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on 5 July 2011
I was attracted to this film mainly for it's controversial reputation(I am one of those people who hunts down this sort of thing),but also the story sounded intriguing and potentially gripping(I also like a really well-made film,regardless of genre).I admit I was a little hesitant at first because the subject of child murder is extremely upsetting to me(I only have to think of some of the real-life atrocities commited to children and I start to get teary-eyed).So I knew I would have a rough time watching this.
Thankfully,there are only two scenes of actual murder on-screen(I don't think I could have managed much more)and one very brief sexual act.Without doubt the two murder scenes are the most gruelling and upsetting scenes I have ever witnessed on film(especially the first one).I couldn't actually watch these in their entirety and was crying the whole time.The scenes are so well acted that you can lose yourself in the illusion and look past the performances so you become a fly on the wall and feel like you are actually watching this really happen(the way proper acting SHOULD make you feel).When I was watching these scenes,I was transported to a room with Myra Hindley,so the fear etched on that first child's face made me beakdown,as I imagined that's what it must have been like for Hindley's victims.It is enough to send a shiver up your spine.
In A Glass Cage is an intensely dark film,about as dark as they come and a legitamately shocking piece of work.However it is much more than that.It is a daring,brutally honest and unflinching gaze into the heart of pure evil,a morbidly fascinating work that is perfectly made and impeccably acted(even the young children are scarily realistic in their roles as victims).But it is very confrontational and at times nearly impossible to watch.It effected me more than any film ever has or probably will.For a good while afterwards I was slightly nauseous and had to wash the images out of my mind with some much lighter viewing!It took a good week or so before I stopped thinking about it.A harrowing experience but an outstanding film nonetheless.
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on 15 October 2007
Director Agustin Villaronga's In a Glass Cage (1986) belongs to that special kind of art-house sub-genre, the Transgressive Horror Film. In other words, its pitch black subject matter, debatable amoral subjectivity, and kinky violence may be a bit too arty and pretentious for the average horror fan who is simply looking for a good old-fashioned slasher flick or monster a go-go. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.

Films such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's almost unwatchable yet fascinating Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) comes to mind, as does Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 existential monster film, Possession. Both of these worthwhile films were firmly in the realm of the "intelligent" art-house take on the horror genre. Although both films aimed to repulse, horrify, outrage, and disturb the viewer, Pasolini and Zulawski were nevertheless not making straight horror films. Their objectives were to spur one to political action or to turn inward and examine the political crises within, so to speak. The films of David Lynch are also firmly within this art-house sub-genre, although he embraces the conventions of the genre more so than not.

In a Glass Cage, while not a full-fledged horror film, is a more slippery and tricky film to pin down. Yes, its pedigree is with the art-house Transgressives, but Villaronga's film is far too vicious, as it gleefully wallows in cinematic perversity, to remain an art-house Transgressive without stirring up some serious second thoughts. In many ways it's a lot closer to Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960), John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), and the films of Jorg Buttgereit among others, than it is to its art-house kindred. It works better as a straight horror film than it does a meditation on sexual perversity. It understands the beats, the rhythms of the horror film. Villaronga pulls the viewer in with his thriller film style. But therein lies the problem, as well.

In a Glass Cage is a deeply troubling and unflinching examination of child torture, rape, and murder. It's Fritz Lang's 1931 classic M without the objectivity or distance. And it's told from the victim's viewpoint as well as from the all-too-human monster's, who in this case is one and the same.

Angelo (David Sust) is a very, very disturbed young man. Having witnessed the brutal torture and murder of a young boy by an ex-Nazi doctor (Gunter Meisner) as a young boy himself, Angelo descends into a pit of self-loathing and perverse fantasies wherein he is both victim and abuser. Years later, the adult Angelo pays a visit to the same villa where the ex-Nazi and his family (who are in hiding from the authorities and the outside world) still live. Klaus, the Nazi doctor, is paralyzed from the neck down from having thrown himself off of the villa's watchtower after killing the boy that the young Angelo had witnessed years ago. Now, encased in a metal oxygen tube (the titular glass cage), Klaus needs outside help since his wife Griselda (played by Almodovar regular Marisa Paredes) no longer can or will take care of him. Angelo, posing as a nurse, applies for the job and gets it when Klaus demands that he be hired, much to Griselda's suspicion and dismay.

