Leave your inhibitions at the door!
This is one of the most interesting remakes of the 1920 grand-father of mind-fucks. Saturated colors have replaced the high contrasts of the original, but the photo is just as singular. Dr. Caligari’s grand-daughter is antagonized and depicted as a vicious dominatrix, here. She is a mistress of the body and mind, which makes her the ideal villain in dealing both physical and mental damage.
We’re now in full fantasy mode and redefining expressionism. This 1989 oddity is a tapestry of dark deviances. It has the qualities of a BDSM cult favorite in that it is sexually arousing yet infused with fear. It is provoking, shocking, but it is first and foremost a beautiful film made the way David Cronenberg and David Lynch would: with surreal pulp and a supernatural embodiment of kinks.
The actors give it all they have. Their delivery is theatrical as it once was and needed to be. The set designs stand out when not poorly bathing in black. The film looks cheap in parts, but, as a hybrid between terror and contemporary scene art, it should impress the right niches. As shocking as Dr. Caligari may be, it holds the original material in high regard and hits many familiar notes.