The Cat Creature
The Cat Creature is a 1973 American made-for-television horror film produced by Douglas S. Cramer and directed by Curtis Harrington from a teleplay by Robert Bloch and starring Meredith Baxter, David Hedison and Gale Sondergaard. The film serves as a tribute to the low-budget Val Lewton horror films of the 1940s and also features an appearance by Kent Smith, who starred in Lewton's original classic Cat People (1942) and its sequel The Curse of the Cat People (1944). It originally premiered as the ABC Movie of the Week on December 11, 1973.
|The Cat Creature|
|Written by||Robert Bloch|
|Story by||Robert Bloch |
Douglas S. Cramer
Wilfred Lloyd Baumes
|Directed by||Curtis Harrington|
|Music by||Leonard Rosenman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Producer(s)||Douglas S. Cramer|
|Running time||74 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Douglas S. Cramer Company|
|Distributor||Screen Gems Television|
|Original release||December 11, 1973|
Robert Bloch tells in his autobiography how the film was originally planned as a starring vehicle for Diahann Carroll but that by the time the script was completed and approved, Miss Carroll had fulfilled her contractual obligations with the network and he had to rewrite her role. He also writes of other difficulties with the scripting. After being informed the script ran twelve minutes too long, and Bloch's laboriously editing the screenplay to make it run to time, on a viewing of the rushes it was found the film now ran twelve minutes too short. Most of the sets had already been torn down. Bloch had to work out how to put twelve minutes back into the film so it would go out over the network on the appointed date.
Late one evening, Frank Lucas, a licensed appraiser, goes to the home of a client who has died to finish taking inventory on a collection of ancient artifacts that the man has left behind. He discovers a sarcophagus in the basement that holds a mummy wearing an amulet. The amulet is a solid gold cat's head with emerald eyes. Frank suddenly hears the sound of a cat and is attacked and killed by a feline creature. Joe Sung, an Oriental thief, steals the amulet and tries to pawn it at The Sorcerer's Shop which specializes in the occult, but the proprietress Hester Black throws him out.
Meanwhile, Lt. Marco is investigating the murder of Frank Lucas with the expert advice of Roger Edmonds, a professor who specializes in archeology. The theft of the amulet sets off a murderous chain of events involving Black, Lt. Marco, Edmonds, Sung, a salesgirl named Rena Carter and a black cat with glowing eyes.
John Stanley writes of the film: "Robert Bloch supernatural teleplay with in-jokes about movie cats, but it's pallid stuff. Gale Sondergaard, one time Spider Woman, is a cat goddess claiming victims to possess a golden amulet. Kent Smith, who starred in Lewton's original classic Cat People (1942) and its sequel The Curse of the Cat People (1944), has a cameo. Curtis Harrington needed nine lives to direct David Hedison, Stuart Whitman, Keye Luke, John Carradine; Peter Lorre, Jr. turns up in one scene with a knife in his back. Has the bite of a kitten instead of a jungle marauder."
Michael Weldon calls the film "an "okay attempt to recreate a Val Lewton '40s mood. Gale Sondergaard (who had only appeared in one film since 1949 because of the Communist scare blacklist) is Hester Black, a mysterious shopkeeper. John Carradine, Keye Luke, Kent Smith (Cat People) and John Abbott (The Vampire's Ghost) are all on hand to remind you of the B-movie roots."
- Once Around the Bloch: An Unathorised Autobiography. NY: Tor Books, 1993, pp. 360-63
- . Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Movie Guide. NY: Berkley Boulevard, 2000, p. 82
- The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. NY: Ballantine Books, 1989, p. 109.
- Mad About Mystery: 100 Wonderful Television Mysteries from the Seventies by Nowak, Donna Marie.
- The Cat Creature at WorldCat
- The ABC Movie of the Week: Big Movies for the Small Screen by McKenna, Michael. p.141