This is one of those movies I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to admit you watched. At least not publically. But you know what, I admit it. What’s more, I’ve been meaning to see this movie for years now, because it was one of the few films from this list that I had not seen yet. I can’t tell you why I would go out looking to watch something just because I heard a lot of rumors about how offensive it is. I’m just human, alright? And when you started watching horror movies in toddlerhood, it takes a lot to effect you. This movie has been pointed out to me by so many of my gross friends, i literally HAD to know what the big deal was. With that self defense out of the way, this is indeed the most blatantly offensive film I’ve ever seen.
This 1987 German horror film aims explicitly to shock. And it will do just that if you can bring yourself to take it in. It’s basically a series of over the top mutilation scenes, sort of strung together to form a loose narrative which follows Rob; a German youth who lives in a utilitarian style apartment with his surprisingly accepting girlfriend, Betty. The two of them engage in a number of acts that range from “just quirky” to highly morally reprehensible. The coup de grace being the films trademark threesome with a corpse. Don’t worry, they replaced the phallus with a sawed off hunk of metal rebar, gloved of course. Seriously though, nothing is left to the imagination. When Betty leaves with their “friend” in tow, Rob shows his despair by watching horror films, bathing in entrails (no animals really harmed), and committing a graveyard murder/rape. You know, normal break up stuff.
Now, I think…I THINK…somewhere in this film is a message about how unaffected the modern generation is. In an early scene, we see Rob watching a television program in which a psychologist talks about curing phobias, with success except in the case of people who have been completed morally desensitized. All this while Rob reclines on a bed decorated with bones, and Betty bathes in a tub of bloody water. It’s laid on pretty thick there. Shortly after, we lapse into one of Ron’s memories…or maybe a daydream…in which a rabbit is skinned and dressed. (Again, no animals were harmed. The rabbit scene was apparently pre-existing b roll footage, merely co-opted by the filmmakers). At any rate, it is made obvious that Rob is not ordinary, and therefore not curable. Except those weird scenes when he is happily frolicking through a field and playing with caterpillars.
Now the ending of this movie is just..well it’s certainly something I’ve never seen before. And that’s a tall order. Suffice it to say Rob ultimately does not cope well with his misfortunes, which allows Buttgeiert one last chance to make jaws drop. I can’t even begin to justify what he’s created. A lot of people call this movie art, but I don’t think it is. It’s shock value through and through. Of course, Crispin Glover would say this film is successful, because it makes us ask questions. So, I guess there’s that. I don’t really believe in something being too shocking for film, but I totally believe that not everyone aught to be watching it. Plenty of less disgusting films can make us ask questions. I don’t recommend this film to anyone but those few of us who just can’t help ourselves and have to see it all.
Challenge Fulfilled: German Horror