Classy horror movie from 1942. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, written by DeWitt Bodeen, and produced by Val Lewton. Starred Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, and the lovely Jane Randolph.

The movie is about a woman who might (and the film never lets you know for sure) turn into a savage black panther whenever she gets sexually aroused. Can she fall in love with and marry the man of her dreams without eviscerating him in the night?

Believe it or not, this is a very subtle movie, but it delivers a bunch of genuine scares and creepy, chilling moments. The scenes with Randolph's character being stalked by an unseen menace on a dark, deserted street and in the swimming pool are classics of suspense and fear. The movie almost qualifies as film noir, just for the amount of light-and-shadow contrast used by the filmmakers to boost the suspense. Tourneur and Lewton were big believers in the "less-is-more" school of horror, so you are often left wondering if that shadowy figure in the dark is really what you think it might be. Are the characters just seeing things? Is there really a monster out there? Can our senses be believed?

"Cat People" was followed by a sequel (1944's "Curse of the Cat People," which didn't really have much to do with the original movie other than the same actors and characters) and a remake (1982's mostly pointless "Cat People" with Nastassja Kinski).

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