53 user 64 critic

Anguish (1987)

Angustia (original title)
A controlling mother uses telepathic powers to send her middle-aged son on a killing spree.


Bigas Luna


Bigas Luna (screenplay), Michael Berlin (dialogue)
5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Zelda Rubinstein ... Mother
Michael Lerner ... John
Talia Paul Talia Paul ... Patty
Àngel Jové Àngel Jové ... Killer (as Angel Jove)
Clara Pastor Clara Pastor ... Linda
Isabel García Lorca Isabel García Lorca ... Caroline (as Isabel Garcia Lorca)
Nat Baker Nat Baker ... Teaching Doctor - Old Movie
Edward Ledden Edward Ledden ... Doctor - Old Movie
Gustavo Gili Gustavo Gili ... Student 1 - Old Movie
Antonio Regueiro Antonio Regueiro ... Student 2 - Old Movie
Joaquín Ribas Joaquín Ribas ... Student 3 - Old Movie
Janet Porter Janet Porter ... Laboratory Nurse - Old Movie
Patrice Manget Patrice Manget ... Nurse at Clinic - Old Movie
Merche Gascón Merche Gascón ... Nurse at Clinic - Old Movie
Jose M. Chucarro Jose M. Chucarro ... Caroline's Boyfriend - Old Movie (as Jose M.ª Chucarro)


A film-within-a-film thriller about two teen girls among a small group of people who are terrorized in a movie theater by a killer while watching a horror film about a murderous optometrist who stalks his victims in a movie theater in the film. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The eyes of the city are mine.


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Body count: 14. See more »


[last lines]
John Pressman: [to Patty] Like the doctor said, it's all in your imagination. I really don't exist.
See more »

Crazy Credits

When the film ends, we suddenly see the credits scrolling up on a completely different movie screen, together with another completely different cinema audience of onlookers observing it before getting up and leaving one by one until the final onlookers stand up and walk to the left with the screen going black as he/she does so (implying that the real storyline was also yet another film within film). See more »


References Death Wish 3 (1985) See more »


Performed by Cecil Milner
Published by KPM Music Library
See more »

User Reviews

Not quite brilliant, but highly original and inventive
19 May 2008 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

After seeing Anguish, I know it will stay in the memory a while as it's not quite like anything else I've seen. However, outside of the central gimmick; there is unfortunately not a great deal to recommend it for. Bigas Luna's film is a horror movie within a horror movie, and as you can probably imagine from that description; it's a completely bizarre and surreal film. The title 'Anguish' seems to be a clue to the order of the day as both segments focus on putting the subjects in a state of anguish with a series of gripping occurrences. The film focuses on John Pressman; an optician with an eye problem and a strange mother. After losing his job, he goes out on a killing spree under the direction of his mother who apparently is using some sort of hypnosis. The spree goes on for a short while and then the film takes a turn for the bizarre as the focus pans out and we find ourselves in a movie theatre with a group of people watching the film we've been watching! However, it turns out all is not well there either, as one of the crowd is a maniacal killer.

The main problem I have with this film is simply that while the central idea is very good, the two segments of the story are actually quite mundane. They're both just your average 'serial killer' stories, albeit one featuring a great deal of eyeball violence. The director clearly wanted to excite his audience and get them on the edge of their seats, and while parts of the film are exciting - I didn't find myself in a state of anguish for the duration. I don't often find myself needing a particular point when it comes to serial killer flicks, but this film just feels a bit too intelligent not to have one. I can only assume that the director wanted to portray something along the lines of the idea that a potential killer could be influenced by what they are seeing on screen; although it's never really brought across. Distinctive performers Michael Lerner and Zelda Rubinstein are the pick of the cast and provide memorable leads. The film does deserve a lot of respect for going out and trying to do something a bit different and even though it doesn't come off as well as it might have; Anguish is still well worth seeing.

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Spanish | English

Release Date:

8 January 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Anguish See more »

Filming Locations:

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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