Retro Review – IN A GLASS CAGE (1985)

The atrocities of the Nazi regime have been prime fodder for horror and exploitation films since 1969 when director Lee Frost unleashed Love Camp 7. On the one hand, you have trashy “Nazisploitation” films such as Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS and Gestapo’s Last Orgy, which focus on sexual depravities and violence, and are chock full of poor taste. On the other hand, you have films such as Spanish director Agusti Villaronga’s In a Glass Cage from 1985. 

Klaus (Günter Meisner) is a doctor and ex-Nazi who used his position in concentration camps to commit appalling sex crimes against boys. Now living in Spain, he gives in once again to his desires until guilt and shame drive him to attempt suicide. He fails. Confined to an iron lung, Klaus relies on his bitter wife (Marisa Paredes) and daughter (Grisela Echevarina) to survive. That is, until Angelo (David Sust), a male nurse, arrives to help care for Klaus. But when Angelo discovers Klaus’ diary detailing his atrocities, Angelo soon reveals himself to be just as twisted and sadistic as Klaus… And who, exactly, is Angelo?

Sadism and perversion are the name of the game in In a Glass Cage. Blowing Pasolini’s Salò right out of the water, In a Glass Cage is a dark and disturbing meditation on hero-worship and how we can go too far in emulating those we look up to. Angelo idolizes Klaus and is intent on reenacting the atrocities detailed in the diary – from forcing a boy to sing before slitting his throat to injecting a child’s heart with petrol to masturbating on Klaus’ face like Klaus did to one child victim. The film is by no means graphic but it will make you flinch.

One particularly sadistic and twisted scene involves Angelo unplugging the iron lung and climbing onto Klaus’ chest in a very suggestive way as he suffocates. Angelo then proceeds to push on Klaus’ chest to help him breathe showing Klaus that he is truly at Angelo’s mercy; that Angelo can do whatever he wishes to Klaus. At first we’re rooting for Angelo to finish the job Klaus’ suicide attempt failed to do, but we soon realize that we’d only be replacing one monster with another.

The acting is top-notch all around with David Sust’s performance being a true stand out, especially given it’s his first role in a film. He brings a good blend of innocence and psychosis to the role, his demented mindset becoming more and more apparent as the film goes on. None of it feels forced or over-the-top either, thus rooting the character Angelo firmly in reality. He could be your neighbor, your friend, your child… How Sust doesn’t have a bigger career (his last acting credit, according to IMDb, was in a TV movie from 1990) is an enigma completely beyond me.

In a Glass Cage is one of the best films I’ve watched this year and is one I recommend all horror fans watch at least once (some might not be able to take more than one viewing). The film doesn’t hit a single false note and certainly blows away nine-tenths of the movies made before or since. It is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD from Cult Epics. Check it out A.S.A.P. 

About Evan Romero

Evan Romero has been a horror fan since watching “Leprechaun” at the age of five. Aside from watching and writing about horror flicks, he delights in torturing friends with Z-grade movies. He’s also an unabashed Andy Milligan fan, God help him.

Check Also

‘MIND BODY SPIRIT’ (2024) – Movie Review

Hereditary is a film that almost sent me into a panic attack in a completely …