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The Leopard Man (1943, 66 min.)- Adapted from the Cornell Woolrich novel Black Alibi, The Leopard Man is a lesser but still fascinating psychological-horror effort from producer Val Lewton. Someone has been killing off the citizens of a small New Mexico town, and the most likely suspect is a huge leopard, purchased for a local nightclub act by press agent Jerry Manning (Dennis O'Keefe). Neither Manning nor his star Clo-Clo (Margo) are totally convinced that the big cat is responsible, and as it turns out they're right. The haunting finale takes place during the annual "Dance of the Dead" festivities, during which the genuine predator is revealed. The opening sequence of Leopard Man, atmospherically detailing the last few moments of murder victim Teresa Delgado (Margaret Landry), is so powerful that the rest of the film seems anticlimactic. Long available only in its 59-minute reissue form, the film was restored to its original 65-minute running time in the mid-1980s. The Ghost Ship (1943, 69 min.)- RKO horror producer Val Lewton dished up seven reels of brooding psychological terror with The Ghost Ship. Richard Dix stars as the ship's captain, a tortured soul who teeters on the verge of madness. Seaman Russell Wade notices the captain's deterioration, but his warnings are dismissed by the crew. Captain Dix completely goes over the edge, sadistically playing a game of cat and mouse with the luckless Wade--and endangering the lives of everyone on board. While the viewer may notice that Ghost Ship closely resembles the Jack London tale The Sea Wolf, playwrights Samuel R. Golding and Norbert Faulkner felt that the film was too close for comfort to an unproduced play of their own. The writers sued RKO, forcing the studio to withdraw Ghost Ship from theatres and prohibiting future TV showings.

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WA7275 Leopard Man/Ghost Ship Double Feature DVD (1943/Val Lewton) $19.98 $17.99