The Mafu Cage

The Mafu Cage ★★★

A female led powerhouse of a psychological thriller that seems ahead of it’s time - this adaptation of the play of the same name by Eric Wesphal is a hidden gem that has been overlooked for years and has only been recently been released by Kino Lorber. Part Horror / Part Drama - this deconstruction of a family through lies, abuse and mental illness is a must see for fans of 1970’s avant grade cinema.

Sisters Ellen (played by Lee Grant) and Cissy (played masterfully by Carol Kane) have been living in their dead father’s mansion since his death. A former anthropologist who collected various forms of wildlife including an ape that Cissy refers to as “MAFU” - the two sisters crumbling relationship and mental states are represented in the decaying state of the lofty mansion. Ellen is an astronomer that is trying to lead a normal life of work, love and play - while Cissy appears to be in a state of arrested development - living her life as she did as a child in the wilds of Africa- wearing tribal garbs, ceremonial paints and tattoos, and performing rituals that she learned in her youth. Knowing that Cissy can’t be left on her own, the resentment Ellen shows her begins to manifest in violence and abuse within the household. As Cissy falls deeper into mental breakdown - the lives of everyone involved with the sisters are placed in danger - resulting in tragedy.

Director Karen Arthur had a successful television career after this film, but the suspense and uncomfortable tone she sets on this film are enhanced by the amazingly disturbed performance of Carol Kane as Cissy. She is a “RAW” human that is always on the edge of turning “Feral”. While the film is still considered obscure - there is no denying the amazing talent from all ends of the spectrum that brought this film to life. Check it out!