Sunday, October 03, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 3 - Movie 1

Jacques Tourneur is a master of psychological horror as evidenced by Night of the Demon (1957) and Cat People (1942) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943) both of which he made with producer Val Lewton. The Leopard Man (1943), their final film together is another exceptional film of this type.

A publicity stunt involving a trained leopard on a leash goes wrong and the leopard escapes and a series of horrible deaths begin. While the police search for the missing cat, the man responsible for the failed stunt begins to believe that it wasn't the leopard, but a man behind the brutal slayings.

This movie is an excellent example of the talents of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur. In other hands this would have been a forgettable poverty row murder mystery, but in their hands it is a suspenseful movie with some well crafted scares, and one scene in particular that reigns at the top of the most chilling and suspenseful scenes in any movie which begins with a mother sending her daughter out to by some corn meal. As with their other films, The Leopard Man is a case of suggestion vs showing, but by leaving so much of the error in the minds of the viewer they've crafted a much more effective movie.


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