Sardu, master of the Theatre of the Macabre, and his assistant Ralphus run a show in which, under the guise of 'magic', they torture and murder people in front of their audience. But what the punters see as a trick is actually real.
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Florian Koerner von Gustorf,
In New York's Soho district, the master of ceremonies Sardu runs the Theater of the Macabre, which specializes in acts where people are tortured and dismembered. The audiences dismiss it as fakery but the gore is real. Behind the scenes, Sardu and his dwarf assistant Ralphus torture and mutilate women for their own pleasure, as well as sell girls they have abducted into slavery. When the critic Creasy Silo contemptuously dismisses the show, Sardu has him abducted and tortured. At the same time, Sardu also abducts the ballerina Natasha Di Natalie and determines to break her will in order to make her agree to perform in his new show.Written by
As the title of my review states, this film is only worth checking out for historical value: it is considered by many to be a cult classic and by many others to be one of the worst films ever made. Personally, I consider it to be one of the most depraved films I have ever seen.
While I did not find it particularly disturbing, having seen (and liked) such films as Miike's Audition or Visitor Q, the friend with whom I watched this very nearly had me turn it off, and he has seen his fair share of horrors. What particularly disturbed him was the lack of campiness in the movie.
While many horror films make use of eroticism and nudity, this film most certainly takes it too far, if one holds films to any moral standards. I am sure there are some women who might enjoy this movie, but I cannot imagine there are many. The nudity itself probably wouldn't be a problem, but couple that with intense sadism and the film can rightly be considered misogynistic. The characters enjoy causing pain and humiliation to women and the film seems to join them. Though I looked for it, I could find no real social or political commentary in the film. Nor does it reveal any psychological motivations for the characters' actions. They perform them because, simply, they enjoy them. It is the same with this film: it engages in this degradation for its own gratification.
The perverseness of the characters, particularly of Sardu (Seamus O'Brien), was played a bit too realistically, despite several attempts at humor, and the acting in general was about what one would expect of a low-budget 70's horror movie: bad. The special effects are not terrible, but they pale in comparison to anything relatively modern.
If you are interested in the history of horror films, or if you're just as depraved as Sardu, you may want to check out this film, otherwise I recommend staying away.
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