The Mafu Cage (1978)

Lee Grant, Carol Kane, Will Geer, James Olson,
The Mafu Cage is a movie starring Lee Grant, Carol Kane, and Will Geer. Ellen, a successful astronomer, cares for her mentally-ill sister, Cissy, who keeps a variety of primates in the home they inherited from their anthropologist...
  • 6.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Don Chastain, Éric Wesphal, Writer:
  • Karen Arthur, Director:
  • Diana Young, Producer:
7 / 10

unexpected, indeed.

While perusing the 50cent rental section at the local video store, I came across "The Mafu Cage." Reading the flipside of the box led me to believe that this would simply be a run-of-the-mill 70s horror flick. However, it was hardly that; And very perversely bizarre. Cissy falls into the depths of insanity and general crackness while living with her older sister after her ape/monkey researching father dies...

Riddled with tribal music, inferred incest and a living room converted to a jungle, I'd recommend "The Mafu Cage" to any who desire a high weirdness factor in their movies.

8 / 10

Wow! Unexpected great movie!

I recently acquired a Wizard Video VHS copy of The Mafu Cage in a large lot of tapes I received. I instantly knew it looked right up my alley and interesting, so I set it aside to view later. Two nights later I popped it in the VCR...Wow! I was shocked that I had never seen or even heard of this interesting, bizarre, yet original flick. It's hard for me to say anything bad about this movie except for the fact that it seems to be a "lost" or "set aside" piece of cinema that not many have seen. (not sure if it has been released on DVD or not) Everything from the rich colors, the acting, and the story line lead to a film that seems to depress the individual as a previous review stated, haha. I personally enjoy when a movie, music or any piece of art actually makes you "feel" emotions. This is one of those movies that should not be missed or taken lightly. Carol Kane is amazing in her role as Cissy.

7 / 10

It was great in the theatre

It seems to me all reviewers refer to the DVD when reviewing the film. That's a pity. In the theatre release, which I was fortunate enough to see, the colours are warm and rich, the lighting is subdued but atmospheric, and the acting, of course, is excellent. Especially Mz Kane, who could be whining and annoying in other films but does a great job here. It would be an error to simply see this movie as a horror flick. If you do so, you will be disappointed. This is a psychological thriller that draws on our archetypical fears. It thus presents us with a highly interesting content, but also the form is interesting. The unity of space, the closedness of the oppressive interior, contribute to the feeling of unease.

1 / 10

The Sound Of Simka Screaming

Wow. This movie gave me a headache. I had seen the box for this movie in Mom & Pop video stores over the years and always wanted to rent it but never got around to it. It's now on DVD and I'm disappointed. Both by the quality of the DVD and also less than pleased with the movie itself. I think the whole premise of these gals living in a house that is part African jungle, complete with caged ape, with loud tribal music blasting and Carol Kane walking around in Afro-centric clothes complete with tribal make-up is just too surreal. Don't the neighbors MIND??? And how is the sane sister even sane having to live this way? this is explained away by the fact their father was an explorer in Africa who raised them like this. But he'd dead now. Yet they continue to live this way in "modern day" America. Well, anyway: the older sister (Lee Grant) works and watches over the younger crazy sister (Carol Kane) who plays with pet monkeys and illustrates them. When she gets mad she kills her pet monkey "MAFU!" and demands a new monkey. Like buying a new lipstick at the drug store within days a new pet monkey is provided her. Really? Can anyone order up a pet monkey and get one? Is it that easy. When not playing with (or killing) monkeys Carol also likes to play dress up, drink wine and dance around and spoon in bed with her sister. The rest of the time she's pitching a fit and screaming, screaming and screaming some more. "Mafu, Mafu, Mafu!" I swear if I ever have to hear the word "Mafu" again someones gonna get it. I respect them for trying to do something different.....but different doesn't always mean "Good". Avoid like the plague.

6 / 10

Grim and uncomfortable.

This adaptation of a play by Eric Wesphal stars Lee Grant and Carol Kane. They're cast as sisters who live in an old mansion; Kane is clearly very disturbed and is also very childlike. She pitches fits when she doesn't get her way and also resorts to emotional blackmail. Grant has a very tough time playing nursemaid to her younger sibling, but had made a promise to their dying father that she always would take care of her. When Grants' co-worker (James Olson) expresses a romantic interest in her, the thought of a man coming between them drives Kane even further into insanity.

Kane always has been a unique and remarkable performer; "eccentric" would be a kind way to put it. This independent, now somewhat obscure feature showcases her to great effect. In fact, she's all too convincing, in a role that was improvised to an extent, and which requires her to work extensively with an orangutan named Budar. Grant is no less impressive, as the kind of character that naturally earns some sympathy. It can't be easy looking after someone like Kanes' character. (Although it must be said that leaving Kane to her devices at a crucial point was a disaster waiting to happen. This viewer realizes that it's an essential part of the plot, but still doesn't exactly ring true.)

A highly engaging Will Geer, as a character named Zom, and Olson provide fine support, but "The Mafu Cage" is first and foremost a vehicle for the two talented ladies at the centre. It's also decidedly unpleasant in its psychological approach (characters take turns being victimized in the title location), and it must be said that people who take exception to animals being mistreated on film (even if the scenes had to have been simulated somehow) will want to give this film a pass.

Notable assets are the production design / set decoration (the main room of the abode has an African jungle theme), and the striking, atmospheric score composed by Roger Kellaway. This was an interesting venture for the director, Karen Arthur, who made only a few feature films over the course of her career. It even touches upon such taboo subjects as incest. Overall, it's something unusual for seekers of cinematic curiosities.

Six out of 10.