Much of the film deals with the strange and perverse bond between Angelo and Klaus and how within this realm of unfettered morality and limitless sexual depravity, the roles of victim and abuser easily become clouded. At times it's reminiscent of the Stephen King novella Apt Pupil, in which King explored how a Nazi-obsessed teenage boy discovered that his next door neighbor had been a concentration camp officer during the war.

But unlike the King story, which has a moral core to it, Villaronga's film is a far more unbridled beast. Although it is frequently mesmerizing and brilliantly filmed, its aesthetic beauty is unable to disguise its nihilism and black heart. Crass enough to wallow in cheap cat-and-mouse shenanigans (the scenes of Angelo creeping around the villa at night; Angelo chasing Griselda), the film nevertheless presents one of the only truly effective psychological portraits of human evil on film. It's a schizophrenic film to say the least. But it's an unforgettable one, as well.
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on 17 February 2012
The film is excellent, very dark and disturbing but also beautifully shot and extremely well acted. It iss not for everyone as it deals unflinchingly with some contentious subject matter, but is a sombre and haunting tale that qualifies as one of the best horror films of the 1980s.

The blu-ray from Cult Epics is region free and is a huge improvement over their original DVD release. The 1080HD transfer is brighter, more colourful, more natural. It's also 16x9 enhanced. There are new extras too including a new interview with director Agusti Villaronga, a 40 minute featurette with Villaronga and early short films by him.

For those that can stomach it, this is the definitive release of In A Glass Cage.
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on 23 October 2012
The subject matter of this one is about as disturbing as it gets but, as films go, this constitutes supreme immortal art. I won't casually recommend this, read a synopsis before viewing.
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on 3 May 2012
There are many creepy moments in this film which have been very effectively staged, including a staircase denouement worthy of Hitchcock. The film ventures into several 'taboo' areas that are sure to push the buttons of the puritanical, but for those who understand that life is sometimes a very dark place, this film is a refreshing treat.
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on 3 February 2011
If you were curious about the film 'Salo' and found that actually having seen it once was enough, then you're likely to feel the same way about this. It is very cleverly photographed and well acted, but leaves a feeling of dirt in the soul. Sating curiosity is all very well but it's an expensive film and is not 'entertainment' in any sense of the word. However, for a connoisseur of modern horror, maybe more interested in the technical aspects of film than just the plot, and have a wide knowledge of 'horror' styles, then you may well find this more satisfying.

I'm assuming you already know the plot and just want to know if it's worth the money to buy it. If you prefer horror like Saw or Hostel, or 80's slasher movies, then the answer is probably no ! If you're looking to push the boundaries of what you see as far as possible, then by all means spend and see. It is an intensely depressing film, with no sympathetic main characters, leaves you feeling as if you've been down a long dark hole of nihilism and depravity, and wondering whether the human mind ever ceases thinking up ways to hurt others.
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on 17 April 2013
The film starts with a man beating a boy who is tied up hanging from a ceiling in an old disused building. Forward a few years and the old man is now in a glass cabinet which is keeping him alive. The majority of the film is set in his house with only a small cast of characters which gives the film a nice mood and atmosphere. One of his old victims comes back pretending to be a nurse. He wants to witness the feelings the torturer wrote about in his notes and starts by killing his wife and firing the maid. During the course of the film he invites a couple of boys back to the house. One he kills by injecting a needle to the heart; another he forces him to sing then slits his throat. But this is not a film for gore hounds. Despite the subject matter there is nothing disturbing or shocking about this film. Not necessarily a horror film, more a well crafted piece of world cinema that is only let down towards the end when it tries too hard to be an art film
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on 17 April 2013
A hard to watch film, depicting a nasty ex-nazi now crippled and living in an aqualung, whose wife engages the help of a young male nurse to look after him.

The nurse however, secretly worships the nazi for the tortures he performed on young boys during the war, and wants to re-enact them himself, whilst the old guy watches and gets off sexually on the murder and mayhem.

Sick and horrible, this film is beautifully filmed and acted, and as with all art horror movies, it gets away with it's vile subject matter by presenting it in a subtle and stylised way.

Still depressing and unpleasant to watch. It's power to shock is undeniable.
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on 2 October 2015
Everything perfect. Totally pleased. thank you very much. Kind regards from Antwerp
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