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Spatulater bro!
Aug 19, 2003

Punch! Punch! Punch!





The Cremator
1969
Directed by Juraj Herz



The Cremator is a 1969 Czechoslovakian horror film about a suave, sophisticated cremator in the 1930s who thinks death is the perfect remedy for one's pain and suffering. That's all I'm going to say about the story, as knowing as little as possible going in will only benefit you. What I will talk about is how incredibly unique this film is. It's shot in a style that, truly, I've never exactly seen before. There's a tinge of French New Wave-iness to it, but it's mixed with some of the most interesting editing techniques I've seen. For instance, the main character will be in a conversation with someone. It will cut to a closeup of his face as he speaks a response, but then the camera pulls back to reveal that we're already in a new scene in a new location with different characters. And that's just one of many cinematographic tricks this movie has up its sleeve. I've never seen anything like this.



But the most outstanding part of this film is Rudolf Hrušínský who plays the titular cremator. He has one of those faces that can look innocent and charming - almost boyish - one second, and then stunningly sinister the next. His delicate mannerisms and calm speaking voice make the underlying evil even more poignant. It's no exaggeration when I say he's one of the most fascinating horror characters of all time.

Jonathan Romney from Film Comment posted:

Throughout, the film is dominated by the remarkable performance—and remarkable all-round presence—of Hrusinsky, an actor also known for a more benignly satirical lead role in the 1957 film The Good Soldier Schwejk and for several appearances in the films of Jiri Menzel (who also appears here as an actor). Hrusinsky’s moon-faced plumpness and fussy elegance are wonderfully sinister, especially when Milota’s camera gets close up on Kopfrkingl’s perpetually greasy little gourmand’s mouth. His character is dandyish in his solemn way, and one of his mannerisms is utterly chilling in its throwaway discretion: he’ll gently comb the hair of one dead body or another, then almost forgetfully draw the same comb across his own forelock, swept greasily across his brow.



Jonathan Romney from Film Comment posted:

Richly crammed with macabre and mesmerizing imagery (Shining-like twins, even a brief boxing match that anticipates some of the kinetic effects of Raging Bull), The Cremator is a horror film all the more disturbing for its mock-genteel tone, although it gets nastier and more shocking as it goes along. It’s also a scabrously lucid satire about the way that bourgeois respectability erodes moral consciousness.



This is a stunning movie with lots of layers to peel away. It's a pitch black comedy with moral, philosophical and political undertones running through its veins. But at its core it's a horror movie about the deepest evils of which humans are capable, with a protagonist that would make Hannibal Lecter squirm.



Go watch this. Right now. It’s currently streaming on The Criterion Channel, and it’s available on Blu-ray from Criterion.

Previous Movies of the Month

Spatulater bro! fucked around with this message at 19:20 on Apr 30, 2021

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Popelmon
Jan 24, 2010

wow
so spin


gently caress yeah, I watched this movie in 2019 for the October Horror Challenge and I absolutely loved it. The camera and editing are out of this world and Rudolf Hrušínský gives one of the best performances as an actor of all time.

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD
Sep 14, 2007

everything is yours


This movie is an absolute must watch. In fact I think I might throw it on tonight.

twernt
Mar 11, 2003

Whoa whoa wait, time out.


This was a great pick! I watched this for the 1969 slot in my May Challenge list and I was blown away by it.

Spatulater bro!
Aug 19, 2003

Punch! Punch! Punch!



twernt posted:

This was a great pick! I watched this for the 1969 slot in my May Challenge list and I was blown away by it.

Glad to hear it! Everyone I know of who's seen it has loved it. It's a movie that needs to be on more people's radar because it's just so drat good.

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The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Quoting myself from the May Challenge thread:

The Berzerker posted:

What an amazing film. Rudolf Hrušínský gives an incredible performance as Karel Kopfrkingl, a man who runs a crematorium in late 1930s Czechoslovakia. Karel has an interest in Buddhism and believes that cremation helps speed people along into reincarnation over traditional burial, and liberates their souls. He meets Reinke, an Austrian, who wants to sway Karel's political affiliation. I won't say more about the plot, but it's an excellent story - certainly a horror, but also funny (Karel choosing a sex worker who looks exactly like his wife, played by the same actor, is a hoot) and shows some incredible technique - the camera work in the boxing match, the way Herz zooms in for a close-up and zooms out to find us in a different scene, etc. all feel very modern and slick. More than anything else though is Rudolf Hrušínský, he can play slimy and scary and weird-but-charming very well and does so many subtle things I stopped noting them (but here's one: at the carnival wax museum, the way his expression changes when the barker says that one victim committed suicide because he had the plague - "He died rather than contaminate others" - tells you so much). This is an underrated absolute banger of a film that I can't wait to watch again.

Only knew of this movie because of this thread, and so glad I got to watch it.

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