Friday, October 14, 2005
Curse of the Cat People
A sequel in name only, Curse of the Cat People takes place 7 years after its predecessor. With the death of his first wife, Irena, Oliver and Alice are now happily married with a 7-year old daughter, Amy. As the film opens we learn that Amy is having some problems both at home and at school due to an overactive imagination and quixotic notions. In one sad scene Amy waits for her classmates to come to her birthday party. When no one shows, we learn that she “mailed” the invitations by putting them in an old oak tree. She believed that the tree was a “magic mailbox”, something her father had told her when she was 3 years old.
Oliver: “I told you that when you were 3.”
Amy: “I know, and I remembered.”
Oliver encourages Amy to make friends but becomes increasingly frustrated when she fails to do so. The other children shy away from her because she is “different” as her schoolteacher calls her. After befriending an eccentric old woman in the neighborhood, she is given a “wishing ring”. Amy, of course, wishes for a friend and soon after she meets Irena, Oliver’s dead wife. Oliver goes ballistic with this turn of events. Not only does May have an imaginary friend, but she claims it’s his crazy, dead, cat woman wife from Cat People! After punishing Amy for making up this “imaginary” friend, Amy runs away at night, into a heavy snowstorm.
I can only imagine that the RKO studio heads were furious when Van Lewton turned in this film. Believing that they were going to be seeing a film about people being hunted by satanic cats, instead they were given this quiet little character study about the dreamy world of childhood. Is Irena real or just the imaginary companion of a lonely little girl? It doesn’t really matter. While an effective film, this is no horror movie. It was fun to view the trailer in order to see how they “sold” the dramatic elements to the audience.