Filled with “wonderful atmosphere [and] fine, moody fantasy” (Leonard Maltin), this continuation of 1942’s Cat People follows Oliver Reed (Kent Smith), now remarried, living in idyllic Tarrytown, New York, and the father of six-year-old Amy. When Amy becomes withdrawn and speaks of consorting with a new “friend,” Oliver worries that she may be under the influence of the spirit of his first wife. Is it just Amy’s imagination that has manifested the enigmatic Irena (Simone Simon), who long believed herself to be descended from a race of Cat People?
Directors Gunther V. Fritsch and Robert Wise (making his directorial debut), co-helmed a gothic-laced mix of fantasy and fright so astute it was used in college psychology classes. And producer Val Lewton, given small budgets and lurid, pre-tested film titles by RKO, worked with rising filmmakers to emphasize the fear of the unseen, and turn meager resources into momentous works of psychological terror.
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