Cat People (1942)
Quick Summary: The Forties! When men were men, and women were cursed Serbian cat people who can't walk into pet stores.
This was always one of those classic horror films on my to-do list that I had never managed to make time for and I'm so glad I finally did. The lighting and use of shadows is excellent, I loved the animated cat dream sequence, and there's a reason the famous set-pieces in it have stood the test of time - they're perfectly paced and remain genuinely tense. I also liked how the "monster" of the story was ultimately the protagonist - it seemed like the film had more sympathy for her than it did for the "heroes".
I'd really recommend this episode of the always excellent podcast You Must Remember This about Val Lewton, the director. I listened to it while drawing the illustration above and it's a fascinating look at his life in the studio system, his legacy on cinema in general, and his artistic ambitions with horror. It's definitely encouraged me to seek out the rest of his work at some point - especially with the comparisons to Preston Sturges.
Favourite period dialogue that makes me want to watch films like this all day: "I sure could, but this coffee's been working so long it's got muscles!"
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention - the swimming pool set-piece - I'm sure I'm the very last person to notice this, but it definitely feels like It Follows was referencing this scene for it's final act (which makes me like that film even more).
Lewton Bus count: 1. The actual Lewton Bus!
Tonight: I'm a little fragile today after a friend's birthday party so thought I'd give British found footage film The Borderlands (2013) a try as that looks like it'll be fun.
Check out the archive of the horror month here.