So, as previously established, Universal’s first talking horror film, THE CAT CREEPS, is now considered lost. Nevertheless, I have managed to score it off my list of films to see in my sentimental odyssey through all the films depicted in Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies (an odyssey entitled See Reptilicus and Die). How have I done this?
First, by stretching things a little. It’s my contention that a part can, under certain circumstances, stand for the whole. This is how cloning works, after all. THE CAT CREEPS is lost, but not absolutely entirely. A few seconds of footage appears in a Universal comedy short entitled BOO!, where it’s interspersed with clips from NOSFERATU and FRANKENSTEIN and a tiny amount of original material, cobbled together in a supposedly humorous way, with a dreadful nasal voice-over on top, after the school of Pete Smith. Horrible.
So, I’ve seen one minute and forty five seconds of THE CAT CREEPS, minus the soundtrack. Does that count? Yes it does. Here’s why ~
First, ask yourself, have you seen THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS? Or GREED? Possibly you have, but not in the complete form intended by the filmmakers. Nevertheless, you’d still say you had seen those films, right. So, I’ve seen all there apparently is of THE CAT CREEPS. And more — I’ve recreated it.
Below, for the first time anywhere, is all the footage from BOO! cut together in sequence, with the appalling voice-over removed, and all the repeating of shots for pseudo-comic effect deleted. This is, to all intents and purposes and until a full print is discovered in an Estonian insane asylum, Rupert (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) Julian’s THE CAT CREEPS ~
Based on all of the above self-serving obfuscation, I can now say I’ve seen THE CAT CREEPS. And so have you!
You can see the strong influence of Paul Leni’s THE CAT AND THE CANARY, of which this is a talkie remake.
Denis Gifford wrote ~
“Hal Mohr photographed, using the great camera crane he had designed for BROADWAY, a 50,000-dollar ‘mechanical marvel’ built by the Llewellyn Iron Works. Camera and man could be swung up, down, laterally or in combination, whilst travelling forward or backward on a motorized truck.” Not all early talkies were static!
This is Lupita Tovar in the Spanish-language version of THE CAT CREEPS (EL GATO SE ARRASTRA? no, they called it LA VOLUNTAD DEL MUERTO, or THE WILL OF THE DEAD MAN), shot at night on the same sets as the Rupert Julian version. George Melford, who also helmed the Spanish CONDE DRACULA, shared directorial duties with Enrique Tovar Avalos. And this version is lost too! As with DRACULA, the Spanish version seems to come with sexier costumes.