Dr. Caligari (1989)

Genres - Comedy, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Horror Comedy, Parody/Spoof  |   Release Date - Jan 1, 1989 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Synopsis by Cavett Binion

Sharing little in common with Robert Wiene's expressionist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (aside from the name and a series of stills from the film during the opening titles), this brain-damaged, perverse fever dream is set in the Caligari Insane Asylum (CIA), a nightmare labyrinth of impossible angles and colors, within which the fabled mesmerist's kinky granddaughter (Madeleine Reynal) rules with an iron hand, a phallic-looking syringe, and a hot-pink PVC dress. Caligari's associates -- including a leering therapist (Fox Harris) and a clone-like doctor/nurse team -- are loonier than their own patients...and in this place, that's saying a lot. Most of the unnameable experiments taking place have to do with the doc's desire to transplant her grandfather's synaptic fluid into her own brain to acquire his genius. She also has a peculiar fascination for prize patient Mrs. Van Houten (Laura Albert), a repressed housewife with horrifying sexual fantasies involving doors with giant tongues and razor-wielding madmen. (When asked to describe her life in two words, Van Houten replies matter-of-factly, "unending torment.") Basically a catalogue of surreal, psychosexual shock images, this is the second feature from director Stephen Sayadian (aka Rinse Dream), whose porno epic Cafe Flesh also melded sci-fi themes and post-modern expressionism; this is essentially more of the same, minus the explicit sex. One wonders why he bothered.



asylum [mental hospital], experiment, granddaughter, mad-scientist, mental-illness, patient [medical], rampage, soul, transplant


Cult Film