Saturday, April 30, 2016

DEMENTIA (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

DEMENTIA (2015) 

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight

Release Date: May 17th 2016 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Mike Testin
Cast: Peter Cilella, Richard Riehle, Steve Agee, Hassie Harrison, Kristina Klebe, Marc Senter, Tony Denison, Gene Jones

Synopsis: In Dementia, George (Gene Jones, The Hateful Eight and The Sacrament) is an aging ex-soldier haunted by memories of Vietnam and struggling to reconnect with his estranged son and granddaughter. But when he suffers a stroke and is diagnosed with dementia, George is left in the care of Michelle (Halloween’s Kristina Klebe), a seemingly sweet nurse with a disturbing dark side. At the mercy of a psychopath with a hypodermic needle, George becomes a prisoner in his own home, caught in a sadistic game of cat and mouse as brutal as anything he experienced in Vietnam. In his feature debut, director Mike Testin masterfully keeps the tension mounting — until it explodes in delirious violence.

Dementia is a decent enough thriller starring Gene Jones (The Sacrament as an aging Vietnam vet named George who is suffering with dementia, the man is already plagued by visions of the horrors he saw in 'Nam and now he must deal with reality unravelling around him as he succumbs to dementia. He is estranged from his adult son Jerry (Peter Cilella), but they are reunited when his son returns to arrange for home care for his aging father, he brngs with him his teen daughter Shelby (Hassie Harrison). Enter into the picture we have the home care giver Michelle (Kristina Klebe) who has been assigned to care for George, who can no longer be trusted to care for himself. 

As is carelessly given away by the synopsis this caretaker proves to be a threat to George, drugging him and locking him away in his room, for reasons that are far too clear just a half hour or so into the movie, which definitely dampens the reveal later in the movie, by which point the movie is just playing catch-up to what we already know, which is probably the blackest mark against it. It has 'Nam flashbacks which feed into an important  reveal later in the movie, including a scene of a man chewing through his own wrist to commit suicide, which is a harrowing idea, damn. 

The performances are great across the board, Gene Jones really blew me away as the charismatic cult leader in the Ti West movie The Sacrament, his performance was a hypnotic powerhouse and he does great work here the weakened and mentally frail 'Nam vet struggling against a malevolent force which has entered his home, and for her part as the deranged caregiver Kristina Klebe does good work, though maybe a bit too over-the-top at times, though I do think the writing has a lot to do with that. It was nice to see a cameo from character actor great Richard Riehle (Office Space) as George's chess-playing friend, who meets an unfortunate end when he comes to the aid of George. Hassie Harrison is also very good as the granddaughter who yearns to connect with her estranged grandfather who ends up doing a bit of preposterous movie sleuthing of her own, which leads to a delirious finale that feels a bit too over-the-top and also asks the viewer to betray their allegiances and biases to certain characters on a dime, it is not ruinous but it is asking a lot of the viewer and is not an earned twist, just a twist for the sake of a twist. 

Special Features: 
- Trailer (2 Mins) HD 


Label: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Duration: 91 Minutes
Rating: Unrated 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.66:1) 
Audio: Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Cast: Francisco Barreiro, Daniela Soto Vell, Jorge Molina , Milena Pezzi, Vita Vargas

Spanish writer/director Adrián García Bogliano has really made a name for himself since 2010 with the movies Cold Sweat (2010), Here Comes the Devil (2012), Late Phases (2014), and now the twisted revenger Scherzo Diabolico, starring Francisco Barreiro as a mild-mannered accountant named Aram. Aram is a man who is frustrated at work and at home, he feels that he has been unfairly passed over for a much deserved promotion at work despite being the hardest working guy in the office. Without spoiling too much of what transpires Aram hatches an abduction scheme, one that will bring him what he feels is owed. 

We're not quite sure what the plan is all about as we are only fed bits and pieces pieces, but he is obviously tracking a particular young woman in her teens, logging her movements and whereabouts, making notes of her daily patterns into a small notebook. He also regularly sees a hooker who unknowingly helps him with his plan by letting him tie her up during their sex sessions, practicing his moves on her. Aram also practices his choke hold technique on his aging father who seems to suffer from dementia, which was a very sinister and twisted part of the story, particularly when his father begins to remember being choked out by his son. Meanwhile back at home his nagging wife complains about the long hours he puts in at work without any promotion or proper compensation, also denying him affection, which I think might be the reason he enacted this diabolical scheme of his in the first place, just to shut her up. 

Again, without spoiling too much he does end up kidnapping the teenager and holds her against her will in a warehouse where subjects her to some unpleasantness but never goes the rape route, which is where I expected this one to go, but this movie subverted my expectations time and time again. All this is feeding into his plan which goes completely his way, but the fallout of his actions come back to bite him in the ass in spectacular in the end. 

