When: Fri., March 4, 7 p.m. 2011
Enjoy classic pairings of great directors and producers of low-budget horror with this Retrofantasma Classic. First up is the longtime horror favorite Cat People, from 1942. Produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur, it's the tale of Irena (Simone Simon), who believes a family curse will cause her to turn into a panther if she succumbs to passion—something that makes her relationship with her husband a bit complicated, particularly when another woman and some mysterious murders enter the picture. Filmed in less than three weeks using sets from other RKO productions (the stairs were from The Magnificent Ambersons), Cat People is the definition of "less is more," showing how terrifying a film can be when you don't see the monster, the transformation, etc. Ignore Paul Schrader's 1982 remake at all costs, but do check out the equally fascinating "sequel," 1944's The Curse of the Cat People.
In another pairing of power producer and director, there's Francis Ford Coppola's first film, 1963's Dementia 13, in which producer Roger Corman gave Coppola his first writing-directing gig (though Monte Hellman directed an additional pre-film sequence with a shrink helping determine if the audience was sane enough to sit through the flick, and Jack Hill added a decapitation bit). The film doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, but there's some moody photography and a heap of good axe-wielding violence. —Zack Smith