Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Cat Girl

An obscurity made in 1957 by short-lived British production company Insignia Films, The Cat Girl stars the fetchingly prim Barbara Shelley (Dracula Prince of Darkness) in its lead role - this nifty little flick turns out to be almost a sly remake of Jacques Tourneur's much better known forties chiller, The Cat People.  Shelley, her sharp-tongued newly wed husband, and two friends head to a strange mansion after a request from her uncle for her immediate presence.  There she finds that the old man believes himself to be the victim of a curse whereby he virtually enters the body of a leopard each night, sometimes with murderous results.  This curse is said to be passed down to her, much to her alarm, and following one or two deaths she's soon whisked off to a psychiatric hospital so they can attempt to cure the increasingly hysterical woman.  Sort of a film of two halves, where the traditional horror of the first is possibly offset against the then-modern psychological investigative approach of the second.  The mist-bound settings of the mansion are beautifully strong on atmosphere, the script is refreshingly unsympathetic and harsh, while the characters are really a bunch of oddballs in a dream world.  Just as Cat People concluded on an ambiguous note, so does this film, refusing by the conclusion to directly tell the audience whether this was the product of delusion or supernatural occurrence.  I don't believe this has been made available on disc at any point, and was fortunate enough to catch it on a recent satellite broadcast.

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