Thursday, November 17, 2011

Trapped IN A GLASS CAGE (Blu Ray Finally!)

D. Agusti Villaronga
1:85 Anamorphic
Blu Ray and DVD

There are a lot of movies anymore that claim to be the most disturbing movies of all time. Last year A SERBIAN FILM sexually assaulted audiences, brutalizing them to the point that criminal charges were filed at a film festival in Spain. While that film is everything you have heard and more, it lacks a certain poetry; a lyricism to it's violence. So while A SERBIAN FILM manages to violate you, and scar your psyche, it fails to engage your soul. But there is another film that hit the scene twenty five years about that was the sensation of the time, that did all these things and more. A film that was so shocking when it came out that almost all film festivals refused to play it, leaving only Gay and Lesbian festivals to embrace it, and even there it left audiences shocked and destroyed. But it was horror audiences who found the film through the underground critical writings of Chas Balun who praised the film in his DEEP RED magazine calling it the only film to scar him on a spiritual level.

IN A GLASS CAGE is a film that is so distressing that it is a film that almost has to be confronted as much as watched. But unlike a film like A SERBIAN FILM, this is not simple shock machine, no aggressive attempt to piss in the audience's faces and make them feel sickened and disgusted. IN A GLASS CAGE is an honest attempt to look evil in the face, to explore the circular nature of evil. And even more distressing, it is a really upsetting love story.

The film opens with a scene sure to upset the hell out of those more sensitive types. An old man named Klaus (Gunter Meisner from THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL) has a naked teenage boy strung up in an old stone building. From the old man's behavior it is clear the scene has been that of a sexual nature. Someone is outside of the building watching through the window. The old man takes a two by four and beats the boy to death. He then heads to the roof and throws himself off. But not before who ever was watching could gather the books and diaries scattered about that the man left behind.

The movie proper starts, with credits playing over scenes of young boys in Nazi prison camps, letting us know the scene we had just watched was happening in during World War two. Then the movie picks up eight years later and Klaus is not living in a villa under the care of his wife, maid and young daughter Rena. He is confined to an iron lung due to being paralyzed from his suicide attempt. His wife, who is at the end of her rope from caring for him is in need for a live in nurse. A Handsome young man named Angelo (David Sust) mysteriously appears, and though his wife immediately hates him, he takes the job. Klaus and Angelo seem to share a secret that connect them in the past, and soon Angelo is tearing his way through the family. He begins to sexually abuse Klaus, turn on and off the iron lung, and repeat his more terrifying experiments form the prison camps with children from the surrounding neighborhoods.

The film is a terrifying look at how evil spreads from one incident, i.e. a war, or a moment of unmitigated sexual abuse, and spreads through time like ripples on water. Klaus and Angelo are destined to play out their dance of evil together to the point it almost feels like a love story. But also playing into that is the character or Rena, Klaus young daughter who does indeed fall in love with Angelo, to the point that she clearly sees the awful things he is preptrating in her home, to her Father. That she learns the evil that her Father once was, and that she too will perhaps inherit the cycle.

But make no mistake, IN A GLASS CAGE is no fly by nigh shock machine, it is a measured, thoughtful and at times hauntingly beautiful film that happens to deal with some of the most hopeless and sad material humanity could possibly offer. Agusti Villarongo has fashioned a truly disturbing film, that is also deeply poetic, visually stunning and achingly heartfelt. It is disturbing because it is so damn HUMAN. Human in that it shows the worst the human animal can offer.

Cult Epics new Blu Ray and DVD is a significant upgrade over their previous DVD edition. While that edition was naturally a HUGE step up from the washed out murky VHS available for years, there was some sync issues, and subtitle issues on that previous edition and a distinct lack of extras. This new HD transfer is much cleaner with nice accurate colors (though the black levels seem a little lacking in detail at times to me). The Steel blues and grays are all very well accentuated. The extras include three of Villaronga's older short films and two fascinating and lengthy interviews that shed some light on his goals in making this now infamous film.  

Review © Andrew Copp   

1 comment:

  1. What does it say about me that a film I'm snatching up on Blu-Ray that I would ordinarily be ashamed to be caught watching in a theater?

    Gunter Meisner's most visible role to U.S. viewers was as "Slugworth" in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in 1971.