View Full Version : "The Wolf Man" vs "Cat People"

02-09-2003, 02:46 AM
Last week I watched "The Wolf Man" for the first time. I was a little disappointed by this Universal movie that skips on the "horror" scenes and instead concentrates on Larry Talbot's internal struggle. I personally found it a little tedious and had very little sympathy for the main character. Plus the film lacked some of the atmosphere of the earlier Universal "classics".

I am unsure why "Wolf Man" is regarded as the ultimate werewolf movie. Maybe it just wins by default of being the first.

Also, while watching, I was struck by the similarities to "Cat People" that was made a year later and mention of this is made in the commentary track. "Cat People" also has a main character coming to terms with her true nature as a shapeshifter and ulimately reaching a tragic end. Yet "Cat People" is a much better film because it's more involving, we feel more sympathy for Irena and the film has some marvellous individual scenes. "Wolf Man" seems a little juvenile and lightweight in comparison.

02-09-2003, 03:21 AM
Well, I always thought Simone Simon was much hotter than Lon Chaney Jr., for one thing. ;)

Actually, I think Wolf Man is a great flick. Maybe it does dwell too much on the internal struggle angle, the drama, but for the most part, I think it works. It may not be the ultimate werewolf movie (do a search, I believe we had a thread were, ahem, where people chose their favorites), but it certainly was the groundbreaker. I personally love American Werewolf In London best. That movie just fuckin' rocks.

Speaking of Cat People though, seriously, that Simone is one hot bitch - er, cat I guess it should be - and that's one movie that needs to be out on dvd already, dammit.

02-09-2003, 07:37 AM
I can write pages on why I think "Cat People " is great and the same goes for "The Wolf Man." Both are very different films. Actually "Cat People" was trying to capitalize on "The Wolf Man's" success with its beastly transformations. But Tourneur wanted to focus on the unseen and shadowy instead of on the very visible monstrosities and portents of Universal.

"Cat People" is a much better film, hands down. But "The Wolf Man" has so much atmosphere - it's dripping with atmosphere - actually that's what I like about it. And the great performance by Maria Ouspenskaya! And that great dialogue... No-one writes dialogue like that anymore.

MH - You are right on about wanting "Cat People" on dvd. Actually, I love all three Tourneur/Lewton films, especially "I Walked with a Zombie" (1943), which is probably the most understated, yet visually loaded, horror film ever made. The film is structured like a poem: lyrical and dreamlike in its atmosphere, visually oblique and ambiguous, and deliberately suggestive rather than straightforward in its depiction of events. Great!

"The Wolf Man" and "IWZ" were both written by Curt Siodmak, a Jew who fled Nazi Germany. These films reflect the experience of being dispossessed and hunted. Siodmak was sensitive to the plight of human suffering. I think that's why there is a focus on John Talbot's existential dilemmas.

Anyway, it's time for an all-region dvd player for me, because I'm going to Paris at the end of the month to visit my partner, and I asked her to buy all three for me - including "The Leopard Man," which is also a wonderful early serial killer film. I'm a happy man.

ps: Great thread by the way!

02-09-2003, 07:15 PM
I too am a great Tourneur fan and can watch his three Lewton films over and over. There is so much craft in these movies. Lewton and Tourneur obviously planned and filmed the special atmospheric scenes very carefully and they manage to be both poetic and frightening. I would say "Cat People" is my favorite just because it has a more coherent theme and is more moving. "Leopard Man" is a very interesting film - some of its scenes are among the best in the Lewton series but the pacing of the film is wrong and the mystery is never given its due.

I'll give "the Wolf man" another try. Maybe I went in with wrong expectations.

02-10-2003, 11:43 PM
I think the Wolf Man is great. One of my top favs I must say. Chaney Jr. IS the Wolf Man/Larry T. He pulls it off great! :) See this one again and maybe you'll like it the 2nd time round.

02-11-2003, 01:25 AM
The Wolf Man was alright, but certainly not my favorite. Cat People on the other hand was great!

02-11-2003, 09:42 AM
The Wolf Man is really the ORIGINAL mass mdeia view of the creature - and therefore retains a place in my heart. I enjoy American Werewolf and all, but it does not have the atmosphere of Universal monsters. Sure, it lcks some of the blatant violence and cool tranformation scenes - but heck, it's an old film!

I hear the 1 in 50 million people prefer the Kinski Cat People. I'm that 1. :)