Cat Girl (1957)

Genres - Crime, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 69 min.  |   Countries - UK, USA  |  
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This not-so-subtle variation on Val Lewton's classic Cat People (1942) is enlivened by the presence of exotic Barbara Shelley -- who would later grace many Hammer Studios productions (most notably Terence Fisher's Dracula -- Prince of Darkness) with her feline beauty. Shelley plays Leonora, a woman who believes she has inherited a curse which will transform her spirit into the body of a ferocious, man-eating leopard. Though her disbelieving psychiatrist (Robert Ayres) tries to persuade her that this belief is merely a by-product of her rage toward her unfaithful husband, the vengeful "phantom" cat she releases from her subconscious triggers the curse and spells doom not only for those who betrayed her, but perhaps for Leonora's own soul as well. Despite a superb performance by the smoldering Shelley and noir-ish direction from Alfred Shaughnessy (though nothing to compete with that of Jacques Tourneur), it's hard to overlook the obvious parallels to Lewton's film, which outclasses it in nearly every respect and makes the entire effort seem unnecessary. Produced by British Lion, this film was later distributed in the United States by the ubiquitous American International Pictures, sometimes under the title Cat Woman.

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Keywords

leopard, animal-attack, curse, man-eater, murder, psychiatrist, psychic, revenge, soul, supernatural-forces, family, possession, transformation