Since usually my family is hogging the DVD player, I don't get to much of a chance to watch films, that are of the 'horror' genre. My wife in particular, hates these kind of films (some nonsense about "having bad dreams"). Well, the other night the wifey was out for the evening and the little one was safely tucked into bed. It was a perfect time to become a couch potato with a great, creepy DVD double feature of Val Lewton's "Cat People" and its' sequel, "The Curse of the Cat People". For those who don't know their film history, Lewton was the legendary Producer of a series of classic, low budget, horror/supernatural flicks for RKO Pictures in the 1940's. Because of their small budgets, these films depended more on good writing and haunting atmospherics, rather then the usual corny, special effects to scare audiences. Lewton's movies might have at the time been considered "B-films", but they were extremely well made and most effective. The first film is the classic "Cat People". In the film, Ollie Reed (Kent Smith) meets Serbian born, Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) at the panther cage of the local city zoo. She is a beautiful, yet lonely woman. The two become a couple and very soon are married. But their happiness is short lived. Irena seems obsessed with folk stories from her Serbian village's past about a race of evil people, who can change into cats. At first Ollie just laughs these obsessions off as a joke. But soon he realizes something is seriously wrong, when his new wife refuses to consummate their marriage out of fear, that her erotic passions will turn her into one of these feline creatures and kill him. Things become even more dangerous, when Ollie seeks emotional comfort from female co-worker, Alice Moore (Jane Randolph). The two soon realize they are being stalked by something. Is it a jealous Irena? A cat creature or just their imagination? The scariest thing about this movie is what you don't see. You hear strange cat-like sounds. You do see mysterious shadows. But you never really see the creature that is stalking these characters. Lewton and the film's Director, Jacques Tourneur make sure, that the viewers use their own imaginations, when it comes to the big moments of this film. The script (by DeWitt Bodean with Lewton's big imprint) is well written and emphasizes both human psychology and eroticism. It's pretty rare to find a film from the 'Hayes Office' movie era, that so frankly (and erotically) points out the sexual component of marriage. The cast to this film is fantastic. The beautiful actress, Simone Simon exudes a troubling sensuality, that just makes the title role. You don't know if she really is a 'Cat Person' or just plain nuts (or both)! Kudos should also go to fine performances from Jane Randolph as Ollie's romantic co-worker and Tom Conway as a 'wolfish' psychiatrist, who attempts to help Irena. Look out for a great cameo by a Elizabeth Russell, who plays a mysterious woman, cat-like in appearance, who twice, erotically whispers the word, "sister" to Irena at her small wedding party. What a movie! The sequel, "The Curse of the Cat People" is hardly a horror film, rather it is a film about human psychology with traces of what might be the supernatural. In the film, Ollie & Alice are now married and have a pretty, 6 year old girl named Amy (Ann Carter). Amy is a lonely child, who dosn't seem to fit in with other kids. She recieves a 'wishing ring' from a somewhat looney, old neighborhood woman (Julia Dean). Amy's wish is for a "Special Friend". The "Special Friend" comes to her in the form of the now deceased, Irena. She angelically befriends Amy to compensate the child's lonliness. The film looks at the power of the human mind. Is this really Irena? Or is it just the imagination of a little girl? Can the psychological hold that Irena's memory (or spirit) have on this family finally be broken? This is a very different type of film from it's predecessor, though it still works with the same psychological themes.I don't think the film has the same level of tension or suspense, but it is still a very interesting story. The script is well written and again the same actors give solid performances. Juvenile actress Ann Carter does a good job in the lead role as the troubled, lonely daughter. This DVD contains both films on one disc. Extras include the original trailers and excellent commentary tracks from film historian, Greg Mank. His commentaries include both the history of the productions and a well thought out analysis of both film's themes. For a night of classic horror and psychological supense, I would highly recommend "Cat People" and "The Curse of the Cat People".