This film is definitely one that can be described as "cult." A small time cremator, obsessed with Tibet and cleanliness, becomes a member of the Nazi party, with inevitable consequences...

The film, directed by Juraj Herz, is without doubt one of the most striking I have ever seen, as it uses cinematic tricks, such as fisheye lens, extremely quick cuts, close-ups and scenes blending into each other to create a sense of sinister bewilderment.

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This is enhanced by the performance of Rudolf Hrusinsky, as a man who undoubtedly has a love for his family, as well as strange quirks, such as visiting prostitutes and going for VD and heredity tests when he realises that the "salvation of the world" can only come about by joining the Nazi party. He also uses a comb for his own hair and that of the corpses that he tends in an early scene, foreshadowing the strangeness to come.

The sinister nature of the film is enhanced by the constant wailing female vocals on the soundtrack and the presence of a silent woman, whom only the cremator can see. It also contains marvellously surreal elements, such as a real-life waxwork model show the cremator drags his family to and the oddballs with whom he works. The fact that filming was interrupted by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia adds to the pervading sense of doom that follows the film around, right to its shocking climax.

Fans of David Lynch and horror movies with an arthouse twist will definitely appreciate this.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2006
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A family man, with a passion for prostitutes and cleanliness, sees the Nazi party as the salvation of the world.
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Director: Juraj Herz

Writer: Ladislav Fuks, Juraj Herz

Starring: Rudolf Hrusinsky, Vlasta Chramostova, Jana Stehnova, Milos Vognic, Jiri Menzel, Ilja Prachar

Year: 1968

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Czechoslovakia

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