Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SCHRAMM (1994)

SCHRAMM (1994) (NR)
Dir. Jorg Buttgereit
65 mins.
The only other Jorg Buttgereit film I've seen so far is Nekromantik, and as much as I enjoyed that film, Schramm is easily the better of the two. The production values are higher, the acting, much more somber and realistic, and the camera movement and projection effects are incredible. The movie feels like a mixture of William Lustig's Maniac and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, with a few drops of Fulci-esque gore. It's invasive, grim and uncomfortably personal, as we follow the sad life and death of the Lipstick Killer, Lothar Schramm. 

We are introduced to the titular character, a prosthetic leg-wearing cab driver, who, when he's not running in marathons or driving his prostitute friend Marianne to various jobs, is in his apartment, ejaculating onto Sears catalogues or cleaning the semen out of his inflatable vagina. Fortunately for society, Schramm is now dying, having fallen off of a step ladder while painting over some bloodstains in his apartment. Seems his prosthetic came loose, and he snapped his neck upon impact with the floor. As he slowly departs this coil, Lothar's brain floods with flashbacks of his life and the events leading up to his fall.
These flashbacks are apparently random at first, but as the film progresses we begin to flesh out a timeline. We see Lothar doing normal things like showering, going to dinner or seeing his dentist. We also see him nail his foreskin to a table... and drug and rape Marianne (his only friend, mind you). The juxtaposition of everyday tediums with his shadow life of criminal perversion is striking, to say the least. Lothar's increasing levels of delusion lead to the double murder of two Christian missionaries in his apartment. It was their stains he was painting over. Towards the climax, as the dying killer's consciousness finally dims, we see some final flashbacks to Lothar as a boy, playing with crabs by the shore with, what I assume, is his family. And we see the wildflowers that grew there, suggesting that Luthor used to be innocent once, too. It begs the question, what happened to this guy that made him so fucked up? There are no real answers, you are left to speculate, and this makes him much more interesting than your average Norman Bates clone.

There is also a quasi-afterlife scene that I don't know what to make of.

The story is simple, but interesting, the writing and acting are up to par, and the special effects are effective and fun, but the real standout in this feature is the direction and editing. It looks as though Jorg projected the movie onto a piece of warping plexiglass, creating motion blurs, trails, and proportional distortions that make for a very psychedelic experience. Even the subtitles stretch with the picture. It's an incredible way to force the audience to sympathize with Lothar's condition, as the camera emulates his own hallucinatory view of his environment.

Schramm is definitely a splatter movie, but it's equally an art film. If you're into disturbing and disorienting films, this is like foie grois. Definitely an benchmark work for the genre. The visuals are amazing, the actors are fearless... and there is a rubber vagina monster, with teeth and tentacles, living in Schramm's lipstick drawer. Can't forget to mention that. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment