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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.

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

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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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