27 November 2014

The Leopard Man (1943)
66 min.
Directed by Jacques Tourneur.
With Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Abner Biberman, Dynamite.
This lean little 1943 horror from producer Val Lewton is really an early blueprint for the modern slasher.

In a small town in New Mexico, a black leopard accidently escapes from captivity and brutally kills a young local woman.

Soon, more gruesome murders begin to plague the village. But is the dangerous cat to blame for these additional deaths...or could there actually be a psychotic human prowler in the area?

Director Tourneur delivers another well-executed monochromatic terror moodpiece, this one based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 novel Black Alibi.

Several stalk scenes here are true standouts, most notably the nighttime sequence where castanets-obsessed Clo-Clo searches for $100 bucks she's lost...but instead finds death at the hands of a killer lurking in the shadows.

Overall, this is a taut exercise in thematic simplicity and careful pacing.

Definitely comes recommended.

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