In A Glass Cage – The Art Of Depravity

In A Glass Cage (Tras el cristal) 1987

Dir. Augusti Villaronga

Cult Epics

In A Glass Cage, or Tras el cristal in its native Spain, is a beautifully shot, ugly bastard of a film. It opens in a dimly lit basement where a young boy is strung up by his wrists, naked, beaten and unconscious. An older man observes him, snapping pictures, with a facial expression that suggests his thoughts are elsewhere. When the boys eyes open the man begins to caress him, rubbing his face against the boy’s. Barely alive, the boy doesn’t a make a sound as the man smashes a wooden board into the back of his head. The man makes his way onto the roof  while someone off camera enters the basement, observes the scene and picks up a journal off the floor. The man stares across the land before taking a fall. This opening scene sets the tone for the entire film – bleak and uncomfortable, yet nearly impossible to take your eyes off.

The man is Klaus (played by Mr Slugworth himself, Gunter Meisner), a former nazi who was prone to molesting, torturing and killing young boys during the war. Well it seems he decided to keep his evil activities up as a hobby after the war was over, hence the naked boy in the basement. Klaus, in an iron lung after his “accident” on the roof, lives in exile in Spain with his wife and young daughter. Griselda, his wife, is becoming more and more depressed and desperate with their situation. She needs help taking care of her invalid husband, and wishes her daughter could be at school and live the life of a normal girl her age. She writes a letter to her mother in Germany, asking to send a nurse to help with her husband. Before she can even get the letter to the post a mysterious young man shows up, saying he heard about the man’s condition and was there to be his nurse. Griselda is rightfully suspicious, but Gunter insists that the young man stays as his nurse.

The young man, Angelo, is just what Klaus needs. He shaves his face, washes him, and entertains him by jerking off while reading from Klaus’ journal from the war. Griselda meanwhile becomes increasingly suspicious and tells Angelo he must leave. In turn Angelo goes batshit crazy, kills Griselda, starts wearing Klaus’ army coat, redecorates the house with wire fence and sets furniture on fire – inside the house. That is all just icing on the depraved cake, as Angelo takes up his patient’s old habit of luring in young boys to snuff out. Klaus, being face to face with his own sick and twisted past, tries to no avail to stop Angelo, but what’s he going to do? He’s in an iron fucking lung! In all seriousness though, watching Angelo taking on the role that Klaus once held is a very disturbing thing indeed. Themes of shame, guilt, repression, abuse and perversion all run throughout.

Beneath all of the ugliness and despair, however, is a beauty that sets In A Glass Cage apart from other shock exploitation films. It’s set design and cinematography are often gorgeous, even during the most shocking of scenes. It’s this balance that keeps the viewer willing to be along for the ride, waiting to see where Angelo’s disturbed actions takes us, and what makes the film an artsploitation experience that sticks with you long after viewing it. The new high-definition transfer on Cult Epics’ recently released DVD and Blu-ray captures the dismal grey and blue color scheme quite well, and comes complete with an endorsement from über perv and shock cinema legend John Waters himself. Accompanying the film are a pair of interviews with director Augusti Villlaronga, and three of his short films. I highly recommend seeking out a copy and experiencing the film for yourself.

In A Glass Cage rates 4 out of 5 Screaming Jamies

Maniac Cop – Killer In Blue On Blu

Maniac Cop is, in my opinion, one of the most under rated horror films of the 1980s. Not only does it blend subgenres like a Magic Bullet on high-speed, it boasts one of the best line ups of genre legends in its cast and crew. Okay, try to keep up – in front of the camera we’ve got Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, neither of which need introduction here. Next we have Richard fucking Roundtree as Commissioner Pike. That’s right, Shaft himself is the HNIC of the police force! Behind the camera we have director William Lustig (Maniac, Vigilante), writer/producer Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Q the Winged Serpent), executive producer James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator) and cinematographer James Lemmo (Madman, Vigilante, Ms .45, etc). It doesn’t get much more solid than that. Maniac Cop has always held a strong cult following, but I’ve always felt it deserved more attention.

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It’s Only A T-Shirt’s Matt O’Neill Discusses ‘Patrick’, Future Designs and Sibling Pant Shitting – The Basement Screams Interview

It’s Only A T-Shirt is a new horror shirt company launched this month by Matt O’Neill based out of Melbourne, Australia. The company’s debut design, a wonderful image based on the 1978 Aussie classic Patrick, is available for pre-order now and is being printed in a strictly limited quantity of 200, each housed in a collectible VHS box package. I got pretty excited when I heard from Matt with the details so I decided to throw a couple of questions at him and see if it really is just a t-shirt.