The script is pretty clever and fun, this one kept me scratching my head for quite some time as I tried to gain my bearings about where it was going, though not too clever for it's own good, but it is clever and filled to the brim with some tasty black humor. Something I loved about this one was how much of a sleazy exploitation movie it is, this thing is front-loaded with some nice full-figured women with gorgeous curves, we have his his ample-breasted wife, the horny hooker and a secret lover at work whom are all on full display, which I appreciated as a red-blooded male horror fan.

Daniela Soto Vell plays the kidnap victim, she plays it very well with a mixture of teenage toughness and teen-fright, at one point she is driven into a murderous rage and she is very convincing, though the initial outburst is tragic and awful. I like that the movie has some emotional weight about it, but not too much, this is still a fun slice of exploitation cinema. 

The disc from Dark sky Films comes out on May 3rd and is loaded with goodies, beginning with two commentaries from the cast and crew, plus over an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes and a trailer for the movie. Unfortunately there is no Blu-ray release for this one, though it is available in HD from video streaming services. 

Special Features:  
- Cast and Crew Commentary 
- Director, Producers and Actors Commentary
- Behind Every Weak Man: The Female Characters of Scherzo Diabolico (18 Mins) 
- A Diabolical Joke: The Technical Hell of Scherzo Diabolico (24 Mins) 
- The Mephisto Waltz: Scoring Scherzo Diabolico (19 Mins) 
- Music Video: "Anno Domini Satanicus" by Father and Son (5 Mins) 
- Trailer (2 Mins) 

I won't say much more about this vicious and twisted thriller from Bogliano other than to say I loved it from start to finish, it kept me guessing and it surprised me. If you love your thrillers that are pitch black this is a movie for you. Additionally there's also some good gore and shocking bits of violence for the gorehounds to enjoy, definitely keep an eye out for director Adrián García Bogliano, the writer/director has been banging out awesome genre cinema since 2010 and shows no signs of slowing down or repeating himself. 




Synopsis: Cult Epics presents Sex Murder Art: The Films of Jørg Buttgereit  a collection of his four underground horror films; the necrophilia classics Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2, the death and suicide anthology Der Todesking (The Death King) and the premiere of the serial killer film Schramm on Blu-ray. Includes exclusive Soundtrack CD’s of the films and a 40-page booklet, containing interviews and photos with Jorg Buttgereit and collaborators.


Label: Cult Epics
Duration: 75 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: A
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p  Full Screen (1.33:1)
Director: Jørg Buttgereit 
Cast: Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice M.

Nekromantik is the story of a strange young man named Rob Schmadtke (Daktari Lorenz) whom is employed at Joe's Street Cleaning Agency, a service that cleans-up crime scenes. It's a grisly job but one that suits of Ron who is a necrophile. Rob collects various body parts from the accident and crime scenes and keeps them in specimen jars at his apartment where both he and his death-obsessed girlfriend Betty (Beatrice M.) can get-off on touching and stroking the gruesome body parts. 

As this morbid fascination becomes more intense Rob steals a gooey corpse freshly pulled from the swamps and brings it home to the perverse delight of his girlfriend. They immediately fashion a iron-cock from scrap piping and before you know it we are treated to a very macabre threesome as Betty licks, sucks and fucks the rotting, tight-skinned cadaver as Rob takes her from behind in a trippy and revolting sequence.

However, when Rob loses his job Betty dumps him and takes her corpse-lover with her. Dumped in favor of a corpse poor Rob further spirals into the maddening depths of misery. He attends a misogynist slasher movie at the cinema before procuring a prostitute to fuck at the graveyard. Seems that the grave stones aren't enough to excite Rob as he experiences a bit of erectile dysfunction but rises to the occasion once he strangles her to death. It sex just isn't the same without the element of death for the depraved necrophiliac.

Afterward he further descends into disparity back at his apartment, he stuffs his cat into a trash bag and smashes it repeatedly against the wall into a bloody pulp. Now the cat is a prop but let me say that animal lovers will take exception with this film just in case the necrophilia didn't scare you off. Additionally, there's an actual scene of what appears to be an actual rabbit being bled to death, skinned and gutted - so just be aware of that. 

Shot on Super 8 mm film in 1987 the film has a rough homemade quality about it that won't appeal to your average horror-fan, so pile that on top of scenes of necrophilia and the death of small animals and you have a film that just doesn't;'t have a lot of appeal to your average joe. The very first shot is of a woman urinating along the roadside just before her and a male companion are involved in a horrendous car accident that leaves the woman torn in half, it's in aftermath of this that we meet Rob during the crime- scene clean-up. 

There were quite a few repulsive scenes but one of the first to affect me was the repeated bare handed handling of a corpses which made me a bit nauseous. The gore effects are low-budget and grotesque. When the lovers of the dead start to lick and suck the eye-socket of the cadaver I had to put my damn beer down for a few minutes before it came back up on me. 

