In a Glass Cage Blu-ray Review

Written by TGM

Blu-ray released by Cult Epics

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Written & directed by Augusti Villaronga

1987, Region A, 112 minutes, Not Rated

Blu-ray released on November 8th, 2011

Günter Meisner as Klaus
David Sust as Angelo
Marisa Paredes as Griselda
Gisèle Echevarría as Rena (as Gisèla Echevarría)
Imma Colomer as Jornalera
Josue Guasch as Niño Cantior
David Cuspinera as Niño Barracon
Ricardo Carcelero as Angelo Niño
Alberto Manzano as Niño Gitano

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In A Glass Cage begins with the attempted suicide of Klaus, a former Penn State coach, err Nazi, with a penchant for molesting, torturing, and killing little boys. In a rare moment of guilt and remorse, he swan dives off of the roof of his palatial estate.   Klaus survives the fall, but is now completely paralyzed from the neck down, requiring an iron-lung (think: a steam-punked glass-walled torpedo) to breathe and caretakers to wash his funky undercarriage.   Enter Angelo, a young man with ulterior motives who applies for the job as Klaus’ personal assistant.  It becomes clear fairly quickly that Angelo has a rather unhealthy interest in the old man’s prior demented lifestyle.  After quickly dispatching Klaus’ wife and maid, Angelo is left alone to perform such pleasant acts as ejaculating on Klaus’ helpless face, corralling young choirboys to seduce then murder in front of the immobilized pedophile, dry humping his iron-lung container, intermittently unplugging the breathing apparatus to invoke occasional bouts of suffocation, and verbally abusing Klaus’ preteen daughter.

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This perverse symbiotic relationship eventually culminates in a reveal that, while not surprising in the least, is still disturbingly effective.  The biggest problem here, degenerate subject matter aside, is that In A Glass Cage is a difficult movie to embrace, primarily because it is devoid of any likeable characters.  Obviously Klaus is a monster who deserves his eventual comeuppance.  Angelo, regardless of the awful circumstances that ultimately lead him there, evolves to become equally as offensive. Klaus’ wife is a shrill, cold woman, and the daughter acts as nothing more than a punching bag for everyone in the house.  There is nobody to root for here.  In A Glass Cage is the epitome of art-house horror, where there are no heroes, just varying shades of villainy.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a good film.  It is.  It’s just not very entertaining.  You will find yourself sitting there while the constant depravity washes over you like wave after wave of oppressive heat from sitting too close to that roaring wood stove. Interestingly enough, for all of its wicked plot points, it is surprisingly inoffensive in regards to what is actually shown on screen. The ideas may be perverse, but the visual presentation is innocently restrained.  Some are inclined to lump In A Glass Cage with Salo (or the 120 Days of Sodom), which is not only an inaccurate comparison, but also does extreme injustice to both movies. Salo is much more visceral, existing to shock and repulse you with all of the precision of a sledgehammer, while In A Glass Cage will gnaw away at your psyche at a more cerebral level, like having your brain slowly eaten away by undiagnosed syphilis. While it is highly unlikely you’ll ever voluntarily choose to re-watch In A Glass Cage, you will certainly never forget the initial experience.

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Video and Audio:

Despite being a drastic improvement over Cult Epic’s earlier DVD release, the Blu-ray transfer does still look generally soft without the crisp and clean appearance one usually expects from a well put-together high definition experience.  The blacks are not as deep as one would hope, either.

The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack is admirable.  The incessant sound of the respirator from the iron-lung is wonderfully unsettling, and almost becomes its own crucial character in the film.

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Special Features:

There is an abundance of extras to this release totaling more than two hours of additional material.  An insightful interview with writer/director Augusti Villaronga and the inclusion of three of his earlier short films are certainly the highlights.

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