Always the Family Curse – The Cat Girl (1957)

The Cat Girl is a fun little horror film; moody, atmospheric and suspenseful.  It manages to do quite a bit with its little budget as many B films are wont to do, though you could also say that many do not.  There are many movies out there that have wasted their potential, yet thankfully, this one has not.  A lot of this can be attributed to Lou Rusoff who wrote the film, though many will see shades of Universal’s Cat People throughout, it manages to differentiate itself enough to be its own entity, though not quite as good as that aforementioned film.

CatGirl38Young Leonora is called home one day, a place she never really wanted to ever go back to, but go she does and once there, after a few niceties, she is told that she will inherit the family curse.  Of course, who would ever believe such a thing?  Becoming one with a cat?  Hunting to satiate your bloodlust?  It sounds preposterous, but when things start happening, Leonora comes to believe it is real even though others do not.

CatGirl18Aside from the script, it would be up to director Alfred Shaughnessy and the cast to really push the material through.  Starring Barbara Shelley as the eponymous Cat Girl, and the same Barbara Shelley that would go on to star in various Hammer pictures among other things, her performance would be one of the few things to make this movie better than it would have been.  Being as early in her career as it was, Shelley would not be as accomplished as she would be ten years later, but she still gave it a go and was better than at least half of the cast that was present.  Robert Ayres would star alongside Shelley as a psychiatrist and if you closed your eyes or left the room for a minute while watching this, you might swear that it was van Johnson on screen as their voices are very similar.  Ayres by this point in time was by no means an amateur, but for some reason, his performance just seemed very ham-fisted, like a bull in a china shop as they say.  There was no subtlety or nuance to his role or his lines, almost like he was simply there for the paycheck which could very well have been the case.  As it is, the producers could have gone with someone a little better or at least someone who could have gelled with Shelley more than what ended up in this finished product.

The Cat Girl could have been better, a lot.  Thankfully it made do and was not a complete waste of time as it does manage to hold your interest and feature some good actors and a decent story.  There is some tension present and it helps to accentuate the horror of the film and even though it might not be all that scary or frightening, the movie does receive points for trying and at least partially succeeding.

2 out of 5

4 replies »

  1. You have an ability to make low-scoring movies sound decent and still worth the time. With that said, I still have to get around to seeing Cat People (Scream Factory release of the remake) and that will probably be my own exposure to the dangerous world of cats!

    Liked by 1 person

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