Aside from the licking of body parts and the corpse there a few other effective gore gags including a sweet decapitation scene with spewing blood at he graveyard when Rob is discovered next to the dead whore the next morning. Speaking of spewing we cannot overlook perhaps the most infamous scene in the film - SPOILER ALERT - when Rob completely distraught lies in bed and pulls out his erect cock and begins stabbing himself in the guts repeatedly as thick streams of cum start to spew and them torrents of blood straight from his cock. It's definitely a scene you won't soon be erased from your memory. 

Audio/Video: The Sex Murder Art box set features the same brand-new HD transfer from the stand alone release approved by the director straight from the original Super 8mm negative is still not a pretty sight. It certainly looks like the lo-fi film made for pennies over twenty-five years ago. It's soft, the contrast is poor, the darker scenes are at times impenetrable and there's no fine detail to be found anywhere. This was a first time watch for me on any format and I can only assume this is superior viewing experience but without having something to compare it to I can only say this was a disappointing Blu-ray experience. I didn't go in expecting crystal clarity and pores of the skin to be jumping off the screen but it was a very flat and dull presentation. 

There are two versions of the film - we have the 8mm HD transfer and one from a 35mm print which looked like it been around awhile. Honestly I preferred it to the 8mm - it's darker and the colors are more muted but the grain and print damage added a lot of character to the viewing. Audio is also flat and unremarkable, both the stereo and surround mixes. Recorded without audio the dialogue was later dubbed in which gives it a weird disconnected vibe which suits the nightmarish imagery quite nicely. 

Onto the extras we have audio commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and Co-Author Franz Rodenkirchen plus a making-of doc and a featurette for NEKROMANTIK. The making-of doc features a bunch of unused scenes, outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. Buttegreit's short film HOT LOVE (1985)  is included on this disc and has never before been released, there's also a short making-of doc for the short film. .

There's a Q/A with Buttgereit from Beyond Fest 2013wherein he discussed everything from making the film to German schizer porn. There's also a collection of JB trailers, a still photo gallery and the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is included as a bonus on the Blu-ray, and as part of this liited edition boxset you can enjoy it on CD. 

The A/V left me wanting a bit more but perhaps these are surely the best available elements available for the movie, so what can you do? I think the selection of extras more than make up for the unimpressive A/V. There's a lot to sift through here and it;s interesting to hear the director speak at length about legal troubles while fighting censorship plus we get the short film that preceded NEKROMANTIK with some very cool making-of extras with a wealth of behind-the-scenes material.  

Special Features:

- New Director’s Approved HD Transfer (taken from the original Super 8mm negative)
- New Grindhouse HD Version (taken from the theatrical 35mm print)
- Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit
- Q+A with Jorg Buttgereit at the American Cinematheque (2013)
- Never Before Released Short Film Hot Love (1985) (29 minutes)
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and Co-Author Franz Rodenkirchen
- The Making of Nekromantik (12 minutes)
- Nekromantik Featurette
- Still Photo Gallery (102 images)
- JB Trailers
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Nekromantik is a dark and vile piece of cinema that is right up there with Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust as a film you should really never be in the mood to watch but instead feel compelled to endure, I'm not sure when I'll feel the compulsion to view this slice of repulsive cinema again but I can say that Cult epics have done a wonderful job bringing it to Blu-ray as both a stand alone release and as part of the Sex Murder Art box set. . 


Label: Cult Epics
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 103 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Fullframe (1.33:1)
Cast: Monika M., Daktari Lorenz, Mark Reeder
Director: Jørg Buttgereit 

Nekromantik 2 begins right where the first unforgettable film ended, with the heartbroken necrophiliac Rob's (Daktari Lorenz) suicide with a butcher's knife, killing himself in a torrent of cum and blood only to be dug up at the end of the film by whom I had thought to be his death-obsessed lover Betty (Beatrice M.), though there is a brief scene later where we see she has come tot he grave only to be disappointed that someone else has beat her to the punch, it seems in death Rob is quite a bit more desirable than he was in life.  

This time the corpse thief is the pretty necrophiliac Monika (Monika M.), a cute young woman who is a gravedigger and who was drawn to Rob's after reading about his suicide in the local newspaper. She takes his corpse back to her apartment and sets about prepping him for some cadaver sex, his corpse is a dark marbled green and quite slimy, unfortunately the sex is not all it could have been and Monika is left unsatisfied by the experience, unfulfilled she can be seen vomiting into the toilet

Through a chance encounter Monika winds up at the movies with a young man named Mark (Mark Reeder) and the two strike up a budding relationship and head-off to the carnival. Mark is employed as someone who dubs dialogue and moaning into porn films, which might seem a bit weird but we've already met Monika and her cadaverous hobbies make his day job seem absolutely legit in comparison. 

