Next up in our mini-series of “80s Halloween Movies the Criterion Channel picked for us,” it’s Paul Schrader’s 1982 “remake,” of sorts, of the 1942 movie of the same name. It’s Cat People!
Orphan Irena (Nastassja Kinski) arrives in New Orleans to be reunited with her long-lost brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell), who is especially affectionate and nuzzly at her arrival. When he disappears for a few days, she finds herself drawn to a black leopard at the zoo. Meanwhile she’s falling in love with zookeeper Oliver (John Heard), who coaxed her out of a tree with some canned tuna or something.
Paul returns and continues to try to have sex with his sister. It turns out they both are descended from cat people. They can have sex with each other without consequences, but if they have sex with a person they turn into cats. The only way to turn back into a human is to kill a human. Paul does a very bad job of explaining this.
Will Irena embrace her cat people roots? Will she never love a human? Or will she give in to her desires and have sex with Oliver to bring out her inner cat? You’ll have to see for yourself. If it helps, there is a kickin’ David Bowie title theme song.