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|Nastassja Kinski||Irena Gallier|
|Malcolm McDowell||Paul Gallier|
|John Heard||Oliver Yates|
|Ed Begley Jr.||Joe Creigh|
|Scott Paulin||Bill Searle|
|Frankie Faison||Det. Brandt|
|Annette O'Toole||Alice Perrin|
|John Larroquette||Bronte Judson|
"An Erotic Fantasy About The Animal In Us All."
"They Are Something More Than Lovers Who Are About To Become Something Less Than Human."
Irena Gallier meets her older brother Paul, a minister, in New Orleans. It is the first time they have met since their animal trainer-parents died, and Irena was sent to a series of foster homes. Paul's Creole housekeeper Female (pronounced feh-MAH-leh) helps Irena settle into her brother's home, but Paul himself disappears. That same night, a Ruthie, prostitute, walks into a fleabag motel to meet a john — and is instead mauled by a black leopard. The police capture the leopard, aided by a team of zoologists: Oliver Yates, Alice Perrin, and Joe Creigh.
The next day, Irena finds herself in the zoo where these scientists work. Drawn to the newly-captured leopard, she befriends Oliver and takes a job in the gift shop nearby. Shortly afterward, the leopard kills Joe by tearing off his arm and it escapes. Soon, Paul turns up and tells Irena of their family's werecat heritage. He also tells her that their parents were actually brother and sister. Only sex with another werecat prevents the transformation; the werecats are ancestrally incestuous. When a werecat has sex with a human, it transforms into a leopard, and only by killing a human can the werecat regain human form. On the run from her dangerous brother, Irena takes refuge in a sexually-frustrated romance with Oliver, afraid of what might happen if she consummates their passion.
Eventually, Paul (in leopard form) breaks into Oliver's house, intent on killing him so he can have Irena to himself, but is shot by Alice. While performing an autopsy on the cat, Oliver finds a human body inside and the panther disintegrates; Paul has literally disappeared..
Irena is trapped. If she takes a human lover, she will have to kill to regain human form. Eventually, Irena has sex with Oliver, transforms into a leopard and flees, sparing Oliver's life. She escapes, but is later trapped on a bridge by police. Shortly after Oliver arrives at the scene, Irena sees him and jumps off the bridge and escapes. Oliver realizes where she is headed and confronts Irena at a secluded lake house, she having regained human form by killing the house's caretaker. Irena tells Oliver she did not kill him because she loves him, and begs him to let her "be with her own". Oliver realizes that he cannot live without her, so he ties Irena's arms and legs to the posts of the bed and proceeds to have sex with her, knowing what she will become.
We then see Oliver at the zoo working. By this time, he and Alice are romantically involved. He walks to a cage that contains a black leopard, casually hand-feeding it and stroking its fur.
Theatrical : 1982-04-02 : United States of America
DVD : 2000-10-10
DVD : 1998-01-14
DVD : 2002-08-27