As her relationship with Mark becomes more serious Monika comes to the difficult decision that she needs to get Rob's corpse out of her apartment, tearfully sawing him into pieces and disposing of the parts except for the head and penis, the latter of which Mark discovers in the fridge when he makes breakfast for Monika. He's not quite sure what the rotting and blackened appendage is or sure but you can tell he knows it's something awful, I thought for certain he might cook it - it's a film about necrophilia so to think it might go that direction is not out of the question. 

The surprisingly sweet looking necrophile does attempt to carry on a normal relationship with her new found boyfriend Mark but there are bound to be problems when you're a necrophiliac. She belongs to a group of friends who seem to be fellow necrophiles, at the very least they're extremely morbid people whose idea of fun group activity is watching a video of seals being slaughtered and skinned. These strange proclivities do not sit well with poor Mark whom is already disturbed that Monika's demands he remain completely still during sex, he can definitely sense that the two might not be compatible. 

As the doubts grow the pair begin to argue and the relationship starts to unravel a bit,  but after a day alone at the beach Monika comes up with a solution that will set things right, which brings us to the super grisly climax of the film and one that does not disappoint in anyway. During make-up sex Monika straddles Mark and once he has been fully aroused she saws off his head in a grisly over-the-top scene, it's quite a shocker and it doesn't quit end there, it goes even further!

Buttgereit's Nekromantik films are essentially morbid love stories and the love story in Nekromantik 2 is amped up quite a bit but so too is the gore, though maybe not quite as morbid as the first, that three-way in the first film is hard to top. This time out there's much more of an art house aesthetic to the film too, with long languid shots and more creative shot composition, with a score that definitely accentuates the artier side of shock cinema. Anchoring the film is the very believable performance from Monika M. that is both tender and disturbing, she brings the character to life onscreen with minimal dialogue and a brave performance, if you consider simulated sex with a cadaver prop brave, some might just call it nuts. 

The gore this time out does not disappoint, from the slime-covered, green marbled skin of Rob's cadaver to the brutal decapitation at the end this one will have your gag reflex working overtime when it's not tugging at your warped little heart strings you sickies. A much better made film than the first with some nice moments of black humor throughout that make the moments of gore just that much more disturbing, a pretty interesting slice of shock cinema and not for the fain of heart. 

Audio/Video: Again, this version of Nekromantik 2 on the box set features the same uncut and uncensored HD transfer as the standalone Blu-ray from Cult Epics. It is framed in the original full frame aspect ratio is has a lot of grain as you might expect from 16mm but there's a surprising level of clarity and detail highlighting all the gruesome sights you crave to see, quite a bit more enjoyable than the first film on a visual level. 

You have the choice of three German language audio options, Dolby Digital Mono, Stereo and a 5.1 Surround mix, as with the first film the score is strangely gorgeous and drives the film quite a bit, without this score the film would be measurably less interesting in my opinion, it's a perfect marriage.Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras we begin with a a brand-new introduction by director Jorge Buttgereit whom speaks about the film being banned and confiscated in Germany  for many years. Then onto a 27-minute making of featurette narrated by Buttgereit in English with some fascinating behind-the-scenes video of the making of the corpses in the film including how they achieved the grisly finale, all of this accompanied by score from the film. 

The audio commentary by Jorg Buttgerei, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and actors Monika M. and Mark Reeder is conducted in English and quite a good listen but might be hard to decipher with the thick accents, it's a fun listen with some good recollection of making the film. Also included are a short film by Buttgereit, a music video he directed, an isolated motion picture soundtrack, a live version of the soundtrack, trailers for five Buttgereit films, outtakes, and a still gallery. 

Special Features:

- New Director’s Approved HD transfer (taken from the original 16mm negative)
- New Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit (2014) (2 Mins)
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgerei, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and actors Monika M. and Mark Reeder
- The Making of Nekromantik 2 (27 Mins)
- Still Photo Gallery (13 Mins) 
- Outtakes (11 Mins)
- Trailer: Nekromantik (2 Mins), Nekromantik 2 (1 Min), Todesking ( 2 Mins), Schramm (2 Mins), Hot Love (1 Min)
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (57 Mins)
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2011) Live (47 Mins)
- 20th Anniversary Live Concert performed by Monika M. and Friends - Video (2011) (12 Mins)
- Short film A Moment of Silence At the Grave of Ed Gein, 
- Short film by Jorg Buttgereit (2012) (2 Mins)
- Half Girl – Lemmy, I’m A Feminist, Music video by Jorg Buttgereit (2014) (3 Mins)

One of the most warped love stories of all time presented in satisfying and grisly HD from Cult Epics with a sweet transfer, decent sound and packed with neat extras. This is a high recommend for fans of shock cinema who don't mind a somewhat touching love story with some arthouse pretensions. 


