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"IN A GLASS CAGE is an obscure and rather hard to stomach Spanish (kind of) arthouse horror movie. It has a rather bad reputation for being one of the most disturbing movies ever committed to celluloid and when I did some online research prior to placing my order on amazon's website I found lots of stories of whole audience walk-outs durings screenings of the film.
While I personally think that the film does not exactly live up to his bad reputation and feel that the shock value is a bit overrated (admittedly this could be due to my familarity with the plot prior to watching it) make no mistake about it: Most people will find story and events in this movie completely revolting and disgusting. I kidd you not.
IN A GLASS CAGE's story concerns Klaus, a paedophile and former Nazi concentration camp doctor who had conducted horrifying experiments on children during the war. Confined helplessly to an iron lung (the glass cage of the title) after a failed suicide attempt, he lives with his wife Griselda and daughter Rena very isolated in exile in Spain. One day, a young man blackmails Klaus in order to be hired as a nurse. It is obvious that the intruder does not simply wants a job and Klaus' past is linked to this young man...What unfolds is an horrifying tale about the attraction of evil and a cycle of ever repeating abuse and terror.
While the film is not overly graphic in its murder scenes, the film is often quite hard to watch, most notably when Angelo stabs a young boy with a gasolene filled syringe in the heart. However what is far more shocking is the sickness of the movie's theme of child abuse. It has to be said however that IN A GLASS CAGE is not a nasty horror film, exploiting a serious issue for questionable entertainment value. It is in fact quite intellectual demanding and you have a lot to think about after the end of the film (the cycle of ever repeating abuse and terror, the political subtext).
It is also very well made, boasting an impressive cinematography with images that linger long in the mind of the viewer. Kudos to the excellent actors for their powerhouse performances in very difficult and challenging roles.
As said before this is an demanding movie which will most likely upset and deeply shock most audiences. If in doubt, do not watch.However I was not overly impressed with the DVD. Picture quality is acceptable, however far from outstanding.
Annoyingly there is little in the way of extras, just some well written liner notes (well written, but somehow pointless, since only stating the obvious) and a highly interesting but too brief interview with director Agustin VILLARONGA.
Thankfully the optional English subtitles are easy on the eyes."
For Those Of You Seeking Uncompromising Cinema,
Robert A. Ecuyer | Upstate NY, USA | 03/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In A Glass Cage is a piece of work that should not be overlooked. When I saw the film Apt Pupil, I thought it was a decent film with some superb acting, but sadly I felt Hollywood had watered the movie down when it came to portraying the Nazi mentality, decadence, cycle of abuse, and cruelty. After viewing In A Glass Cage, I had finally seen what the other film could have become if it were not for Hollywood politics, and since then I have kept an ever closer eye on foreign cinema.
In A Glass Cage is a both a tale of mental decay and revenge. This story revolves around a German family that has relocated to isolation in Spain after the fall of the 3rd Reich, and a young man(Angelo), who as a child was abused by the patriarch of the family, Klaus; a former SS officer. Angelo has tracked Klaus down, and catches him committing another brutal act against a youth. Klaus' brutal act sends Klaus over the mental edge, and in a fit of despair, he makes a failed suicide bid, confining him to an Iron Lung with glass windows(the Glass Cage). Angelo, having gathered some sensitive journals depicting Klaus' crimes, uses this and his past with Klaus to coerce Klaus into allowing Angelo into the household to "care" for the paralyzed and helpless Klaus.
Angelo quickly begins corrupting the family, gaining the daughter's affections and simultaneously gaining the abhorance of the family matriarch, while keeping Klaus on edge by making him relive the atrocities he has tried to escape. At first Angelo does this through reading the journals of atrocities to Klaus, and eventually Angelo descends deeper into madness, and begins committing atrocities of his own. Starting with the matriarch of the house, Angelo begins to kill, and he quickly moves on to children like is described in the journals he reads. The torture of Klaus who both adores and despises himself for the very things he is now forced to watch has come full circle. His wife is dead, his daughter is controlled by Angelo, and he is forced to relive himself.
This is where the uncompromising nature of the piece really takes hold. Children are put to death in this film, and the viewer is not spared the agony of this with implications, or off-camera violence. This happens in your face, even in the very first scene with Klaus and the youth. It places a bitter slice of Nazi cruelty right in your mouth for you to taste. Eventually this cruelty is aimed at Klaus himself, and with the eerie aid of the daughter, the mental schism becomes complete, with Angelo assuming the role of Klaus in the glass cage.
I found this film to be more of a dramatic shocker than an art-house film, but the story is solid and the acting is top notch, especially when approaching the subject matter. In a Glass Cage does not shock simply to degrade the viewer, rather presents the violencce in a "this is how it went down" fashion. Nothing is glamorized and no character is particularly likeable, they simply do as they are programmed to do for better or worse, which is right on point in the context of Naziism.
If the visually-presented subject of Nazi cruelty regarding homosexuality, petiphilia, and grotesque murder of children would get you to leave a room, then this film is not for you. But for those of you seeking uncompromising cinema...."
