Sometimes I feel like a cliche horror fan. A fan who never ventured far out of his comfort zone. Someone who hardly ever attempted watching any earlier than ’60s horror, and mainly sticking to ’70s and beyond. Honestly, it’s a terrible way of living as there are plenty of great horror films from the ’50s and earlier. This has been proven by Scream Factory, since lately they have been releasing a collection of older horror films. Thanks to Scream I’ve dipped my toes in a few flicks from the ’30s and just recently, I checked out one from 1943 titled The Leopard Man.
The story for The Leopard Man is an interesting one. After an act involving a real live leopard goes awry, the leopard escapes and the entire town is terrified that they could be attacked at any moment. Unfortunately, a girl is mauled and dies by the paws of the leopard. A few days later another girl is killed in the local cemetery and it seems like it could be the leopard again. Jerry Manning (Dennis O’Keefe), who is responsible for bringing the leopard to the act mentioned above, thinks the leopard wasn’t the culprit, but someone who is using the loose leopard as an ingenious coverup.
First off, what makes The Leopard Man such an interesting film is the fact that it uses its scant runtime of 66-minutes to waste no time telling a captivating story. As for the murders, they are not grisly, but the acting is good enough that you feel the terror in the victim’s face as they realise the reality of what is about to happen to them. Unfortunately, the motive for the killer is lacking, to say the least. It boils down to “they be crazy.” Even with a shallow motive, the movie delivers a compelling story that keeps your butt in the seat and your eyes on the screen.
Scream Factory releases The Leopard Man on Blu-ray with a 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative and the results speak for themselves. The film looks phenomenal, especially given the age, and I can guarantee it has never looked this nice since its theatrical release. (We at Cultsploitation have included a helpful Blu-ray gallery that you can check out to see for yourself.) Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, and as I usually say in every review, I never noticed any issues popping up. There was one point in the film where the audio had an echo, but it was during a scene that took place at a museum, and it seems to have been intentionally shot and recorded that way. Extra features include a new audio commentary with Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr. It’s a very informative and engaging commentary, and one you’ll want to check out. The other commentary is an older feature with director William Friedkin that was included on the 2005 DVD release. Also provided are a trailer and still gallery.
The Leopard Man captivated me with a fun murder mystery that keeps you highly entertained. The Scream Factory Blu-ray looks fantastic with the new 4K scan, and the new informative commentary with Constantine Nasr is worth checking out. A few more features would have been nice, but I think the transfer is going to be the big selling point with this one.
A weak motive doesn't hurt The Leopard Man enough to warrant skipping this stellar-looking, but light on extra features, Blu-ray from Scream Factory.