|James Olson and Lee Grant|
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.