Chill beneath a cadaverously gray autumn sky, the tiny New Mexico town. That slate moment in the seasons when everything begins to grow dark. The epileptic scratching of fallen leaves hurled along sidewalks. Mad sounds from the hills. Cold. And something else:
A leopard, escaped, is loose in the town. Chill beneath a crawling terror of spotted death in the night, the tiny New Mexico town. That thick red moment in the fears of small people when everything explodes in the black flow of blood. A deep-throated growl from a filthy alley. Cold.
A mother, preoccupied with her cooking, tells her small daughter to go down the street to the market, get a sack of flour to make bread for the father, coming home from work soon. The child shows a moment of fear… the animal they haven’t found yet…
The mother insists, it’s only a few blocks and across the bridge to the market. Put on a shawl and go and get the flour, your father will be home soon. The child goes. Hurrying back up the street, the small sack held close to her, the street empty and filling with darkness, ink presses down the sky, the child looks around, and hurries. A cough in the blackness behind her. A cough, deep in a throat that never formed human sounds.
The child’s eyes widen in panic. She begins to hurry. Her footsteps quicken. The sound of padding behind her. Feet begin to run. Focus on darkness and the sound of rapid movement. The child. The rushing.
The wooden door of the house. The door is locked. The child pinned against the night, with the furred sound of agony rushing toward her on the wind.
Inside, the mother, still kitchened, waiting. The sound of the child outside, panic and bubbles of hysteria in the voice, Mommy open the door the leopard is after me!
The mother’s face assumes the ages-old expression of harassed parenthood. Hands on hips, she turns to the door, you’re always lying, telling fibs, making up stories, how many times have I told you lying will —
Mommy! Open the door!
You’ll stay out there until you learn to stop lying!
Something gigantic hits the door with a crash. The door bows inward, and a fine spray of flour sifts between the cracks into the room. The mother’s eyes grow huge, she stares at the door. A thick black stream, moving very slowly, seeps under the door.
The movie is great. Has one of the best “Trapped in a graveyard” sequences I’ve ever viewed.
The killer is actually a psychopath, not a big cat. Not a terrible spoiler, given the title.
Trivia – Dynamite (the leopard) was claimed to be the only trained leopard in the world. Dynamite also appeared in Cat People.
Neat! the Screenplay’s online.
A more unbiased review. I still like it just fine. A nice breakdown of the cemetery sequence. It’s so short… just over an hour.