Spalovac Mrtvol (The Cremator) Reviews
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, The Cremator 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 JirÝ 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 American Psycho (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 FŘhrer. Far from clichÚd, 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.
Kopfrkingl got the full camera attention every second of the film. The film shares his sadistic thoughts, reveals his gradually developing madness along with his tainted logic through a time to time monologue from him from the beginning to end. This is one of those rare psychological horror features where the audience senses it all the way with a hallucinatory & morbid touch in its every reel.
Though billed as partly a black comedy, this creepy Czech classic is just a bit too uncomfortable and surreal to truly meet that label. Made in the golden decade of Psycho, Repulsion and Carnival of Souls, The Cremator remains unlike any movie you have ever seen before. It's slow, deliberate and genuinely horrifying where the black and white cinematography is haunting but beautiful; musical score is enthralling and aesthetically intriguing.
The Cremator brilliantly captures the political horror of 1930s Europe & the Holocaust as it takes over from within and makes monsters of the most boringly normal of men. This is a brutally real pure horror and along with the director Juraj Herz, all the credit also goes to the actor (Rudolf Hrusinsky) who magnificently played the lead role...a performance that accurately and metaphorically fills the screen, an upsetting portrayal of a deceiving and psychotic character that steadily become occupied with Nazi political dogma.