Cat People

Co-presented by Hangover Matinees and Friday Night Frights

Live set by DJ Mean Mr. Mustard

In a 1940s Hollywood deeply beholden to a strictly-enforced Hays Code, RKO somehow thought it safe to approach a script in which an exotic, sensual woman’s every carnal desire manifests as a literal animal–one with killer instincts. Filed close to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers end of your local video store’s “Noir” section, Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People teases with subverted sexuality and allusions to potential danger without ever quite tipping into glorified obscenity; there’s the spirit of an exploitation film hidden somewhere within Irena’s (played with prowling prowess by the gorgeous Simone Simon) deep fear of her own corporeal power. Even with suppressed erotic notions, Cat People exists as a thoughtful inquiry into how a proper woman “ought to” sexually express herself. With harsh shadows and dramatic lighting somehow executed for under $150,000, Tourneur’s dangerous, slightly sleazy horror-noir still titillates and terrifies over 70 years later.

Dir. Jacques Tourneur, 1942, 16mm, 73 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!