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Cat People (1942) – Episode 37 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“They torment me. I wake in the night and the trail of their feet whispers in my brain. I have no peace. For they are in me.” Irena Dubrovna apparently has an icky feeling inside? Join Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Whitney Modesta Collazo as they come on little cat feet and sit looking over Cat People on silent haunches. Wait. Does that sound familiar? Anyway, listen to the Grue Crew scratch below the surface of this unmitigated classic!

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 37 – Cat People (1942)

Cat People is the first film in RKO’s plan to release low budget horror films intended to compete with Universal’s output. The studio handed their new effort to first time producer Val Lewton, who had been recommended by David O. Selznick. Lewton enlisted first time screenwriter DeWitt Bodean to write the script and then surrounded himself with an excellent crew led by director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca.

Cast as Irena Dubrovna, the film’s central character, Simone Simon’s mysterious and exotic look was key to the success of Cat PeopleKent Smith took the role of her soon-to-be husband, Oliver Reed, with Jane Randolphrounding out the love triangle as Alice Moore, ostensibly Reed’s work colleague. The four main characters are rounded out by Tom Conway as Dr. Judd, a psychiatrist brought in to treat Irena’s obsession with the legend of her family’s curse and her accompnaying fears of intimacy. An able supporting cast, led by Alan Napier as another of Reed’s work colleagues and Jack Holt as Reed’s boss, make solid contributions to the feel and atmosphere of Cat People.

This episode’s Grue Crew all marvel at Tourneur’s and Musuraca’s use of shadows and fog to foster the eerie atmosphere present throughout Cat People and how truly terrifying the film is despite most of the action being hidden in shadows and not explicitly shown. Whitney is impressed by the stress and vulnerability she felt during the swimming pool scene and points out the impact the set design has on creating the film’s mood. Chad emphasizes the sophistication of the film, its tight script, and the existence of the storytelling technique known as the “Lewton Bus.” He also points out three – count ‘em, three – more connections to the Batman TV series. We learn of Joseph’s unrequited love for Jane Randolph (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948). Jeff and Joseph remark on some of the similarities that Cat People has with film noir and Jeff gets lost in the supporting cast. Of course he did. Needless to say, they all pronounce Cat People to be a must see film!

We plan to release a new episode every other week. On the next episode in our very flexible schedule, we ‘ll be covering Die, Monster, Die! (1965), the film that tied for first place in our latest Patreon Poll.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon, 1957) – Episode 28 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Please don’t treat me like a mental patient who has to be humored. I also majored in psychology.”  As a horror fan, how many times have you said those very same words? It gets old, doesn’t it? Erin Miskell is still on sabbatical binging on pizza with pineapple, but you can join guest host Jerry Chandler and the rest of your regular Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they attempt to hide behind a facade of sanity while, a little too gleefully, discussing one of Jacques Tourneur’s masterpieces, Night of the Demon (1957). Or is it Curse of the Demon? It’s hard to remember while faking sanity. We owe this selection to our faithful Patreon listeners who chose this film from a poll of six classic era titles.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 28 – Night of the Demon (1957)

Directed by Jacques Tourneur. That statement, alone, should be enough to interest viewers in Night of the Demon. Written by Charles Bennett. That, too, should be enough for fans of early Hitchcock to perk up and take notice. Adapted from the M. R. James story, “Casting the Runes.” Now the interest of 20th century ghost story fans is peaked.

Night of the Demon tells the story of Professor John Holden (Dana Andrews), a hardline skeptic of the occult, as he does battle with the evil Doctor Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), the leader of a cult of Satan worshippers. Holden is joined in his fight by Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), whose father was murdered as the result of a Karswell curse. The intrepid professor is also aided by Karswell’s mother (Athene Seyler) and fellow professional Mark O’Brien (Liam Redmond).

This episode’s Grue Crew universally loves Night of the Demon. They discuss the difference between the 95-minute U.K. version and the shortened 82-minute U.S. version, retitled Curse of the Demon, and which one they prefer. Hal E. Chester’s heavy-handed approach as a producer and its effect on Night of the Demon are also topics fcovered. You will also discover where each of them stand in the more demon vs. less demon debate. Which side are you on?

A bundle of listener feedback is also read this episode. A hearty handclasp and your loyal Grue Crew’s love go out to Symon O’Hagan, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, Aaron Albrecht, Rafael Fernandez, Leontyne Jacquart, and saltyessentials for your feedback and your time!

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Night of the Eagle, (1962), aka Burn, Witch, Burn, selected by our very own Joseph Perry.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!