Natassia Kinski plays a young woman who reunites with her long lost brother in New Orleans. She falls in love with the curator at a local zoo. She slowly begins to realise that she and her brother are shapeshifters who turn into panthers when sexually aroused.
5 things to love:
1. The score by Giorgio Moroder score is a synth masterpiece. Just listen to the “Leopard Tree Dream” or the title song “Putting Out Fire that he wrote with David Bowie.
2. The tone of the film is fantastic. I mean it’s a deeply, deeply silly concept but writer/director Paul Schrader takes it utterly seriously and the whole thing feels like some half remembered dream.
3. The performances are all great and contrast really well. Malcolm McDowell could play crazy in his sleep. John Heard (best known as the dad in Home Alone) meanwhile gives a super intense performance reminiscent of William Peterson.
4. Though there’s no huge set pieces, the swimming pool sequence stands out as a super tense scene (it’s borrowed from the original 1942 film). Annette O’Toole strips off and dives into a swimming pool when she thinks she hears a panther. The lights go out and she’s left treading water in the middle of the pool, too scared to get out.
5. The transformation sequences are bizarre and totally unique. Most of it occurs off screen but once or twice you get glimpses and rather than it being the cat people morphing into panthers, instead panthers burst out of them leaving behind an outer shell of human skin!
1 thing it did need:
A better ending. Don’t get me wrong the ending is has is okay but I was hoping for something a bit more climatic and shocking.