Dr. Caligari

Director: Stephen Sayadin                      
Fox Harris, Madeleine Reynal, Laura Albert

Note: As you may recall from my last review (Didn't You Hear), I stated at the end of that review that I needed a vacation after doing so much typing and note-taking. Coincidentally, at the same time I was finishing writing that review, my friend Michael Sullivan offered to write a guest review for The Unknown Movies. Keeping in mind my exhaustion, realizing that I'd been writing reviews for this page non-stop since the end of May 1998, and being in shock because NOT ONE PERSON RESPONDED TO ALL THE WORK I DID ON THAT REVIEW OF DIDN'T YOU HEAR! Was all my work for nothing?!?!?!? Please, someone tell me they liked it!......Anyway, I figured I'd give myself a half-holiday and just write one of the two movies appearing this week. Next week, things will return to normal.

Now, on with the review!

By Michael Sullivan

Stephen Sayadian will probably go down in history as one of the few directors who almost legitimized porn. His film Cafe Flesh was a bizarre, arty film that was also a huge crossover hit that showed audiences that porn wasn't just for the raincoat crowd anymore. But Sayadian tossed any chance of legitimizing porn down the toilet by making standard (albeit weird) bishop-wacking fare.

By 1989, he wrote and directed this unbelievably weird non-porn Dr. Caligari remake. But this film is as much a remake of that silent classic as The Black Gestapo is a remake of Othello. The only similarity between the two films is that the stars of both films have characters named Caligari in them. The "plot" is loosely based around Dr. Caligari (Madeleine Reynal), who is using two of her recent patients as guinea pigs in a mind-switching experiment. Patient #1 is Mrs. Van Houten (Laura Albert), a psychotic nymphomaniac who says lines like, "My feelings are like filthy prayers. I want to scream in your face". Patient #2 is Gus Pratt (John Durbin), a freakish cannibal who likes to get electrocuted because he puts needles in his "pokey globes". Fox Harris is all for these experiments until the end, when he turns into a grotesque Marilyn Monroe impersonator with an unnatural obsession over Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.

If all the above sounds strange, it gets even weirder. Everybody acts in an overly theatrical manner. The sets are pure German expressionism, but with an ugly neon-80's twist. Characters sometimes glide in and out of a room while wearing either pink or yellow clothes. There's a bleeding cake, a man in a kewpie doll mask wielding a straight razor, sunflowers suddenly growing for no reason, people eating sheeps' legs, a gigantic tongue, a penile-like arm, and much much more.

Much like 99 and 44/100% Dead, if you hate incoherent pretentious movies, then don't pick up this film, because it will be an utter nightmare for you. But if you're like me, and love to watch films that are like bad acid trips, I highly recommend you search this film out.

Until next time, I know you're watching me!

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Fantasy Mission Force, The Resurrected, Bridge Of Dragons