The Mafu Cage

Meshing together the Gothic leanings of Grey Gardens’ shut-in vibe and the angle of feminist power that appeared in such ‘70s genre fare as The Stepford Wives or Daughters of Darkness, this thoroughly bizarre but unforgettable slice of psychological terror sports a shockingly high-caliber cast, and an even more out-there premise. In a remote, decrepit mansion decked out like an African jungle, astronomer Lee Grant tends to her younger sister Carol Kane: a who’s been allowed to grow up without any societal restrictions. After flinging her inner rage on her pet orangutans, Kane sets her crazy-ass sights on the dude trying to woo her sister! As rad as they are, The Mafu Cage’s impossible-to-predict twists are no match for the power of Kane’s gutsy performance; after striking great supporting roles in overground fare like The Last Detail and Dog Day Afternoon, here she seizes the lead role with her teeth and runs completely wild, delivering a quiveringly mad, scary, and oddly touching turn unlike just about anything else put on film.
Dir. Karen Arthur, 1978, 35mm, 102 min.

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