Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fifth Anniversary Post: The Cabinet of Caligari (1962)

I say this alot, but it bears repeating: I really need a hobby!
It's roughly that time of the year again that I celebrate another gone by on the site.  I'm kind of vague with dates like that.  I'm sure that will cause lots of fun 'discussions' if and when I ever get married.  'Honey, our Anniversary is on the 8th's the 16th, so I'm close.'  So what will we talk about today?  In previous years, I've discussed time-traveling warriors, confusing Remakes, compared two films and even dared to do a 1313 film!  So, in summary, there is no theme whatsoever.  Let's keep that up by reviewing an obscure Remake (kind of) of a film classic...whose real remake I've already talked about.  The film- The Cabinet of Caligari.  They excised the word 'Doctor' from the Title, though I have no idea why.  There is a 'Dr. Caligari' in the film, so go figure!  The big name attached to this film is Robert Bloch- the writer of Pyscho (the book)- here right after his biggest claim to fame.  I have a joke or two related to his work here, don't worry.  Fun Fact: Bloch is a Credited Writer on many films, including MST3K fare The Deadly Bees.  He also worked on films like Strait-Jacket, The House That Dripped Blood and a few others.  They're not all winners, you know.  The film is about a young(ish) lady who ends up at a mysterious House and is not allowed to leave!  Can she escape this mansion and Caligari?  Will the deranged residents help her?  Will I be the only one who draws parallels between this film and The Eagles' song 'Hotel California?'  To find out, read on...
A woman's car breaks down and she goes to use the phone at a nearby Mansion.  Even for 1962, this had to have been a creaky premise right?
The caretaker- Dr. Caligari- says that she cannot leave because she needs treatment.  Treatment?  She just needed to use the phone.

It's like the reverse of one of those Mormons that shows up at your door.  Instead of you letting him in, he lets YOU in and YOU then can't leave!
She can check out any time she likes, but she can ne-ver leave!

Too subtle?
At least the Guests/Patients are friendly.  Wasn't he Lucy's Neighbor Fred?
Dr. Caligari insists that she needs treatment.  Said treatments lead her to see freaky imagery lying the heads of people in bassinets and a man baking babies!

That seems weird, provided that you have never seen the kitchen at a Golden Corral!
She continues to struggle and try to leave.  She finds that there are dogs watching the perimeter.

Just for the record: if this turns into Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator, I'm leaving!
Our heroine finds one kindred spirit in a man who is willing to help her get away.  He really wants to help her, in fact, because...
He's actually Dr. Caligari!  Holy Plot Twist, Batman!
As it turns out, she's actually a Patient in his care.  The mean, bearded version was just her subconscious labeling him as a Villain since it was resisting the Therapy.

Just like The Wizard of Oz, everyone she saw in her fantasy world were from her real world.  On the plus side, she's finally cured.  The End.
Do all Classics hold up?  Not all of them, but this one is pretty good.  I will say no bad words about Robert Bloch's Writing.  I think it is actually illegal, but I would have to look that up.  The Story is pretty simple on paper, while obviously holding a deeper meaning in the end.  The movie doesn't do a whole lot that is all that new, but none of it is bad.  It's all good, so I can't complain.  You do have to bear in mind that the film was made 52 years ago, so it was far less cliche back then.  The film is a bit creaky- as mentioned above- in some ways.  Depending on your point of view, this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Some of you love the Classics and don't like the changes that have been made.  Some of you have only watched films made in the last 20 years and think that black-and-white films are a relic of the past.  Regardless of your point of view, the film is a decent successor to the original 1920 Classic.  As of this Writing, I still prefer the Original film.  Will that change?  Maybe.  For fans of the Classics, give this one a look.  For the rest of you, I give a more measured recommendation.  In closing, leave it to Robert Bloch to put a woman in the bathroom somehow...
Next up, I reluctantly do my remaining Project Terrible film.  It is all angsty and shit, so I'm sure to love it.  Stay tuned...

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