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quietearth [Celluloid 03.31.09] movie review horror

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Year: 1969
Directors: Juraj Herz
Writers: Juraj Herz & Ladislav Fuks
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: quietearth
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Cremator is not for your average horror fan. It's for cinephiles and those who love weird films as it doesn't fit into the horror category directly, it takes a much longer and more existential route. First appearances belie the very nature of the film, that our very creepy main character Kopfrkingl has something going on right from the beginning, and he may, but not in the way that is obliquely suggested. For the long ride taken with Kopfrkingl and the countless devious deviations, this film works out like a cross between Hitchcock and the kind of Twilight Zone they wouldn't let Rod Serling air. It's a little hard to follow and confusing at points, but if you pay attention and are patient, you will be rewarded.


I say the film is confusing for many reasons, firstly because it defies convention. Kopfrkingl has a wife and two children, and while charming at points his manner is just plain unnerving. He works in a crematorium and will idly comb the hair of the dead, then his own. He continues to do this with his own family members. He has a concrete view of the world, as solid as his confidence. He adores Tibet and believes in reincarnation and frequently wonders what some animal or person will come back as. He regularly sees a prostitute which looks exactly like his wife. And he always looks like he is hiding something. This is Kopfrkingl, a loving husband and father, creepy as hell, and constantly talking.

All of this is set to some fantastic music, somthing akin to opera, and cinematography that won awards when it played the fest circuit. The camera angles are odd at times, showing a portion of the face, the lower half, a forehead, or as seen through a mirror. The transitions through many parts of the film are sometimes seamless: Kopfrkingl will be discussing something about blood, the camera zooms in, and when it zooms out he's in the doctors office on the same dialog. At other points these were jarring as if the dialog had nothing to do with the move from one scene to another causing utter confusion.

This cinematography and our character together make up the bulk of the film, rolling from one situation to another leaving you wondering what is coming. Sadly, I can't give away any tidbit as to what direction it does otherwise it would completely ruin the fantastic ending. This definitely falls under the cult film category, and while the beginning is scatter-brained, I would recommend it.

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Cyberhal (5 years ago) Reply

I'm ordering this one up.

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SmartK8 (4 years ago) Reply

My favorite movie, it's powerful and also creepy as hell. The creepiest thing is that such character could exist, he's the most unlikable one, but it's the mix of philosophical truth, and moral deformation. The camera angles are depressing. An atmosphere is also getting more thick with every frame. A jewel.


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