Movie Name: The Curse of the Cat People
Release Date(s): March 2, 1944
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) and his wife Alice (Jane Randolph) are happy in their lives and trying to raise their daughter Amy (Ann Carter) who has a huge imagination that leaves her isolated from other children. When gets a ring from an eccentric old woman named Julia Farren (Julia Dean), she sparks jealousy in her daughter Barbara (Elizabeth Russell). Amy feels the ring gives her powers to summon her friend who happens to be the image of her father’s first wife Irena (Simone Simon). Is Irena real and is she somehow trying to enact revenge on Oliver and Alice from the afterlife?
Directed by Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch, The Curse of the Cat People is the “sequel” to the popular film Cat People. The movie was relatively low budget and used the sets of Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons for the film.
The movie really isn’t much a sequel to Cat People, but it is a completely different film. The producers wanted to bank on the popularity of Cat People by tying in the unrelated story. There are no Cat People (much like there is no Fly in The Curse of the Fly), but Simone Simon reprises her role as Irena…just not a catty, evil Irena. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph both return but there isn’t really any mention of the events of the past (other than Kent’s previous marriage to Irena and problems).
The movie is mostly a childhood drama with an almost fairy tale feel. Amy is isolated and keeps retreating into a fairy tale world. Irena’s appearance is most likely in Amy’s mind, but like something like Pan’s Labyrinth, it could be true. Amy has her invisible friend take the form of Irena before she sees Irena. It is less likely here that the ghost of Irena is real in scenes like the end where Irena shows up to “help” Amy.
The Curse of the Cat People does look great. Wise showed early skill with this movie and gave it a real feel. I have to say that both Cat People and The Curse of the Cat People are one of the best looking low budget “horror” films of this period. The movie is shot in a way that gives a really ethereal look to fit with the story.
The Curse of the Cat People is a really bizarre film. It isn’t necessarily a horror film, a suspense film, or a drama. Despite not having a set genre, the movie works and has a unique feel. This movie ended the Cat People franchise but the original Cat People film was remade in 1982.
Cat People (1942)