Circle of Fear (1972–1973)
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A handsome rodeo star falls in love with a seductive young woman. With growing horror, he starts to realize that she is somehow connected to a series of deadly cougar attacks on the rodeo's crew.


Arnold Laven


William Bast, Richard Matheson (developer)


Episode credited cast:
Sebastian Cabot ... Winston Essex
Doug McClure ... Dan Hollis
Lauri Peters ... Mariah Hollis
Mariette Hartley ... Sheila Conway
Jackie Cooper ... Dumpy Doyle
Don 'Red' Barry ... First Cowboy (as Donald Barry)
Clint Ritchie ... Second Cowboy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Benedict ... Mr. Parker
Hanna Landy ... Mrs. King




A handsome rodeo star falls in love with a seductive young woman. With growing horror, he starts to realize that she is somehow connected to a series of deadly cougar attacks on the rodeo's crew.

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GHOST STORY: CRY OF THE CAT {TV} (Arnold Laven, 1972) **1/2
1 May 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This is the second entry I watched from the titular fantasy series – actually following the third in the original scheduling chronology, which I acquired after I had already checked this one out! – produced by affable showman film-maker William Castle; as with the two remaining episodes, I only came across this via a segmented copy on "You Tube"...unlike the series pilot, which was a 'full video'! Although director Laven had infrequently tackled the genre before (notably helming THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD and producing THE VAMPIRE within the same year, 1957, both with effective results), I suspect he was chosen for this one on the strength of his expertise in the Western field.

Indeed, here we have a star rodeo rider (Doug McClure) returning with a mysterious bride (Lauri Peters) and, for whose blind devotion, he ends up alienating his former flame (Mariette Hartley) and mentor, now reduced to dressing up as a clown to amuse the crowds (Jackie Cooper). The thing is that the new lady is the daughter of Cooper's own ex-lover… whom he had been forced to kill after she metamorphosed into a cougar and attacked him; he fears Peters will take after her, which McClure obviously dismisses. However, whenever the hero is thrown by the animals he mounts (be it an ox or his horse – instinctively mistrusting Peters' feline nature), these are subsequently found with their throats slashed! A male cougar known to be in the vicinity is targeted for the deeds, but it is actually following Peters around, the latter being its female counterpart!

Anyway, after Hartley is herself assaulted and McClure fails to take a pot-shot at the she-cat (for fear it may really be his wife), he decides to heed her advice and leave for his ranch – where she asks him to chain her in the barn for the night (a' la Lawrence Talbot in the Universal "Wolf Man" franchise!), while he has to force himself from listening first to her pleas and, then, her animal growls. Just when he decides to go after the male, which might help Peters from 'turning', Hartley and Cooper pay the couple a visit – the latter lays traps for the ultimate kill, but the former is duped into believing that McClure himself has grown unreasonable when she sees the shackled Peters and frees the woman…thus unwittingly also sending her romantic rival to meet with an inevitable destiny.

As can be seen, this is essentially CAT PEOPLE (1942) all over again, without the psychology or the noir stylistics that producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur had instilled into their similarly modest but infinitely superior effort! Perhaps the worst that can be attributed to this one is that Peters is not only, to my mind, less attractive than Hartley (which begs the question of what did McClure see in her in the first place) but she is intermittently made to display an inhuman tick which is positively ludicrous! Otherwise, as before, the episode is certainly harmless and not unentertaining for what it sets out to be.

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Release Date:

24 November 1972 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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