After years of separation, Irina and her minister brother, Paul, reunite in New Orleans in this erotic tale of the supernatural. When zoologists capture a wild panther, Irina is drawn to the cat -- and the zoo curator is drawn to her. Soon, Irina's brother will have to reveal the family secret: that when sexually aroused, they turn into predatory jungle cats.
***Atmospheric, artistic, dramatic horror in New Orleans*** "Cat People" came out in 1982 and is a modern take on the classic 1942 film. Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell are siblings cursed to become were-panthers if sexually aroused. The only way they can become human again is to kill a fellow human. The idea is absurd and fantastical, but "Cat People" takes the subject absolutely seriously. John Heard plays a zoo manager who falls in love with Kinski’s character, while Annette O'Toole plays the third person in the romantic triangle. The movie’s engrossing and has style & pizazz. For instance, the flashback scenes of the ancient panther tribe doing rituals in an orange desert are surreal and captivating; the accompanying atmospheric music by Giorgio Moroder adds to the mood nicely, along with David Bowie’s theme song. While both are decidedly 80’s, they fit the flick and are somehow timeless. Both Kinski and McDowell are properly cat-like. McDowell, as usual, has a weird and diabolic air about him. John Heard is fine as the protagonist and redhead O'Toole is simply gorgeous. Speaking of which, Kinski is indeed quite attractive, as observed in the scene of her fishing with Heard in hot pants and wader boots, but O'Toole steals Kinski’s thunder a bit, particularly in the pool sequence. This is a great flick for showcasing the New Orleans area and the Sothern Gothic ambiance thereof. Keep in mind that it’s definitely a horror flick and so can be pretty brutal at times. On a related note, if nudity offends you then you might want to skip it as many of the characters are shown totally nude or near nude. The film runs just shy of 2 hours and was shot in the New Orleans area with some stuff done in the Los Angeles region (e.g. studio work and the panther tree sequence). GRADE: B+/A-