But after the sale they went without a title for 86-years, as the previously lackluster Yankees became one of the most successful franchises in North American professional sports. Don't cross The Babe.

The Superman Curse
Apparently taking on the role of the Man of Steel is kryptonite for the important things in life, like your career, mental well-being and well... your life.

The Kennedy Curse
Sure, you are rich and powerful. But you're gonna die horribly.
Guess we'd rather be poor and powerless.

The SoCal Curse
Ah, life in sunny Southern California!
Here we are in January and the forecast for tomorrow is 76 degrees and sunny... What a life! Well, that is until the biblical fires come (as they seem to do every 3 years!) and give residents practice for the end of days!

The Curse of Montezuma
(aka "Montezuma's Revenge")
Now here's a curse that really scares the you-know-what out of people!
It's estimated that 40% of foreign traveler vacations in good ol' Mexico are disrupted by Montezuma. Not traveling to Mexico any time soon? Fear not! I'd wager there is a Taco Bell in your neighborhood eagerly waiting to spring this dreaded curse upon you!

(We figured you wouldn't want to see an actual picture of Montezuma's Revenge)


  1. "We’ve taught Frankwolf to roll over, do our taxes, play Hot Cross Buns on a recorder"

    Hot Cross Buns, I love it.

  2. It is a catchy tune! :)
    Aaaaah recorders...