BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Mafu Cage (1977) - Blu-ray Review

  • Movie Review

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Film Details

  • Art

The Mafu Cage (1977)

Psychological thrillers don't get any more disturbing than what goes down in the four walls of The Mafu Cage!

Ellen (Lee Grant) just can’t escape her sister, Cissy, but, boy, would she love to be rid of her.  It might just take a tribal ceremony to get it done, too!

"the whole situation is just insane. You haven’t seen anything like this cult flick"

She just wants to be left alone with her telescopes and her astronomy duties while her sister goes ape-shit at home, demanding things left and right.  The problem is that Ellen is an enabler and she is no better than her psychotic sister, always giving in to whatever insane request or tribal ceremony her sister wants to do.  Consider these deranged sisters both trapped in The Mafu Cage.  

Directed by Karen Arthur (Legacy) and based on a play by Eric Westphal, The Mafu Cage is a psychological thriller that is frighteningly bizarre thanks to a standout performance from Carol Kane as the violent, Cissy. She’s scarred by the memory of her anthropologist father and she wears tribal costumes while hypnotic percussion beats keep us completely unsettled by her every move.  She’s unpredictable and dangerous as hell. {googleads}

But Ellen made a promise to her father that she would always care for Cissy.  Cissy (Kane) lives with her; eats with her; screams at her; threatens her; and limits all of Ellen’s  social engagements, preferring to lie naked with Ellen just stroking her breasts.  The two women are absolutely intertwined and it isn’t a good thing for either.  But that’s what you get with incestuous sisters living together in a Hollywood mansion that is falling apart around them.

From the sounds of the jungle constantly pumping through the speakers to the shouting of Cissy, the whole situation is just insane.  You haven’t seen anything like this cult flick.

And I haven’t even mentioned Cissy’s collection of chimpanzees.  It’s another of her suicidal demands.  She calls them Mafus and, in Ellen’s living room (which is essentially a cage), is where she lives with them, allowing them to live and be her play friend until they piss her off.  They often do as she is extremely protective of all her daddy’s things, which they always mess with, and due to her extreme anger, she winds up beating them to death.  The Mafu Cage (1977)

Yes, Cissy is extremely psychotic.  She’s unstable, prone to wild mood swings, and - living in tribal gear (complete with face markings) - she is essentially Ellen’s pet.  It’s a damaged relationship that doesn’t hold up to the light of day, but their secrets are about to be found out thanks to Ellen’s desires for her co-worker David (James Olson).

Partially filmed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, The Mafu Cage is what happens when sisters get jealous of each other.  Sheer barbarism at its finest.  Complete with an atmospheric score from Roger Kellaway, The Mafu Cage arrives on blu-ray courtesy of a brand-new 2K scan of the original interpositive from Scorpion Releasing.

Rattle those chains and let the horrific death rituals begin again!

4/5 stars

The Mafu Cage (1977)


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing
Available on Blu-ray
- June 19, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Minted from the recently found original interpositive, The Mafu Cage arrives just in time to turn the heat up on summer.  Academy Award winner Lee Grant stars with Academy Award nominee Carol Kane in this psychological thriller directed by Emmy winner Karen Arthur. Cissy (Kane) and Ellen (Grant) are daughters of a deceased African primatologist who kept wild animals in a cage in his living room. Mentally unbalanced, Cissy virtually lives in this exotic 'Mafu Cage', crowded with hothouse plants and strange African artifacts. Ellen is obsessed with the care of Cissy and must keep a constant watch on her sister's unpredictable personality. When Ellen's co-worker, David (James Olson), begins making romantic advances towards Ellen, Cissy believes the man poses a threat to the sisters' relationship. The disturbed Cissy ensnares David in the Mafu Cage and subjects him to a series of horrific, and deadly rituals!


Presented in a crisp 1080p transfer, The Mafu Cage is all about clean lines, white backgrounds, and a whole bunch of tribal trappings.  Black levels are unwavering and the images in the collapsing mansion are intense, crisp and crackling with details.  The film is dominated with reds and cool blues that absolutely burst with color.  The clothes are detailed and the backgrounds burst with new details and a nice level of clarity.  Black levels are solid and skin tones are natural.  Shadows are defined and the film has a new depth previously unseen.  


Audio wise, the DTS-HD MA soundtrack is clear and the dialogue is never lost or hard to hear and that tribal-themed soundtrack is blistering with chaos!



  • There are two new commentaries included with this release: one with director Karen Arthur and another with cinematographer John Bailey and editor Carol Littleton.  Both are quality with Arthur’s being a bit less technical than the cinematographer and the editor’s commentary.

Special Features:

Scorpion Releasing loads The Mafu Cage with a new interview with composer Roger Kellaway, and existing interviews about the movie with Carol Kane, Lee Grant, Karen Arthur, John Bailey and Carol Littleton.  There is also a Still Gallery and Reversible Artwork included in the release.

  • Brand-New On Camera Interview with Roger Kellaway
  • Cissy and her Clouds: An Interview with Carol Kane
  • Solar Flare: An Interview with Lee Grant
  • Visions of Clouds: An Interview with Karen Arthur
  • Extensive Still Gallery

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars


The Mafu Cage (1977)

MPAA Rating: R.
102 mins
: Karen Arthur
Don Chastain
Lee Grant, Carol Kane, Will Geer
: Drama | Horror
A Terrifying Love Story.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:

Official Site:
Release Date:
September 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 19, 2019.
Synopsis: Ellen has been taking care of her insane younger sister Cissy ever since their explorer father died. When Cissy's pet ape dies in their mansion's dungeon and Ellen finds a boyfriend, Cissy's incestuous desire for her sister turns deadly.


The Mafu Cage (1977)

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes