Attack of the Cat People (2021) | Directed by Sarah Stephenson
Black and White | 45 Minutes
Written by Sarah Stephenson | Starring Peter O’Hanlon, Jessica Ham, John Gorman
Taking inspiration from the atomic age of cinema, Attack of the Cat People is a delightful homage to 1940/50s horror schlock. But rather than science run amok, Black Cat Film Productions‘ tale of terror focuses on a natural disaster.
After crashing into the ocean, a meteorite is observed floating on its surface, developing flora and fauna at an accelerated rate. Becoming its own small island of sorts, an expedition to the meteorite is organised by Dr. Elliot (John Gorman), a professor at Washington State University, in order to collect samples and analyse its mysterious inhabitants: cat-like creatures resembling the pre-historic sabertooth tiger.
Leading the expedition alongside Dr. Elliot is Navy Captain “Jack” Baker (Peter O’Hanlon) who, along with environmental scientist (and love interest!) Dr. Lawrence (Jessica Ham), biochemist (and Russian spy!) Dr. Fraser (Wayne Bassett), geologist Dr. Williams (Brad Phillips), and intern Dr. Reeds (Emma Critchell), charter a boat into the unknown! Little do they know that the anthropomorphic felines are territorial…
Influenced by the camp aesthetic of the Universal monster movies – like Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) – Attack of the Cat People’s 45-minute running time is an indie throwback to the golden years of the monochrome fright night; the type of film that wouldn’t look out of place during a broadcast of Elvira’s Movie Macabre or The Vampira Show. Written and directed by Sarah Stephenson (Mia Morris’ Diary), and filmed in Queensland, Australia, you can clearly see that this creature feature was a labor of love.
Just like famed RKO Radio Pictures producer Val Lewton (Cat People), Stephenson slowly builds tension before startling the audience with off-screen terror; the titular cat people lurking in the shadows, waiting patiently for the opportunity to pounce on their prey!
Purrfectly paced to mimic the slow burn of its Universal monster influence, Attack of the Cat People captures the timeless quality of the era. Fantastic costume design, so-bad-its-good special make-up effects, Jacquie Joy’s ominous soundtrack, and intentionally exaggerated acting from a passionate cast elevate this fright flick above most indie horror dreck.
“Can’t you see from the lack of women? They are planning to… breed with us!”
Through genuine admiration and respect for the creature features that came decades before it, Black Cat Film Productions has crafted an entertaining horror tribute worthy of B movie status. So head over to the drive-in double feature and tune into the correct radio frequency for pure popcorn pulp!