|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Cat People [Blu-ray]
(Paul Schrader, 1982)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures
Video: Shout! Factory / Elephant Films
Region: 'A' / Region FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:58:09.123 / 1:58:08.305
Disc Size: 45,302,053,010 bytes/ 23,957,006,635 bytes
Feature Size: 33,529,608,192 bytes / 19,478,550,528 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps / 15.00 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 13
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: January 21st, 2014 / June 1st, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3634 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3634 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2067 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2067 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3045 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 3045 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz /
1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -4dB
• New interviews with writer/director Paul Schrader (9:13), Nastassja Kinski
(5:57), Malcolm McDowell (7:35), John Heard (6:12), Annette
O’Toole (8:25), Lynn Lowry (5:53) and composer Giorgio Moroder
• Production Stills and Posters
• Audio commentary by Paul Schrader (optional French subtitles)
"Sound And Vision - Part 1": David
Bowie by Christophe Conte, journalist with the 'Les
Inrockuptibles' (8:45 - French, no subtitles)
• Photo gallery (0:56)
DVD and Booklet (in French)
Description: In this loose adaptation of the 1942 horror classic of the same name, a 2001-style opening montage establishes some sort of sacrificial, mystical union between panthers and an ancient tribe of humans. Flash forward to 1980's New Orleans, where waifish Irina (Natassja Kinski) meets her older brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell), a minister, for the first time since their animal trainer parents died and she was sent to a series of foster homes. Paul's Creole housekeeper, Female (Ruby Dee), helps Irina settle into her brother's home, but Paul himself disappears. Cut to a fleabag motel where a blasť prostitute finds an angry panther instead of a client; after mauling her, the cat is captured by police and a team of zoologists: Oliver (John Heard), Alice (Annette O'Toole), and Joe (Ed Begley Jr.). The next day Irina finds herself in the zoo where these scientists work; drawn to the newly captured panther, she befriends Oliver and takes a job in the gift shop. Shortly after the panther's violence turns deadly, it escapes, and soon Paul turns up spouting an unbelievable story about his family's were-cat heritage and his inevitable sexual union with little Irina. On the run from her dangerous brother, Irina takes refuge in a sexually frustrated romance with Oliver, afraid of what might happen if she consummates their passion. Astute viewers will notice that the zoologist characters refer to the film's panthers as leopards; "panther" is actually a generic term for any large cat, especially a black one, but Cat People's panthers are in fact leopards whose black color comes from a recessive trait known as melanism.
Beauty is the beast in Schrader's erotic update of RKO's 1942 horror classic. Kinski's ambivalently bewildered Irena, subject to feline metamorphosis when aroused, is the deadly composite of sex-kitten and femme fatale: the virgin who literally develops claws (and more) in bed. Caught between her similarly cursed brother's pleas for incest, and her zoo-keeper boy-friend's ostensibly more natural desires, she's ironically caged as much by current notions of psycho-sexual 'liberation' as by the bars which await her. The seductively exotic surface of this mythically underpinned fantasy might be offset for some by much graphic gore, but if you can buy the romantic metaphors for the primitivisms of sexual obsession, the film delivers down the line.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
"Cat People" moves back and forth between its mythic and realistic levels, held together primarily by the strength of Kinski's performance and John Heard's obsession. Kinski is something. She never overacts in this movie, never steps wrong, never seems ridiculous; she just steps onscreen and convincingly underplays a leopard. Heard also is good. He never seems in the grip of an ordinary sexual passion, but possesses one of those obsessions men are willing (and often are called upon) to die for. "Cat People" is a good movie in an old tradition, a fantasy-horror film that takes itself just seriously enough to work, has just enough fun to be entertaining, contains elements of intrinsic fascination in its magnificent black leopards, and ends in one way just when we were afraid it was going to end in another.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Cat People finally comes to Blu-ray as possibly the last of the Universal HD-DVD titles to advance to Blu. We can verify that this is a more robust transfer as well as using the AVC encode (where the HD-DVD used VC-1). Shout! Factory have transferred this to a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. It still exhibits edge-enhancement (see John Heard capture firing gun and Kinski's legs with the blood on the floor) and fans who are sensitive won't appreciate it. Colors and contrast are strong - showing excellent detail in close-ups and some occasional depth but the image seems too glossy and faces can be waxy - this has had too much digitization. This Blu-ray image underwhelms.
While the single-layered Elephant Films Blu-ray has 1/2 the bitrate of the Shout! Factory - the story doesn't end there. The French image is imperfect but it doesn't exhibit the same digitization found on the US transfer. The Elephant Films image is brighter (which is probably less authentic), and it shows more grain, and personally, I prefer it. Edge-enhancement is something that you can't 'unlearn' once you've noticed it. Some refer to it as 'over-sharpening'. I found the Shout! Factory visuals - notable in facial close-ups - to have a waxy, soft, look beside the French 1080P. The 1.85:1 framing compares exactly. As stated - it is less than perfect though with some compression and noise issues but I found them relatively inconsequential as compared to the more egregious EE of the US edition.
NOTE: Most of the below capture are exact frame matches and you can toggle between the larger, linked, images to see the disparity - or, better yet, download and zoom-in.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Edge Enhancement Halos on the Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Two audio choices but I stuck with the DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a resounding 3634 kbps. There are plenty of impacting effect sounds from the anticipated cat growlsexhibiting dominant bass and a tight high end via David Bowie's Putting Out the Fire theme. The more modern Cat People deserves the modern score from Giorgio Moroder (Top Gun, Midnight Express, Scarface etc. etc.) that works very well accentuating the suspense - definitely benefitting from the lossless transfer. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
My ears can't detect a difference - same DTS-HD Master tracks in surround and stereo (24-bit), but there is a French DUB included and only, fully optional, French subtitles (sample above). The Elephant Films Blu-ray is Region FREE - playable worldwide.
Cool! About 45-minutes worth of new interviews with many of the cast, director and Moroder - all talking about the film, their memories, how they got involved in the project etc. Plus it is interesting to see how they look now - some 32-years later. We see pieces with writer/director Paul Schrader, Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Annette O’Toole, Lynn Lowry and composer Giorgio Moroder. There is also, older material - a trailer, photo gallery, TV Spots etc.
Elephant Films have the same 7 interviews with Schrader, Kinski, Annette O'Toole, John Heard, Malcolm McDowell, Lynn Lowry, and Giorgio Moroder, (with optional French subtitles) as well as a photo gallery and trailer. But they add quite a bit more. Included is the, older, audio commentary with Paul Schrader (optional French subtitles) and it's an excellent one with deep examinations on his own process how he was able to make a "horror with more skin than blood" and he covers much of the production, the mythology involved etc. Exceptional. There is also Laurent Bouzereau's 2002, 25-minute, 'Cat People: An Intimate Portrait by Paul Schrader' in discussion with the man and a separate, older, 10-minute, interview with the director/writer. There is also a "Sound And Vision - Part 1" piece on Bowie that is not English-friendly. The package contains a second disc DVD and a booklet (in French).
Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Elephant Films - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray
I think this is an easy decision. The Shout! Factory will be serviceable for some, but the Elephant Films provides the superior presentation - especially for those sensitive to digitization - and more extras including a highly valuable commentary. The film continues to improve with age. I really loved watching, and going through the supplements of this package. Yes, recommended!
NOTEThere is also an older (2013) German release, HERE, that is reported to be of poor quality.
January 14th, 2014
September 4th, 2017
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS