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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cat People [Blu-ray]

 

(Paul Schrader, 1982)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:58:09.123

Disc Size: 45,302,053,010 bytes

Feature Size: 33,529,608,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 21st, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• 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 (5:33)
Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
Photo Gallery
TV Spot (:31)

Production Stills and Posters

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

 

 

The Film:

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 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) more notable on the HD but it also seems far less prominent.  Colors and contrast are strong - showing excellent detail in close-ups and some occasional depth. The many dark sequences exhibit no noise. This Blu-ray looks pretty good... a few, unfortunate, artifacts but easily the best digital version to-date.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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 growls exhibiting dominant bass and a tight high end via David Bowie. The more modern Cat People deserves a 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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There is something about Schrader's version of Cat People that makes it extremely memorable... beyond the sexual aspects. Despite knowing each scene fairly well - it still offers a haunting quality - similar to the Tourneur original. Anyway, I appreciated the improved video and , especially, audio on the new Shout! Factory Blu-ray in my opinion. Ditto for the interesting, new, interviews included.  I find this s very re-watchable film and endorse a purchase for fans of the performers (I've always been partial to Annette O'Toole) and the genre. Sure - recommended!

Gary Tooze

January 14th, 2014


 

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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