Lunacy begins with an homage to the introduction of James Whales' Frankenstein, in which Edward van Sloan appears on a stage and warns us, the audience members: "I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even...horrify you..." Here, director Jan Svankmajer appears on screen and offers a much lower appraisal of his own work: "What you're about to see is a horror film. It is not a work of art. Today, art is all but dead anyway." After watching his film, I may be inclined to agree. Lunacy is a fascinating, confusing and ultimately head-spinning mash-up of some minor Edgar Allen Poe and the hedonist excess 'philosophy' of the Marquis de Sade, all bundled together in a film that seems to have been lensed around 1974.
I'm drumming my fingers on the keyboard to think of a way to describe the film's other key element -- meat. Lots of meat. Slabs of uncooked steak, created in stop-motion animation, appear every five minutes or so in this picture. We cut to them, jiggling and dancing like the "Let's All Go to the Lobby" hot dogs in movie concession ads, backed by calliope music. Apparently, the director felt he needed this to hammer home the 'We Are Nothing But Meat' message he was trying to convey, in case we didn't get it from the scene in which the Marquis' dinner guests are ritually fellated by girls with mouths full of chocolate cake.