Possibly the most disturbing movie you'll ever see
C. Garcia | Henderson, NV | 08/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie at a midnight screening in New York City about ten years ago expecting a movie loaded with blood and dismemberments. Instead, I got a movie lacking in gore, but high on psychological horror.The movie is about Klaus, a Nazi war criminal and child molester exiled in Spain with his family, who ends up confined to an iron lung (a huge metal and glass breathing aparatus, the "glass cage" of the title). One day, a young man named Angelo shows up at his home demanding a private meeting with him. Against his wife's wishes, Klaus agrees to see Angelo, who walks out of the meeting with a new position as Klaus's live-in caretaker. He soon takes over the household and reveals his true reason for being there: Angelo had been one of Klaus's victims as a child, but rather than returning to exact revenge, he wants to learn from Klaus and reenact his atrocities.The movie doesn't have any explicit gore, but it doesn't flinch at other disturbing visuals either. While most films that feature child murders only allude to them and have the crimes occur offscreen, director Agustín Villaronga doesn't hesitate to show a little boy's throat being sliced. More disturbing than any of the child murders, though, is how Angelo gains complete control of the household, including the full trust of Klaus's young daughter. It's the thought of evil having such seductive power that will haunt you long after the credits roll.This movie is clearly not for everybody, and fans of mainstream cinema will likely brand this exploitation, but for those with a strong stomach and a taste for something different, this horror classic, long overdue on DVD, will be a real treat."
A STUNNING PIECE OF FILM !!!!
Manfred Zeichmann | 12/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd heard about Tras El Cristal many years ago when being a (slightly!) younger boy....it was 1 of those "legendary" movies you read reviews about(from the lucky few to see it) it's 1 of those "pure"(in cinematic terms?) films so cold yet warm, on finally viewing it now (especially as an an adult who was abused as a child) this movie has done more for me than countless years of counselling!! don't get me wrong as with the other reviews the movie IS graphic(though not overtly) & disturbing(very) but it is told with such style & grace that the movie should not suffer for it's "notorious" reputation, gorehounds beware....this is not the movie for you!! it has visual flourishes in the styles of Mario Bava,Dario Argento Antonio Marghereti...all those Italian Grand Stylists(though the movie is spanish)....it contains 1 of the most disturbing/stylish/erotic murder scenes i've EVER seen(not graphic & NOT with a child) tell your friends about this movie ENJOY IT give it the reputation it truly deserves........as a stunning piece of cinema....remember when movies were meant to make you feel emotion .....well this will bring your faith back in the power of the medium HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!"
Creepy and Not For the Squeamish
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 10/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The box for this DVD caught my eye immediately. I must confess I've always had a morbid interest in Nazi atrocity movies, although while watching them I usually find myself filled with disgust, and absolutely enraged that the participants of Hitler's war on decency were able to get as far as they did, and that so many of them got away with it. This film is described as a horror story and, on that level, it certainly delivers.
The narrative concerns a former Nazi named Klaus who took advantage of his position to indulge himself in the sadistic torture and sexual abuse of young boys. He continues his horrible blood-spree after the war, but in a fit of remorse, attempts suicide and winds up an invalid, confined to an iron lung (exactly how this happens was very unclear in the actual film - I rely on the accuracy of a review I read for this piece of plotline). His resentful wife and his small, shy daughter care for him, but long for a nurse to provide some relief. Enter a young man named Angelo who (we learn much later, but suspect from the moment of his introduction) was one of Klaus' few victims to survive meeting him. In a bizarre twist, the young man not only wants to perversely torture his tormentor in revenge, he also seeks to carry out similar crimes, acting out certain details in Klaus' diary exactly. Apparently Angelo's mind has been warped by his encounter with Klaus, and although he is horrified by the details, he is perversely excited by death, and seeks release by performing acts of cruelty in the presence of the man who treated him so badly so long ago. The result is a somewhat hard to follow but always absorbing shock-fest, which succeeds for its gory excesses if nothing else. It has more than its share of difficult-to-watch horror scenes, and one perfectly unforgettable scene in which Angelo murders Klaus' wife, and then ingeniously uses her corpse to exact a horrifying revenge. The contemplation of this scene alone chilled me to the bone and ruined my sleep for more than one night.
One aspect of it bothered me even more. This is NOT a gay film; I certainly don't view Klaus -who is married and has a daughter - as anything but a sadistic heterosexual child molester, who happens to favor little boys as his victims. Yet it is aggressively being marketed as a "gay film" and I, for one, resent the fact that some people seem to see it that way merely because the sadistic child molester victimizes boys. The young actor who plays Angelo is quite handsome, but his actions are far too cruel, sadistic and depraved for anyone but a full-blown masochist to find him erotically stimulating.
If you want a fully realized and graphically bloody horror film, you will enjoy this picture very much. However, if you find this shocker even slightly erotic, I suggest you check out a good therapist on the way home. "