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July 5, 2013

Movie Review: In a Glass Cage (1987, Blu-ray)

There was a time back in my more formative years (around the mid-90's) where I was on this kick to find the most disturbing or gross films ever made. Titles like Ruggero Deotato's Cannibal Holocaust, Pasolini's Salo: 120 Days of Sodom and Men Behind the Sun were some of my absolute favorites when it came to these amazing taboo-breaking films. Agusti Villaraonga's In a Glass Cage also stood high among these classic shockers.

Buy In A Glass Cage on Blu-ray or DVD

At the time there was no DVD, nor a good quality version of In a Glass Cage (I actually watched it in Spanish and I suck at Spanish!). The 2000's came and genre DVD/Blu-ray producer, Cult Epics put out a very nice DVD version with English subtitles. Cult Epics has done some fine work with recent Blu-ray upgrades so it was only natural to make Villaronga's notorious 1987 film a reality.

After years of horrible abuse on children in Nazi death camps, Klaus (Gunter Meisner), so riddled with guilt, decides to cash in his chips and jump off a roof. The murderous child-molesting former Nazi doctor fails miserably with his suicide attempt and instead becomes completely paralyzed from the neck down. Now Klaus is completly reliant on a bulky iron-lung to take his every breath. In a lot of ways the machine resembles a “glass cage” as the title suggests. Klaus needs constant supervision so with the help of his wife Griselda (Marisa Paredes) and daughter Rena (Gisele Echevarria) he can live as normal wife as possible.

A mysterious young man arrives at Klaus’ palatial home. Angelo (David Sust) witnessed one of Klaus’ murders of a young boy and finds that he is ripe for blackmail if Klaus doesn’t go tell Angelo of his wartime memoirs, experimenting, torturing, murdering and raping prisoners. As evil as Klaus is somehow Angelo becomes more of a monster for the fact that he can carry on Klaus’ work – which include the pumping of gasoline through the chests of his young victims.

In a Glass Cage is so incredibly unique. As much as it disturbs with it’s content – which Villaronga borrows sparingly from the Joan of Arc era – it captivates with its visuals, with strong usage of blues and tiny bits of red and grey to compliment it. Villaronga created frightening piece of art in this film, it’s that simple. The acting by Meisner, Paredes , Echevarria and in particular Sust’s superb performance as Angelo.

Cult Epics has included some short films from Villaronga that seem to have an ongoing religious theme that echoes some of Jodorowsky’s work. It’s presented on tape because there are no available film elements. Nonetheless, each look just fine.  Villaronga also contributes to an interview and Q&A. Both of which need to be seen for the sheer fact that you have to know how came up with such a morbid masterpiece.

As uneasy as In a Glass Cage made this reviewer upon viewing, I can’t deny how magnificent Villaronga’s film is.  Cult Epics has taken it to the next level with an excellent upgrade that will no doubt please admirers impress jaded newcomers to Villaronga's gem. Highly Reccomended.
                           (Screencaps courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop!)

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