The main plot involves Dr. Caligari's experiments with her patients at the C.I.A (Caligari Insane Asylum), where she transfers glandular brain fluids from one patient to another. Two of her main patients, Mr. Pratt, a cannibalistic serial killer, and Mrs. Van Houten, a nymphomanical housewife, are the primary subjects of her mindswapping. Mrs. Van Houten becomes the cannibal and Mr. Pratt the nymphomaniac, although they seem to still retain some elements of themselves as well. Apparently, Caligari's unconventional idea is to cure people by introducing equally opposite traits to balance out disturbed minds, but this is never explicitly stated in the film.
Several other doctors, a married couple (Mr and Mrs Lodger) become concerned with Caligari's experiments and approach Mrs. Lodger's father, Dr. Avol, who confronts Caligari only to fall victim to her mindswapping and receive an injection of Mrs. Van Houten's brain fluid, turning him into a transvestite nymphomaniac. Sex is a prominent theme throughout the movie, especially for Mrs. Van Houten, who appears topless and performs masturbation at several points, but there are no hardcore scenes, as this was released as an R-rated feature. By the end of the film, Mrs. Van Houten has injected Dr. Caligari with her own nymphomaniacal brain fluid and herself with Caligari's ancestor's (the original Dr. Caligari from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari); thus the patient becomes the doctor, the doctor becomes the patient and the inmates are left to run the asylum.
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