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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Val Lewton Horror Collection, 25 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Val Lewton Horror Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)

"Cat People"

What you can't see "will" hurt you

A man marries a strange woman with a European accent. She seems shy, but she actually carries a secret. Seems she knows she came from a line of "Cat People" and passion can bring out her claws. This is reinforced in a scene at a restaurant where another one of her kind recognizes her. She also suspects her new hubby's female friend has designs on him. So we get a spooky scene at a swimming pool at night alone in the gym.

There was not enough money or sufficient technology to show scary cat people. They tried people in cat suits, but they just looked cutesy. So they decided to just show shadows and sounds. The rest was up to your imagination. It is a psychological movie with a touch of film noir. ---------------------------------------------

"The Curse of the Cat People"

In many ways superior to the original

The Curse of the Cat People (1944) is not really sequel to Cat People (1942) as much as a stand alone physiological thriller that just happens to be an extension of the original characters. We have seen the formula before but you may not have seen such a presentation; a lonely child Amy Reed (Ann Carter) seeks a playmate that understands her. Who best but the spirit of Oliver's dead wife, Irena (Simone Simon) one of the cat people. Naturally this upsets the parents. Toss in Amy's new relation to reclusive neighbor Julia Farren (Julia Dean). Julia has problems of her own relating to her daughter. The story just gets complex from there.

The question is, is it dangerous to fantasize that much and what will become of the characters in the end.


"I Walked with a Zombie"

A classic Val Lewton production

We are treated to exotic titles and expectations with titles such as "I walked With a Zombie." My only encounters with Zombies are those that process in an UNIX operating system that can not be killed. I also watched "Weekend at Bernie's II."

As with other Lewton productions he got a way with a psychological thriller in the guise of a monster movie. In the days of sailing ships a nurse (Frances Dee) is employed to go to San Sebastian to look after a plantation owner's wife (Christine Gordon.) She fined that her charge is more than just a victim of a disease that heft her without will. Turns out if you cut the wife she does not bleed. We all know what that means.

The true story is the relationship to man and wife, man and nurse, nurse and wife, brother and brother, brother and wife, need I say more? Could it mean that there is nothing supernatural or is love moving in mysterious natural.

Can this all be straightened out or is Jessica Holland the wife destined to be zomiated for ever and the nurse must learn to love from afar?

Yeah Lord pity them who are dead and give peace and happiness to the living.


"The Body Snatcher"

Based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson

"It is through error that a man tries and rises. It is through tragedy he learns. All the roads of learning begin in darkness and go out into the light." Hippocrates of Gos

This film has the psychological complexity of a Val Lewton production but is a lot more graphic than most of his productions where he just implies violence. He even takes it out on innocent dogs. I feel that some one was pushing Lewton from behind to be more vicious with this film.

A young student (Russell Wade) wants to become a doctor like the great Dr. Wolfe 'Toddy' MacFarlane (Henry Daniell.) Little does he know what it will entail?

The DVD has a voiceover commentary from the late Director Robert Wise who directed "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music." Surprisingly he said that the original basic script was written by Philip MacDonald.


"Isle of the Dead"

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE / Hamlet Act 1. Scene V abt. 1601

`Under conquest and oppression the people of Greece allowed their legends to degenerate into superstition; the Goddess Aphrodite giving way to the `Vorvolaka.' This nightmare figure was very much alive in the mines of the peasants when Greece fought the victorious war of 1912."

Gen. Nikolas Pherides (Boris Karloff) is an experienced watcher. That is he must watch over his troops to be sure the do what they are supposed to and survive to win the day.

Finding some time take a war correspondent (Marc Cramer) to visit the grave yard island where his wife is buried. There he meats a strange collection of people and an unseen enemy that is much deadlier than any bullet. Will he be able to fight it logically and scientifically? Or will his cultural fears lead him to see the truth?

Once again we see that Boris Karloff can act and that Val Lewton can take a scary title and turn it from a cheap horror movie into a classic Psychological Thriller.



Story suggested by The William Hogarth painting Bedlam plate 8 "The Rake's Progress

Once again Val Lewton takes what would have been a second rate horror story and turns it into a sit on the edge of your seat psychological thriller. The basic question of the story is the same as the one in his movie "Ghost Ship"; that is, is man fundamentally good and helpful of others or is he so self centered that he will act even to his own ultimate demise? An added element is that of not quite being granted all mental faculties.

The year is 1791 Lord Mortimer (Billy House) is just one of the upper class (Wiggs) that gets his kicks from watching the loonies of Bedlam loon. His protégé (Anna Lee) is discussed at the treatment of the "guests" by the head apothecary, Master George Sims (Boris Karloff who can actually act). She attempts to correct this to the detriment of Lord Mortimer. So Lord Mortimer and Sims invite her as a guest to Bedlam.

Will she ever get out or just go crazy. While there she applies a theory supplied by a Quaker (Richard Fraser), one of the Society of Friends if this works the tables may turn on Sims. What can Sims say in his defense?


"The Leopard Man"

All or our lives are like the ball bouncing at the top of the fountain

Rival entertainers meet in a club in New Mexico Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks) brings in a leopard to upstage Clo-Clo (Margo). But Clo-Clo gets the last laugh when she chases the leopard off with her castanets.

All is fun rivalry until people start dying. Naturally the local authorities think it is the leopard. But Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe) who rented the leopard has a theory that this is the work of a demented person. This theory is sort of supported by Dr. Galbraith (James Bell) the local museum curator. To make matters worse the leopard's owner, Charlie How-Come (Abner Biberman) does not remember where he was at the time.

As with the cat people it is what you don't see that can harm you. And the simile turning of a card can mark you for death.

You may recognize Dynamite the leopard that was also used in the movie "Cat People".

Produced by Val Lewton (7 May 1904, Yalta, Crimea, Russian Empire (now Ukraine) ) whose story telling device is unique in that this is more of a psychological film that does not focus on any one person as they are all pawns in a much larger story. Some time it verges on the surreal.

Now that you have seen the film read the book "Black Alibi" by Cornell Woolrich.


"The Ghost Ship"

A new third mate on his first long sea voyage in introduced to captain and crew. Before he steps on bard he is warned by a blond man. He runs into a mute. And before they even leave port Jensen is found dead, just a heat attack. "With his death the waters of the sea are open to us. But there will be other deaths and the agony of dieing."

Don't go looking for anything supernatural as this is a Val Lewton movie. I would pay close attention to the characters. One of them may be a bit unhinged. The big question in this story is man's nature to help or ignore their fellow man.


"Shadows in the Dark"

This is more of a Val Lewton biography with more emphasis on his producer years.
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