Label: Cult Epics
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Fulsscreen (1.33:1) 
Director: Jørg Buttgereit 
Cast: Bela B., Hermann Kopp, Heinrich Ebber, Michael Krause, Eva-Maria Kurz, Angelika Hoch, Nicholas Petche, Susanne Betz, Mark Reeder, Hille Saul, Ades Zabel, Jörg Buttgereit

Buttgereit's follow-up to Nekromantik is a series of seven vignettes that are all driven my the theme of death and suicide, which probably won't come as a surprise fort anyone familiar with the Nekromantik movies, the smell of death was strong on both. This time out however there's far less emphasis on the gore as we are treated to seven entries, each happening on a different day of the week. The anthology of death is framed by both the drawing of the "Death King" figure by a young girl which both open and close the story, plus the interstitial scene of a decomposing corpse. 

Each short vignette is a tiny slice of arthouse macabre, in the first story taking place on Monday a young man comes home and writes a suicide note before downing a handful of drugs and drowning himself. On Tuesday a young man returns home from the VHS rental shop with a naziploitation film, his girlfriend comes home and starts to argue with him, he takes pistol and blows her brains against the wall. This one has a nice movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie framing that I enjoyed, and the naziploitation movie is another Buttgereit creation with a gristly castration scene which is by several measures the most grotesque scene in the film aside from the transitional decomposition scenes. 

Come Wednesday a man and a woman are seated on a park bench having a discussion about his miserable life and the death of his lover at his hands, the segment was brief and didn't do much for me. On Thursday we have a haunting entry bereft of any onscreen characters, instead we have long tracking shots of a notorious bridge in Germany, as the camera glides over it from multiple angles the names and occupation of various suicides who leaped to their deaths from it appear onscreen, it's an affecting piece of minimalism. 

The weekend arrives with Friday as a lonely woman eats chocolate in her apartment, she occasionally spies the young lovers across the way through her window as they are wrapped up in each others arms. When she receives a chain letter at her door encouraging her to kill herself things take a turn for the worse for someone, this one takes an unexpected detour and doesn't go quite where you might expect, we are also treated to a strange dream from an encounter during the woman's youth. 

Saturday brings a young woman busy in her apartment strapping a camera rig to her body before attending a rock concert where she goes on a murderous shooting spree, for some reason this one brought to mind the unfortunate murder of Pantera's Dimebag Darrell which added a bit more weight to it. The week of death ends with a troubled young man alone in his apartment, he lays in bed crying for reasons unknown. He crawls along the floor to a nearby wall where he smashes his head repeatedly against the hard surface, screaming a series of anguished cries before succumbing to the head trauma he has inflicted upon himself, it's a chilling entry and I got the feeling he was not quite right in the head, there's an unsettling realism about it.

While the anthology of death lacks the visceral punch of Nekromantik carries with it a haunting and heavy weight, and again it falls into the arthouse horror category of Nekromantik while the results are a bit uneven it is unsettling across the board, infused with confusion and sadness, and it definitely strikes a chord that stays with you for a while. 

Cult Epics have been doing a fantastic job with the Jorge Buttgereit releases, presenting Der Todesking on uncut on DVD/BD for the first time with a new HD master struck from the original 16mm negative. Having never watched the VHS I can only surmise that this is quite a uptick in A/V quality with some nice heavy grain and clarity. The German language score comes by way of both a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 and a more immersive Surround Sound 5.1 option with optional English subtitles. The mix is solid and well-balanced but not that notable, a lossless audio option would have been appreciated but considering the low-budget nature of the movie I think the Dolby Digital options are suitable. 

Onto the extras we have a new Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit plus an audio commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen. A 15-minute making of documentary that goes into the making of the movie and creating the shots and special effects used in the making of the film, including the castration scene and the decomposing corpse seen throughout. 

Also included on the disc is the documentary Corpse Fucking Art which goes into the making of Nekromantik, Nekromantik 2 and Der Todesking, plus a collection of Buttgereit trailers, a still gallery and the option to listen to the complete score for the film. 

Special Features: 
- New Director’s Approved HD transfer (taken from the original 16mm negative)
- New Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit (2015) (1 Mins) 
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen
- The Making of Der Todesking (15 Mins) 
- Still Photo Gallery (13 Mins) 
- Jorg Buttgereit HD Trailers: Nekromantik (2 Mins), Nekromantic 2 (2 Mins), Der Todesking (2 Mins), Schramm (2 Mins), Hot Love (1 Mins), Corpse Fucking Art (1 Mins), Angst (3 Mins) 
- Corpse Fucking Art (Documentary) (58 Mins) HD
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (28 Mins)

Der Todesking (1990) (aka The Death King) is a haunting meditation on death and a pretty compelling watch for fans of a Jorge Buttgereit's certain type of macabre cinema, while not quite as grotesque or shocking as Nekromantik this is still not for everyone, but it's certainly a interesting slice of arthouse depression. Coming in between Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2 you can see here the advancements Buttgereit was making in form and technique that he applied to the superior Nekromantik 2. 

