Germany is a country well known for Bratwurst. Okay, yeah, maybe they’re known for a lot more – but rather than be a insensitive jerk and bring up the second World War (or as us OG’s like to refer to it: WW2), we’ll just leave it at Bratwurst. One thing most people probably don’t think of instantly with the country of funny talking people is horror films. Some of you horror afficianados might of course, but I’m speaking to the common man and woman here. Although the underground scene in Germany is most definitely underground even amongst it’s citizens, a reputation arrived on our shores long ago. Directors like Andreas Schnaas and Olaf Ittenbach have developed their own burgoning cult fans on our shores, and in some cases it’s understandable. The German splatter scene is rife with everything a growing horror guru loves. Bad filmmaking, bad acting, a handful of bare breasts (pun very much intended) and buckets upon buckets of gore. If you’re looking for high art, of course you won’t find it here, but there’s a reasonable amount of entertainment; whether intentional or seemingly not.
The land of Germany has provided quite a few twists into this ever-so-underground of subgenres, probably not as important as the Japanese, but the prescence has been made known across the globe – even more so than regular German horror films. Jorg Buttgereit was probably (and I say probably because books on the issue aren’t exactly easy to come by) the first most notable director, although not absolute first, to break through onto the scene and really set the stage with his Nekromantik series. A film about… well, necrophelia. The act of arrousal via a dead corpse for those of you with some standards. The story focuses on a couple, Rob and Betty, who are both of course necrophiles. Rob’s line of work at a Street Cleaning Agency affords him the opportunity to occasionaly sneak body parts home to preserve, but when he gets his hands on a full corpse; well, he brings it home and he and his old lady get into all sorts of kinky stuff. A grossout shocker with little point otherwise, Nekromantik made a lot of heads turn and it along with it’s sequel are still being talked about today. Although Buttgereit is often hailed as a more efficient director, Andreas Schnaas and his Violent Sh** series premiered on the scene just a couple of years before in 1987.
Andreas Schnaas is perhaps one of the most interesting names in the whole scene, and really, he has made a name for himself outside of just his German blood and there’s no denying a certain place for him in the halls of splatter films. That isn’t to say he is a great director, not by a longshot, but his place has been made. Just as Lloyd Kaffman and any consistant B-Movie director. Schnaas just has a knack for extreme gore and lousy productions, scripts and just about everything else. That sounds like I’m kicking him, but, well, if you haven’t been through one of his films you’ll just have to wait and see. They are indeed as bad as reputations may lead you to believe – but at the same time, there’s no denying just how fun this sort of thing can be. I know I probably deserve a bullet from the cinematic cliques of the world for saying that, but Schnaas makes entertaining crap. I can’t deny it! He may never win any aways, lord knows he shouldn’t, but for what it’s worth – lowest common denominator entertainment can and does serve a purpose if you’re a forgiving enough viewer. Schnaas basically reahashes stories you’ve heard, with the bad acting you would expect with a somewhat lighthearted attitude – and of course featuring buckets of gory madness. Growing up, Schnaas, who looks like he could be a tiny version of Andre the Giant if you ask me, idolized Italian gore maestro Lucio Fulci – and it shows in his films. Often times just as inept, but equally as goofy in the fun to be had. So, to say he’s a director not suitable for all audiences shouldn’t even be neccesary.
With Schnaas and Buttgereit both having dominated the discussion on German Splatter with us Yankees for the past decade or so, I know at least for me, when Olaf Ittenbach released Premutos: Der Geffallene Engel onto the scene – I was in total shock. Not that I’ve followed the scene extinsively over the years – but the talk around him came from out of nowhere and Premutos just caught me off guard. I first was able to witness it through a bootleg VHS with no subtitles, and to this day it’s the only way I’ve witnessed the film. I just can’t bring myself to watch it with horrible English dubbing, when it was so much fun the first time when I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on. Premutos carries the title as the main contender agains Peter Jackson’s Dead-Alive/Braindead for the ominous title of "Goriest Film Ever Made", and the winner is entirely in the eye of the audience as far as I’m concerned. It’s just too hard to tell, since Premutos features a conclusion with a bodycount in the hundreds and just about as much zombie gore as you’ll find anywhere – though the F/X in Jackson’s film are obviously superior due to the budgets. Still, for what it was made, Premutos is perhaps the reigning king of German gore as far as little ol’ me is concerned.
So, I seriously doubt much was learned from all of this – but trust me guys; if you like gore and you like goofy B-Movies, Germany really does offer more than sweet pork links. At least give Premutos a shot… if you can get past the horrid dubbing, and really, that warning should be given for Schnaas as well. After sitting through Zombie 90… I now truly respect the voice actors in the old Shaw Bros. Kung Fu flicks of the 70’s.