Just in time for National Black Cat Day! Tonight let’s take a look at two classic horror movies I’m finally getting around to watching and see how well they hold up.
CAT PEOPLE (1942)
I know this is a classic. I know it’s supposed to be one of the old movies that stands the test of time. What I don’t know is who made that decision, because this movie damn near put me to sleep. I really went into this with high hopes, but this movie was infuriatingly dull.
Let me guide you through a very high level overview of this yawn fest. The lady above is an immigrant, From somewhere Slavic, I want to say. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Anyway, she’s new in town, she doesn’t know anyone, and over the course of an afternoon or possibly several weeks – I found it difficult to tell – she gets to know a man and they grow close. I think. Everything is so stilted because this was made in the 1940s, and god forbid we speak about sex or relationships in any intelligible way.
More stuff happens. Eventually they get engaged. She is afraid to have sex with her fiancé because she might turn into a cat afterward. Not that you can tell that from the dialogue. I had to read that on Wikipedia. What I actually got from the dialogue was a boiling hot case of who gives a shit.
Happy National Black Cat Day!
At some point they go to a restaurant and another foreign lady spends quite some time scolding and/or cursing the female lead. Apparently she knows something. I think they’re both cat people. But I honestly don’t fucking care. So much of this movie is “told” with long looks and completely unbelievable reactions to things that it’s difficult to say what the hell is going on at any given point.
The old angry lady, for example, is clearly upset, and insults our heroine – I think – for what feels like roughly fifteen straight minutes. I mean, it lasts a fucking while. But after the monologue concludes, her fiancé and all their stupid friends just continue talking like nothing ever happened. No questions, not even a “What the hell?” Just right back to it, no need to address what appears to have been a witch with dark secrets laying into their friend. Nothing, unless you count long looks that are clearly supposed to mean something but convey no information at all. I honestly feel like the filmmakers thought these meaningful glances and stares were somehow telling. All they told me was that I should pick a better movie next time.
I’m not sure if this is coming across, but I hated this movie. Fucking HATED it. It was not scary. It was not tense. And it sure as hell wasn’t interesting. I wasn’t joking about it putting me to sleep. I’m still not certain I actually saw the whole thing. I legit may have nodded off, I don’t even know. And I don’t care. This movie gave me a strange type of angry disinterest. It was like being back in college and hearing one too many Dave Matthews Band or fucking Tori Amos songs in a row. The monotony and constant build up to nothing whatsoever just left me with a belly full of righteous fury. And much like listening to Dave Matthews Band, I felt like I was owed an explanation for why these sons of bitches so unapologetically wasted my time.
If I had just a little more energy, I would do a deep dive on every member of the cast and crew of Cat People, as well as the financiers, the ad men, and the artists who painted the movie posters. I just want to know with absolute certainty, for my own grim satisfaction, that they’re all dead. That’s how much I hate this fucking movie. I give Cat People a 2 out of 10. I planned to give it a 3, but writing about it made me angry all over again. Fuck this movie, and fuck everyone who made it.
THE FLY (1958)
After enduring the shit show that was Cat People, I almost called it a day. I didn’t want to repeat that god awful experience. But The Fly turned out to be very surprising, and far more enjoyable than I’d anticipated.
Surprise number one was that it was in color. I would not have guessed that. Initially I intended to praise the restoration team and the skillful way the film was colorized. But as you can see from the movie poster above, it was actually filmed in “Horror-Color.” Unlike many films of its era, The Fly has been kept in incredible condition. I streamed it on HBO Max, and the film is so clean I almost would have imagined this was filmed and immediately scanned to digital archives. The picture doesn’t appear to have degraded at all.
Surprise number two was that Vincent Price wasn’t the bad guy. Or the creepy guy. Or insane. He didn’t get killed or turned into anything. He wasn’t possessed, haunted, or seeking revenge. This was a horror movie in which Vincent Price played the role of an absolutely normal, very moral, utterly stable human being. Vincent Price just plays a person. That must have confused the hell out of him when he read the script.
Surprise number three was that the flawed technology was the same as 1986’s The Fly with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. The scientist was working on a form of teleportation. I was certain that was something they made up to modernize the story for the ’80s, but no. This was high tech sci-fi horror.
Surprise number four was that the effects, while certainly dated, are actually not bad. It was the 1950s after all. They did a hell of a lot with what they had. Judging visuals alone, I have to say this is a pretty good looking movie.
If you are even passingly familiar with The Fly, you will not be surprised at all by the outcome of this film. However, you probably will be surprised by the manner in which the outcome arrives. I knew roughly eighty percent of this story in elementary school, just from hearing adults talk about it, but I didn’t see that particular end coming.
The Fly is dated, no doubt, but truly I have to recommend it as a horror classic. They accomplished quote a lot for 1958. I’m gonna give this a 6 out of 10. It won’t scare you. It won’t shock you. But I think, after all is said and done, it might impress you.