Murphy Screams –  Being the new kid on the block in the horror shirt biz, what do you have planned to set yourself apart from the other companies that already have a strong following ?

Matt O’Neill– I’m hoping what sets us apart will be our unique packaging concepts, the fact that our Tee’s will be fully licensed, and the rarity of the item. So when you go to a horror con, you are the only person there wearing a Patrick T-shirt. I really want to evoke the artwork found on posters and VHS boxes back in the day. I also want to make it more than just a T-shirt, it’s not something you open, pull over your head and spill ice cream down. I hope they become collectors pieces.

Murphy– You said Patrick was an easy choice for your first design being an Aussie based company. Will there be a down under focus on future designs? (I’d love to see an Undead shirt!)

Matt- There will be a few Aussie flicks that get a look in for sure. We are not strictly about Aussie horror, we are looking at British, Spanish, Italian, Thai.. American everywhere! but i want to focus on films that have a small following. Everyone likes Freddy and Jason, and there are plenty of fantastic Tees out there already for those properties. I want to provide Tees for fans of  Patrick or Blood On Satan’s Claw or Raw Meat(I have my fingers crossed for a Raw Meat tee! – Murphy)

Murphy–  Can you give us an idea of what some of the next designs will be?

 Matt – I have a few on the go, and some are further along than others – the main problem is getting the rights. And I don’t mean it’s a problem as in paying for them, but rather finding out who owns some of these titles. Since some of the films are old, their production companies have long gone and it is hard to find where they now reside – but the dvd distribution company Umbrella Entertainment has been a great help in tracking down some titles. I can’t reveal the next T-shirt just yet, as I have promised that the good people who have already signed up on our pre-order list will find out first! but i can promise that it will be a ‘blood soaked’ affair.
Murphy – Are there any up and coming Australian films or directors that haven’t made it across the pond yet we should be looking out for?
Matt – There’s a guy called Cameron McCulloch who is creating some wonderful shorts at the moment, in particular ‘Home’  one to watch for sure!
Murphy –  What got you hooked on horror? What are some of your favorite films/filmmakers?
Matt – A combination of ‘Michael Jackson’s making of Thriller’ at the age of 5, and holidays to ‘Whitby’ where Dracula was conceived. After that my mum would tape horror films off the BBC that were on too late, and i would get up at 5:00 am and watch them before my little brother would wake up and shit his pants (in fear, he didn’t have a shitting pants problem… I should point that out in case he reads this…) As a result my favourite films and directors have been shaped by the classics. Terrance Fisher is my number one, along with his films Horror of Dracula, Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Devil Rides Out.  However once I moved away from the UK to Australia a whole world of titles banned in my home country were available for rent so the later part of my life has been influenced by The Exorcist, Fulci, Deodato- so I like to think that I have a well-balanced out look on the genre.
Many thanks to Matt for answering my questions. Make sure you head over and pre-order your Patrick shirt before they’re all gone, and keep your eyes peeled for future designs from It’s Only A T-Shirt… It’s Only A T-Shirt… It’s Only A T-Shirt…

‘Tis The Season For Badass Christmas Cards

Last year I kept you up to date on the animated web series Infinite Santa 8000, from the makers of Drive-In Horrorshow. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, and like your Christmas tales set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and your Santa a mutant killing, badass sonofabitch, then you owe it to yourself to check it out ASAP! I’m not sure if a second season is on the horizon or not, but there are brand new Infinite Santa 8000 Christmas cards available for all of you that want to send something original to your horror fiend family and friends this season. There are six to choose from and you can check them all out here.

Synapse Sweetens The Deal For ‘Intruder’ Fans

I just found out that the first 500 people to order a copy of the upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD combo of Intruder from Synapse will receive a very limited edition DVD-R of the film’s original work print version. This version of the film, originally known as Night Crew, contains additional and extended scenes, different editing and is without the final music and sound effects mix. These are  individually burned DVD-R’s and are taken  from director Scott Spiegel’s personal VHS copy.

“We want to give fans of the film something unique to relive the days when the only way to see the original uncut version of INTRUDER was through grey-market videocassettes, so each disc will be individually burned for the customer, with a handwritten label and individually numbered from one to five hundred,” says Don May, Jr., President of Synapse Films.  “Anyone who has already pre-ordered Synapse’s INTRUDER Blu-ray/DVD Combo will have the DVD-R shipped to them along with their order.  Once the 500 DVD-R discs are gone… they are gone.”

From what I can tell these are going very fast. The shopping cart function on Synapse’s website actually crashed yesterday due to such high traffic of people ordering Intruder! I can’t see these lasting much longer so what are you waiting for? Get it now!