Wednesday 9 June 2010

Soundtrack Retrospective: "Every time it happens... you tell yourself it's love. But it isn't. It's blood. And death."

This month’s film is Paul Schrader’s remake of ‘Cat People’ (1982).

The original 1942 film, as can be seen from the trailer, was one of Val Lewton’s masterpieces, full of implied threat and menacing shadows:

However, that wasn’t going to fly for Paul Schrader in the 80s, oh, dear me no! The action moves to sultry New Orleans and the legend gets an overhauling too. Now a mere kiss isn’t going to transform Nastassja Kinski’s anti-heroine, and what better to include than incest, the game the whole family can play, as a potential get-out clause and source of further angst and motivation? Thus the introduction of Irina’s brother, played with perfectly-pitched lecherous pathos by Malcolm McDowell.

Plus there’s the addition of better special effects (though the scenes where a dyed-black puma has been substituted for the less-manageable and far more dangerous trained leopard still jar even today) and buckets of gore.

The trailer is a pretty stunning contrast as a result:

It’s Giorgio Moroder’s moody and seductive theme music, however, that helps this uneven film hold together. And the David Bowie title track is, you should pardon the pun, an absolute killer...

Dream sequence:

Title track by Bowie:


Macheath said...

It was the only time I have left a cinema exclaiming 'I must have the soundtrack!'

The film itself remains memorable for a late-night film soc screening with a projectionist who was clearly feeling no pain - the reels appeared in the wrong order, the sound was out of synch and about two thirds of the way through he fell off his stool and subsided into a snoring heap.

MTG said...

Powerful artistry and the original is also a corker.

JuliaM said...

"It was the only time I have left a cinema exclaiming 'I must have the soundtrack!'"

Me too! Well, not the only time..

Ahh, remember when people ran cinema projectors, instead of machines..? ;)

"Powerful artistry and the original is also a corker."

They are so very different, but each, in its way, equally as superb.

Robert said...

The Bowie/Moroder song also appears in Tarantino's last film Inglourious Basterds (don't know if I've got the spelling right).