SCHRAMM (1993)
Label: Cult Epics
Region Code: A
Duration: 65 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Full Screen (1.33:1) 
Audio: German DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Jørg Buttgereit
Cast: Florian Koemer von Gustorf, Monika M.

Synopsis: The story of a deranged serial killer from the director of Nekromantik. Lothar Schramm (Florian Koemer von Gustorf) is dying, face down in a pool of his own blood. Behind his closed eyes, fractured memories repeat themselves. He runs by the sea. He lusts after the whore (Nekromantik 2's Monika M.) across the hall. He staggers through life uncertainly. He kills. Schramm is the story of the notorious Lipstick Killer Lothar Schramm's last days on earth. Revealed in a series of tightly constructed flashbacks, the film offers an unflinching look into the mind of a serial killer. Uncompromising in its depictions of violence and perversion, Schramm is a poetic masterpiece of horror guaranteed to make you squirm.

The last movie on this depraved box set is also the last movie directed by Jørg Buttgereit back in 1993, a demented tale of a lonely guy named Lothar Schramm, played actor Florian Koemer. Schramm is a taxi driver by trade and a depraved killer of women by desire. The media has dubbed Schramm the "lipstick killer", as he poses his victims in the nude and applies red lipstick to their lips. He is is a rather sad sort of nobody, the kind of anonymous guy who falls for the hooker Marianna (Monika M.) who lives next door.  Through the paper thin walls he can hear her nightly fornication with customers, all the while he fucks a sad and rather weird inflatable sex toy to the sounds of her screwing, which is already very said, but the scene of him washing out his sex toy in the tub is even more so.

Schramm is a bit demented in the head and often fantasizes and hallucinates all sort of wicked things, while visiting the dentist he hallucinates that the tooth doc surgically removes his eyeball, he also has a recurring of one of his his legs being amputated ...and then there's the nightmarish hairy and toothed vagina. 

The movie is Buttgereit's criticism of mainstream cinema's fascination with serial killers, hos story is a non-linear and gruesome sort of movie, but in my opinion not one of his more depraved movies, it would be hard to top some of the depraved visuals from Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2, which are still stomach churning, definitely a pair of movies that will get under your skin. Schramm also get under your skin but for different reasons.  Koemer is sort of a blank canvas as a character, his portrayal is cold and aloof, his deeds are diabolical and reprehensible, but his demeanor is not, which is all the more scarier, coming across as just a sad sort of person who is fucked in the head and controlled by compulsion. 

I love the way the movie begins, with Schramm painting his flat atop a latter, white-washing the torrents of blood which he has unleashed after a recent murder. He falls from the ladder, white paint spills across the floor, his blood sprays across the white paint. As he lays with his life ebbing from his body there is a knock at the door, from here we are taken through a non-linear narrative and we learn what has transpired the previous few days, it has a nice flow about it. The visuals are very striking, this is by several measures Buttgereit's most accomplished film with good use of the camera with some nice movement and composition. The special effects work is also quite good, the murder of two young Christ-loving born agains who come knocking at his door, unaware of the horrors that await them inside, is nicely staged and well executed. A notable scenes of Schramm working out in his flat wearing bloodstained underwear shows a lot of creativity with the camera, too. The score by Max Muller and Gundula Schmitz is also pretty great, those familiar with the exceptional trailer for the movie will know the song "Lothar's Leibesubung", which is a haunting a pulsing piece of music. 

Audio/Video: Cult Epics once again to a wonderful job bringing Buttgereit's movie to Blu-ray, sourced from original 16mm negative, grain looks natural and abundant, the colors are vivid and there's a good amount of fine detail to enjoy. We have two audio options, the German Dolby Digital 2.0 or a lossless German DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround, both sound great, with the dialogue and hypnotic score coming through strong and clean, optional English subtitles are included. 

Onto the extras we have  a new introduction for the movie from Buttgereit plus a thirty-six minute making of doc with actor Florian Koemer von Gustorf  who walks us through what it was like making the movie at the time. There are also two commentary tracks, one with Jorg Buttgereit and writer Franz Rodenkirchen, and a second with actors Florian Koemer von Gustorf and Monika M.. Cult e\Epics have also included three of Buttgereit's short movies, Horror Heaven (23 Mins) with an optional audio commentary by Jorg Buttgereit, Blutige Exzesse im Fuhrerbunker (8 Mins) and Mein Papi (7 Mins). 

