DR CALIGARI (1989) – “The Cabaret of Dr Caligari” might make a more fitting title for Stephen Sayadian’s genre-bending Dr Caligari. Long before Dandy Dust there was this fun movie which was sort of a hybrid of Eraserhead and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with sprinklings of Liquid Sky and Repo Man. Nightmarish visuals and deranged sexuality abound.
Many IMDb reviewers trash this movie but their reviews read like they were penned by someone who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film knocking Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety as “not funny.” Just like with the Brooks movie if you’re not familiar with the cinematic styles and productions referenced in Dr Caligari then no, you won’t find it entertaining.
This movie, which is full of absurdly horrific imagery and horrifically absurd imagery is simultaneously a celebration of AND a parody of art films and silent movies – especially of the German Expressionist variety. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari kicked off that cinematic style in 1919 and we’re told that the title character of this 1989 product is the great granddaughter of THAT Dr Caligari.
Our thoroughly modern Dr Caligari is played by Madeleine Reynal, who camps it up as if she’s part robot, part dominatrix, and part corpse. The good doctor runs the Caligari Insane Asylum, or CIA (remember MK-Ultra?) She’s secretly using some of the asylum’s more hopeless patients as human guinea pigs for her horrifying experiments. Continue reading