Friday, October 15, 2010

“Cat People” - I Can Stare For A Million Years

Last year, I featured a different spooky song each day in October for a feature I called 31 Songs For Halloween. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off anything that ambitious this season, but I would like to bring back some of the profiles for those who might not have seen them the first time around.


Few songs have made a more eerie entrance than “Cat People (Putting Out Fire),” the theme from director Paul Schrader’s 1982 horror film, Cat People. After a slow drum beat and a swirl of synthesizers, David Bowie emerges, singing, “See these eyes so green/I can stare for a thousand years.” His voice is so dark and deep you have no trouble believing him, and when he adds, “I’ve been putting out fire with gasoline,” you know there’s danger afoot.


Set to a guitar driven arrangement crafted by veteran film composer Giorgio Moroder (Flashdance, Midnight Express) Bowie’s lyrics evoke the doomed characters from the movie. Irena and her brother Paul, played by Natassia Kinski and Malcolm McDowell respectively, are descendants of humans who mated with leopards. This causes them to turn into panthers whenever they have sex with people, and they can’t return to their human forms without killing somebody. Bowie has created several of his own fascinating characters through his music over the years, and he’s just as adept in conveying Irena and Paul’s tortured emotions. “Still this pulsing night/A plague I call a heartbeat/Just be still with me/Ya wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through.”


The movie Cat People successfully tapped into the superstitions we’ve had about felines for centuries. Even today, it’s a good idea to make sure black house cats are kept indoors on Halloween to prevent deranged people from hurting them. And steer clear of panthers as well.

1 comments:

Jeff October 18, 2010 at 12:02 PM  

I loved the movie version of “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” I remember When I bought "Let's Dance" which has the same song on it, I was disappointed that is wasn't the same version. Eventually I got a copy of the movie version.

Can I also point out that the original 1942 Val Lewton film "Cat People" is one of the best low budget horror movies ever made.

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