Additionally Cult Epics have stuffed this release to the max with two audio CDs containing the complete original motion picture soundtrack for each movie, which is pretty awesome considering how damn expensive these can be to purchase these days, these come housed inside separate cardboard slipcases. There's also a slipcase for the oversized Blu-ray keep case, which aside from housing the four Blu-ray discs also protects nifty 40-page perfect-bind booklet with an introduction by Nico B. of Cult Epics and interviews with Buttgereit, a filmography, behind-the-scenes pics, and information about each of the short movies on the set. 

Special Features:
- New Director's Approved HD Transfer from the original 16mm negative
- Exclusive introduction by Jorg Buttgereit (1 Min) HD 
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and writer Franz Rodenkirchen
- Audio Commentary by actors Florian Koemer von Gustorf and Monika M.
- The Making Of Schramm (36 Mins) HD 
- Still Photo Gallery (6 Mins) HD 
- JB HD Trailers: Nekromantik (2 Mins) HD, Nekromantik 2 (1 Min) HD, Der Todesking (2 Mins) HD, Schramm (2 Mins) HD 
- Short Film Horror Heaven (23 Mins) HD with optional audio commentary by Jorg Buttgereit
- Short Film Blutige Exzesse im Fuhrerbunker (Bloody Excess In The Leaders Bunker) (8 Mins) HD
- Short Film Mein Papi (My Father) (7 Mins) 
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (54 Mins) 
- New DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound Mix 

- Exclusive CD Soundtrack of Neromantik & Der Todesking (30 songs, 78 Minutes) 
- Exclusive CD 2 Soundtrack of Nekromantik 2 & Schramm (37 Songs, 79 Minsutes) 
- BD Exclusive 40-page perfect-bind booklet with Interviews and Exclusive Photos
- BD Exclusive new art design by Silver Ferox

The Sex Murder Art Blu-ray Box set is a must-own for hardcore Jørg Buttgereit fans who crave his demented and depraved version of lo-fi nightmare cinema, who maybe do not already own Neklromantik, Nekromantik 2, and Der Todeskins on stand alone Blu-ray from Cult Epics. Say what you will about his movies the director had a unique voice and vision, and this box set is one of the year's best releases. Though I enjoy it I would warn you that this it is not for the casual movie fan, while I'd love to think this will be this Christmas season's preferred stocking stuffer that will certainly not be the case, but the world would be a lot cooler if it was. For those who already own the other Buttgereir Blu-rays from Cult Epics Schramm is also available as a stand alone release, but considering that this set includes the CD soundtracks for all four movies I would give this limited edition box set some serious consideration. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1989) (Arrow Video Blu-ray Review)


Label: Arrow Video 
Region: Free
Rating: 18
Duration: 97 Minutes
Audio: PCM 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Brian Yuzna
Cast: Jeffrey Cobs, Bruce Abbot, Claude Earl Jones, David Gale, Fabiana Udenio, Mel Stewart

The events of Brian Yuzna's lunatic sequel to Re-animator begin eight months after the events of the first movie with both Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, From Beyond) and Dr. Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) working as medics in Peru where a bloody civil war is raging around them. The steady stream fresh corpses proves ideal for West and his continued experiments in reviving the dead with his green, glowing re-agent serum. When the medical camp is overrun by enemy soldiers the duo are forced to abandon their South American endeavor and return to Arkham, Massachusetts where they resume their former careers as doctors at Miskatonic University Hospital, where Dan seems content in making terminal patients comfortable during their finals days, while West just sort of wrings his hands with delight waiting for them to pass, at which point he can use their corpses as test subjects for his coveted re-agent serum.   

Both Dan and Herbert West live together in a house on the property of the local cemetery which seems appropriate, though the two once again make for combative housemates, not exactly seeing eye to eye on things. West is conveniently able to pilfer body parts from the Miskatonic University morgue, which is where he finds Dr. Hill's severed head and Meg's heart among other medical artifacts saved from the Miskatonic Massacre, Meg being Dan's former love interest from the first movie. West steals the heart and uses it to coerce Dan into helping him create a body from human parts, which when finished they will give life to by using the re-agent serum. This experimentation takes place in the basement of the home, a space that shares a wall with a cemetery crypt next door, which is where West conveniently disposes of his failed creations, which will come back to haunt him during the final moments of the movie. 

Meanwhile, back at Miskatonic University the aptly named Dr. Graves (Mel Stuart) has himself become obsessed with the work of the late Dr. Hill (David Gale, Ritual), and while using some of the re-agent serum found at the crime scene from the first movie is able to re-animate Hill's head, who then sets about exacting revenge on West, beginning by using his diabolical hypnotic powers to force Grave to sew a pair of bat wings to the sides of his severed head, which enables him to fly around. This has always brought to mind the winged skull mascot of the thrash band Overkill, and if the notion of a bat-winged severed head flying around seems a bit on the silly side that is because it certainly is. While the first movie was darkly comedic this one amps the comedy up quite a bit and goes right off the deep end of demented.

