Most remakes of illustrious movies try to recapture the spirit of the original, and most fail. Dr. Caligari is something else altogether. This unbuttoned comedy takes little more from the original Cabinet of Dr. Caligari than a name, a kernel of plot, and a taste for flamboyant visual effects. The result is something fresh, unabashedly campy, and frantically funny.
The 1919 original, widely available on tape, has the power-crazed scientist Caligari turning a mental patient into a serial killer. Now meet Dr. Caligari’s alleged granddaughter (Madeleine Reynal), and relish her depraved indifference as she carries on the family tradition-shoving hypodermics into foreheads, turning a hapless male patient (Fox Harris) into a woman. Stephen Sayadian’s modern Caligari owes more to David Lynch, John Waters, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show than to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Thanks in part to its refusal to wear out its welcome, the remade Caligari is a newly minted cult classic. A real find. A