Producer Milton Subotsky — all hail Amicus! — bought the rights to Cat People from RKO and began developing a remake, with the rights going to Universal eventually. Roger Vadim was going to be the director with Alan Ormsby and Bob Clark — all hail Children Shouldn’t Play With Death Things — working on several versions of the script.
Paul Schrader ended up making this, making a movie that is way more sexual — man, understatement of the year — than the film that inspired it.
Irena (Nastassja Kinski) and Paul (Malcolm McDowell) Gallier have been separated since their parents died. He’s now involved in a church in New Orleans and lives with his housekeeper Female (Ruby Dee), but has gone missing.
Of course, panther attacks start happening — look out Lynn Lowry (I Drink Your Blood, The Crazies) — and zoologists Oliver Yates (John Heard), Alice Perrin (Annette O’Toole) and Joe Creigh (Ed Begley Jr.) are on the case. They capture the panther, who Irena finds herself attracted to. If you think that this is the end of the animal and human sexual attraction in this film, well, stay tuned.
Joe ends up getting mauled by the panther, which disappears just as Paul reappears to make a Flowers In the Attic move on his sister. Oh yeah — that’s when we find out that his basement is filled with the remains of people, so everyone thinks the big cat belongs to him.
Oh man — where do we go now? We find out that in the mythology of this movie, any time one of these catpeople do the horizontal mambo with a human they turn into a cat and can only become human again by killing another person. Mama and papa Gallies were siblings because werecats are ancestrally incestuous and — oh yeah — only aardvarking between two catpeople doesn’t cause a transformation. So Paul tries to get with his sister again, just in time for Oliver to save her and her to shoot her brother.
This movie ends in perhaps the most insane way possible. Irena begs to be with her kind, so Paul ties her up and dips the stinger in the honey, as it were, until she transforms back into a panther, at which point he donates her to the zoo.
Holy cow, movies were absolutely insane in 1982. Wow and the soundtrack! Bowie and Giorgio Moroder? You can not get more absolutely 80’s than that. Oh yeah — and another RKO movie was remade in 1982. The Thing. Both failed at the box office, but only one is remembered quite so fondly.
You can get this on blu ray from Shout! Factory.