Also figuring into the story is police officer Lt. Leslie Chapham (Claude Earl Jones) who harasses both Dan and Herbert whom he holds responsible for the re-animation of his dead wife nine months earlier. As Dan and West were the only survivors of the Miskatonic Massacre he knows that deep down they had something to do with it. His quest for deranged justice results in him becoming one of Dr. Hill's re-animated minions, joining the ranks of the formerly undead. This time around Dan has a new love interest, another doctor named Francesca Danelli played by Fabiana Udenio, who was a face I knew, but it took me awhile to place her as Alotta Fagina from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), her inclusion seems a bit jammed-in there but it's not ruinous.

The movie comes to a head with the completion of their Bride, a corpse stitched together from various cadavers, with the heart of Dan's beloved Meg within it, they inject it with re-agent and the re-animated bride arises, just as the winged head of Dr. Hill and his re-animated minions lay siege to the house, leading up to a fevered finale with a cat fight between the Bride and Francesca, but when Dan rejects the affections of the creature she rips out her own heart and begins to fall apart quite literally. There's some very cool Screaming Mad George created freaky looking creatures that have been kept hidden away in the crypt which come after West he and the others take refuge from Dr. Hill's mind-controlled minions in the crypt, which brings this weird and gory sequel to a proper close. This sequel solid, maybe a bit on the absurd side, with more comedic and slapstick moments than the Stuart Gordon original, but a worthy and gory entry with a nicely over-the-top performance from Jeffrey Combs as the beloved Dr. Herbert West, a sweet slice of '80s gore cinema loaded with humor. 

Audio/Video: Bride of Re-animator arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video in both the R-rated and unrated versions - both running at 97 minutes in length. Both versions are new 2K scans with the unrated coming from a 35mm 
Composite Master Positive Print and the R-rated version coming from a second generation intermediate interpositive. I would definitely give the unrated version the edge over the R-rated version with a nicely managed grain field and more saturated colors. There's a nice sharpness to the image but it is marred by some strange and over powering set-lighting and the inclusion of cuts scenes which aren't up the same standards, but overall this is a very pleasing presentation on Blu-ray from Arrow Video that easily advances the previous DVD versions. The PCM Stereo 2.0 audio on the set sounds awesome, with Richard Band's almost criminal Bernard Hermann-esque score coming through with some real power, both dialogue and sound effects are nicely balanced and clean sounding. Optional English subtitles are provided. 

Arrow Video have above and beyond for the fans of the movie, first offering new 2K restorations of both the R-rated and unrated versions of the movie, plus the inclusion of three audio commentaries, including a brand new one with director Brian Yuzna moderated by David Gregory of Severin Films, the director right from the start reveals the influence of schlock-master William Castle on the movie with the floating head of Dr. Hill. I have not listened to the commentary with Yuzna, Combs and the special effects team yet, but the commentary with Combs and Abbott is a great listen, the two have a great chemistry onscreen and on the commentary, coming across as humorous, the two are always questioning the why and how of the absurd sequel.  

The disc also has two brand-new Severin Films produced featurettes, beginning with the 10-minute 'Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-animator' with the director remembering the origins of the sequel, unused story idea,making Society before getting to the sequel, the hurried start to the movie and selling the movie to Troma for distribution under the banner of 52nd Street Films, in addition to the critical and fan reception to the movie. 

The 15-minute 'Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-animator' features interviews with the many talented special effects creators who worked on the movie including Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin, John Buechler and Brian Yuzna, these are great, I always love hearing about the creation of these '80s practical effects, it begins with Yuzna recalling the work on Stuart Gordon's Dolls, and is peppered with loads of behind-the-scenes footage.  

Other extras on the set included an archival making of featurette offering some great behind-he-scenes footage of the movie being made along with the set-up of the great gore gags, eight minutes of deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and a behind-the-scenes reel

Special Features:
- Brand new 2K restoration of the R-rated version (97 Mins) HD
- Brand new 2K restoration of the Unrated version (97 Mins) HD
- Brand new audio commentary with Brian Yuzna
- Audio Commentary with Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, visual effects supervisor Tom
Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Bob Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George
- Audio Commentary with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott
- Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-animator – brand new featurette in which the director looks back at the making of the first Re-animator sequel (10 Mins) HD
- Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-animator – Brand new FX featurette with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler (15 Mins) HD
- Getting Ahead in Horror – archive making-of featurette (24 Mins) HD
- Deleted Scenes (10 Mins) HD 

- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) HD 
- Behind the Scenes Reel (15 Mins)  

- Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet

This release from Arrow Video is stacked from top to bottom, it really goes above and beyond for this gore-soaked sequel, offering new 2K restorations of both the R-rated and unrated versions of the movie with the usual sweet Arrow Video design and packaging. As a sequel the Bride of Re-Animator is fun, gory and wonderfully nutty, a step down from the original but a totally fun watch, and this is the definitive version to own.