Curse of the Cat People (1944)
Directed by: Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise
Written by: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Ann Carter, Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Sir Lancelot, Eve March
As far as I can tell, Val Lewton did not want to make a sequel to Cat People. It shows. Not that this movie is bad. It's actually pretty good. It just doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything.
Okay, yeah, so it's the same boring American couple from the first movie, and yeah, Irena's ghost shows up (though in this one she's more French than Serbian. Go figure), but there aren't any Cat People, and there doesn't seem to be a Curse.
It has more to do with a desperately lonely and antisocial little girl who lives in her head, and makes friends with the ghost of her father's first, dead wife, as well as an aged actress who lives with her hateful daughter.
The girl in the leading role is a pretty good actress, and I liked her. I usually don't like kids in movies, but she was weird and kind of sparkly. She hit a guy for killing a butterfly, I mean, how cooler can you get?
Her parents were dull, American and painfully bourgeois (one of my favourite words, after 'stuff', 'things' and 'extortion'), and her dad was an evil asshole who liked model boats way too much. But the dead wife was still cool (she was cool when she was alive, too, but she seemed to get nicer when she died).
It was a sweet, charming little movie, all from the point of view of a child, which was cool. Usually childishly sweet movies make me nauseous, but this one touched me for some reason. Maybe it was the presence of a dead woman, I don't know.
Of course, that was just one part of the movie. It was all over the place, really. There was the old actress, who is convinced that her daughter died at the age of six and that the woman living with her is an impostor. Then there's the parents trying to cope with the rather traumatizing death of the husbands first wife (he didn't really love her, but she did kill a guy and turn into a panther). Then there's the fact that the whole thing is set in like, Sleepy Hollow or some shit. What the hell was that about? And, of course, the creepy, creepy butler. Okay, he wasn't creepy in the traditional creepy butler sense, but he freaked me out. I'm sorry.
I thought most of that stuff was kind of unnecessary. I'd've liked it to be just about the little girl and the dead cat woman, but that's okay. The other stuff works on some level. It's tolerable, anyway.
As a sequel to Cat People, I guess it fails miserably, but as a stand alone movie, it was quite good. Maybe if they had a different title... anyway, it still had the sort of moody tone and spiffy shadows, so what the hell. It's a good companion piece to Cat People anyway. It sort of shows the nicer side to everything. I guess. It was sweet.
How can I write this while avoiding cheesy sentimentality? It's very difficult...
((There, that solved everything))