The Cavern | Chicago Reader

The Cavern

This chilling nihilist allegory (1966) was Edgar G. Ulmer's last film. During World War II, seven people are trapped in an underground munitions dump when a retreating army blows up the entrance to prevent looting. The cavern, honeycombed by treacherous, circuitous passageways, becomes a sublimely blunt image of the Ulmer universe of imprisonment and paralysis, while the characters vainly try to hold on to the rhythms and empty rituals of everyday life. There's a Christmas dinner, followed by a reading of Genesis that echoes absurdly among primordial stalactites. Dramatically, it's Ulmer's most fully realized film, though the imagery is not as bizarrely inventive as that of his 40s work. With John Saxon, Rosanna Schiaffino, Larry Hagman, Peter Marshall, and Brian Aherne. 94 min.

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