Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


James Olson and Lee Grant
THE MAFU CAGE (aka Deviation/1978). Director: Karen Arthur.

Ellen (Lee Grant) lives with her strange sister Cissy (Carol Kane of Annie Hall), who retains a love for all things African -- they once lived in Africa with their late father -- and who also seems to have incestuous feelings for her sister. Ellen is herself not too tightly wrapped, because she resists the notion of sending Cissy to a therapist for, among other reasons, her penchant for slaughtering her pet apes. Cissy, who is unraveling by the minute, chains up Ellen's boyfriend, David (James Olson of The Andromeda Strain), in the cage where the apes are kept, and you can probably guess what happens next. The Mafu Cage is a film so bad that it seems to exist in its own universe of awfulness, never coming close to a real world or even a cinematic equivalent. It just moves along, ploddingly, throwing idiotic scenes at the viewer, and providing embarrassment for all of its actors, all of whom should have known better. The film reaches its absolute nadir with its scene of poor Carol Kane exchanging sloppy mouth to mouth kisses with a champagne-guzzling orangutan. (I am not joking; this is not an old April Fool's post.)  Grant, Olson, and Will Geer [The Brotherhood of the Bell] as a friendly animal trainer all give good performances; Kane is like her character from the sitcom Taxi on uppers. The script was written by actor Don Chastain (from a play by Eric Wesphal), whose other writing credit was for an episode of As The World Turns. Karen Arthur primarily directed for television.

Verdict: Without a doubt, the worst movie Lee Grant ever appeared in. 1/2*.

NOTE: This review is part of the "Lovely Lee Grant" blogathon co-hosted by Chris of Angelman's Place and Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews


angelman66 said...

LOL, Bill, this one does seem very very odd indeed, but between your review and the one by The Oak Drive In, I must admit I have to see this! You know my weakness for terrible movies!
You are a trouper, a scholar and a gentleman for doing TWO Lee Grant films for our blogathon event---thanks so much!!

Realweegiemidget Reviews said...

As Chris says this does sound a bizarre movie choice for the cast, but I'm sure they had their reasons. Thanks though for your great honest review and bringing this to our blogathon.

William said...

Chris and Gill -- thank you so much for your comments.

I can't say it was a pleasure sitting through "The Mafu Cage," but it was a pleasure to be part of the Lovely Lee Grant Blogathon.

Chris, I know that you are going to hunt down "Mafu Cage" -- it was on youtube just a day or so ago, albeit in a murky print -- and I also know that you're going to watch out for the Carol Kane-orangutan make out scene, LOL! I mean, who can resist seeing that?

Gill, I assume the cast just wanted a paycheck. It's too bad they couldn't at least have gotten a trip to an exotic location but I believe it was all filmed in LA -- which is exotic in of itself.

I'm going to use a line that was once made in reference to Joan Crawford in regards to Grant's role in "Mafu Cage": "I am full of admiration for (in this case) Lee Grant, because even in drek like this she gives a performance."

And a good one, all in all. If only it were a better movie. Oh well.