Flesh and Blood: “CAT PEOPLE” (1982)Columns,Fearful Features,Flesh and Blood,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As any fright fan knows, the horror genre has a particularly salacious relationship with sexually explicit content. And while nudity so often goes side by side with decapitated heads and brutal bloodletting, there are also horror filmmakers throughout the years who made an art form out of the human body with an appreciation of our most lurid and lucid desires. And it’s with that macabre mentality in mind that FANGORIA is proud to announce our partnership with Mr. Skin for a brand new NSFW column that looks to provoke our minds as well as our more physical impulses, FLESH AND BLOOD!
As a filmmaker, there’s not many cinephiles who would argue that Paul Schrader is known for subtlety. That said, no one quite expected Schrader’s remake of CAT PEOPLE to be half as salacious and taboo as it would eventually be. And while the film is a mesmerizing, psychosexual horror flick with a fair share of flaws, the one inarguable shining light from the film comes in the impeccable form Natassja Kinski, whose performance in the film is not only one of the sexiest in genre film history, but among one of the most transformative performances of the entire era, period.
When Kinski first hits the screen in CAT PEOPLE, her natural beauty is definitely a sight to behold. But as breathtaking as her looks may be, perhaps one should pay attention to Kinski’s posture and what it says about her character as a whole: physically, Kinski’s first appearance in the film is cautious, inquisitive and vulnerable, making every move with precision. It’s an incredible parallel between the character and her animalistic nature, and is wildly indicative of just how deep into character Kinski would take her performance.
However, in line with that approach, Kinski’s performance becomes less tightly wound but always stays deliberate. Kinski not only embraces her own sexuality and beauty in the role, but grounds herself in her desirability, crafting sexual tension in each scene as if she’s playing a hand of cards. In some scenes, she uses her physicality as a tool of empowerment, refusing to coward away from the gazing eyes of her brother, while other times she uses the same physicality as a tool of her own lust, leading to some of the most erotic and naturalistic seduction scenes in horror. And even more impressive is that Kinski never gives the audience a chance to question her character motivation, either; in the smallest movement or pose, Kinski says more silently without her clothes than most actresses can with a ten-page monologue.
In a movie as sexually charged as CAT PEOPLE, especially one that wears every shocking moment on its sleeve and used real cats for a majority of the stunts, there’s a reason why Kinski’s incredible, sultry performance remains in the memories of so many. While some could dismiss Kinski’s raw sexuality as effortless, the evidence on the screen speaks a much different tale of an actress so committed to a predatory, alluring character put every inch of herself towards her performance. It’s a commendable, astounding feat within the genre, and one that is sure tol hypnotize and allure viewers for generations to come.
For full clips, pictures and more from Paul Schrader’s CAT PEOPLE, visit the Mr. Skin link below and sign up today with an exclusive discounted membership rate for FANGORIA fans only!