Cremator (Spalovac Mrtvol)

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 6


Audience Score

User Ratings: 921
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Movie Info

A Czechoslovakian man who loves working at his crematorium begins to take the advice of an old war buddy concerning the importance of his German heritage and the issue of his half Jewish wife.


Critic Reviews for Cremator (Spalovac Mrtvol)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (3)

  • Herz practiced a surrealism that is bare of whimsy and armed with aggression; one image splinters into the next, and, in the opening scene, full of caged beasts, you feel the prowling presence of Kafka.

    Jul 29, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Kopfrkingl himself, played by Rudolf Hrusinky, with the face of a gently demonic Charles Laughton and the manner of a malevolent Herbert Marshall, is a creation of considerable interest.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • While it's a bit programmatic for my taste, this 1968 black comedy in black and white is undeniably creepy -- once director Juraj Herz enters the fractured mind of his protagonist, he refuses to budge.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • The Cremator is essential viewing if you're a lover of morbid black comedy, the kind of cinema that lies on the delicate border between horror and social satire.

    Aug 9, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Not only is it an immensely entertaining movie, it's a work of art that should be on the list of anyone looking to understand filmmaking and cinematography.

    Dec 14, 2017 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…
  • Assustador estudo sobre a moralidade humana, este clássico tcheco conta com uma montagem fascinante e com uma atuação impecavelmente sombria de Hrusinský.

    Jun 21, 2006 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for Cremator (Spalovac Mrtvol)

  • Jul 12, 2014
    <i>The Cremator</i> is a two-layered experience of immense depth, let alone one of the counted films in history that can be called "ahead of its time". With a staggering cinematography, the most memorable male character in the Czech New Wave, a neo-noir ambience, an hypnotic directing, a terrifying score, and probably a leading performance that deserves to be held as one of the best in cinema history, <i>The Cremator</i> is an unapologetic downward spiral to delusional madness of a man that strongly believes in the purifying power of cremation and the metaphysical advantages provided by premature death in order to stop human suffering. The presence of this intellectual personage is so imposing, that the rest of the characters around him seem like defenseless puppets, including Jirí Menzel himself. His physiognomy correlates in a shocking way with his indecipherable intentions. The scenarios, paintings and architecture dance around his macabre deeds and communicate ominous statements waiting to be revealed. His whole fictional trademark personality precedes an important number of antagonists in cinema, especially those having "intellectual" and "artistic" inclinations to politics and artforms to disguise their own existential banalities addressed with fundamentalisms. Think of him as the grandfather of many, including Patrick Bateman in <i>American Psycho</i> (2000), but infinitely more ambbitious. On the other hand, you have a tremendous political subtext as the German troops have arrived to the Czech border. With the advice of his friend, Kopfrkingl is now considering the importance of his possible German heritage and the issue of his partial Jewish life. This was the volatile component in the cremator's mentality to unleash a paranoiac divine mission that pushes him to execute a permanent task during his stay on this earth while proclaiming the upcoming new order that he felt was about to be established by the Führer. Far from clichéd, this is extremely original and quite horrifying, even as a subtext. With a Svankmajer editing, the film uses landscapes, attrezzos, mansions, horror stories told with wax figures, images of suffering and in-house locations to conduct an unprecedented operatic nightmare of unspeakable psychological proportions. With nothing left to say, the status of this film is of the highest quality among international cinema, of any decade, of any place. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 01, 2013
    A bleak Czechoslovakian drama, The Cremator is atmospheric and creepy, although it seems like a stretch to call it a horror film. It's about Karl Kopfrkingl (good luck pronouncing that), a death-obsessed sociopath who cremates dead bodies for a living in 1930s Czechoslovakia, just as the Nazis begin to take over the country. After a Nazi convinces Kopfrkingl that he is German and it's his duty to aid in "purifying" Czechoslovakia, Kopfrkingl takes the Nazi philosophy as his own and becomes increasingly delusional as he inches towards the edge of sanity. Its eerie atmosphere stems largely from the lead actor's performance (which I'm omitting because I can only spell so many Czech names in one paragraph) and the very unique cinematography full of close-up shots and quick cuts. The camera work lets you into the mind of the very impressionable and unstable protagonist, and it definitely makes the entire movie much more entertaining. That said, the movie is more or less a drama up until the last twenty or thirty minutes, so those expecting a scary movie in the traditional sense are in for a let down. Still, it's a strange and interesting foreign movie with a hefty amount of commentary on Nazism (if you're into that sort of thing) and the fantastic cinematography and acting make it well-made, if not entirely engaging all the time.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 05, 2012
    Good manners, tidiness, or healthy abstinence are perfect, at first, to conceal a growing psychopathy. From Kafka's land comes this bizarre and engaging study of man obsessed with death, mainly because he works as a funeral director and passionately reads the tibetan book of the dead. With all that strange things rambling in his mind, the rise of nazism presents itself as the perfect oportunity for him to unleash his fantasies. The most attractive element of the picture is the mise en scene, the constant use of deep focus, hand held camera and dutch tilt succesfully materializes an unnerving and nightmarish atmosphere reminiscent of Welles' The Trial or Bergman's Hour of the wolf.
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2010
    Damn, this movie is fucking creepy as hell.. and the lead actor really scared the shit out of me. Totally underrated.
    Cita W Super Reviewer

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