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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/4/01

1994 (2001) - Barrel Entertainment

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Schramm Film Rating: D+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B+

Specs and Features

65 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary track (with writer/director Jorg Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen), audio commentary track (with actors Florian Koerner von Gustorf and Monika M.), The Making of Schramm documentary, early Super 8MM shorts (Captain Berlin and Mein Papi), music video and behind-the-scenes footage from Mutter's Die Neue Zeit (directed by Buttgereit), stills gallery, theatrical trailers (for Necromantik, Necromantik 2, Der Todesking and Schramm), Mutter Boxing (a video by Frank Behnke), Buttgereit filmography, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (32 chapters), languages: German (DD 2.0 and mono), subtitles: English

Jorg Buttgereit is back on DVD and, surprisingly, he's a little less shocking than he was in Necromantik. But by less shocking, I mean to say that there's no necrophilia going on in this film. There is, however, a throat slashing, a hammer blow to the head, penile self-mutilation for no apparent reason and a vague allusion to a snuff film. So, for fans of Buttgereit's oeuvre, it's not a total loss on the shockometer.

I'm going to break this one down quick, so girls... hang onto your boyfriends. Schramm is a very loose German homage to Taxi Driver (I say very loose, but the references are there if you're looking for them). Schramm is an overweight underachiever, who, as we see at the beginning of the film, has just died. Why did he die? He was painting over a splatter of blood left on his wall and fell. How'd he get blood on his wall? He killed a born again Christian couple, who was going door-to-door selling Jesus to whomever would listen. Why were born agains going door to door? That's what they do. The film then unfolds sort of backwards, a la Memento (but not quite), where we see the last week or so in the life of Schramm, and learn that he's a tortured guy who thinks he has a missing leg and is in love with the hooker who lives next door. We see the world from Schramm's viewpoint. It's nothing but split-skulls, eye violence and chomping mobile vaginas. Oh... and there's also a scene where we watch a man have sex with half of a blow-up doll (and wash it out as he listens to sex going on next door). I think that's the movie right there. Yeah... that's the movie right there. And if you're confused about the "story line", well... join the club.

This is a very, very stupid film. And the more I see films by Buttgereit, the more I think Florian and I were right about him in our Necromantik review - he's just a crazy kid with access to camera equipment. On the positive side, there's some great, Raimiesque camera moves in this film and the trailer makes everyone I know want to see the film. But in the end, it's a complete wash. Seriously. Even notorious gorehound Don May, Jr. hates this film.

This DVD just barely does the film justice. The justice it does serve is in the presentation. Presented full frame, the transfer is leaps and bounds better than Barrel's previous endeavor. The film stock and production values are much better with Schramm, and I'm sure that's a major part of it, but artifacting is minimal and the colors are well preserved. It's a good-looking film. The audio is given to us two-fold - in a brand spanking new stereo mix and the film's original mono track. Both sound good, but you're obviously going to want to go stereo here. The sound field is more open and there's some neat audio effects in this film that are played around with (like side to side conversations, echoes and drips).

Extra-wise, unless you just love Buttgereit, you're not going to give a rat's ass about what's here. But for those who do care, there are two audio commentary tracks. The first features our writer/director, Jorg Buttgereit, and his co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen. They sound stern and sarcastic about the film, piping in with inside jokes and self-depreciating humor. There's very little here about the making of the film, but if you like their work, you might find it enjoyable. The second commentary track is with actors Florian Koerner von Gustorf (who played Schramm), and Ms. Monika M. (who plays the hooker). They have fun with track and it's a better listen than the filmmaker track. But again, you're not going to learn much about the film - it's more a reunion track. The one place where you might learn about the film is with the documentary, The Making of Schramm. It shows how some of the better shots were achieved, and gives you a look at the nature of the sets these guys were shooting on. It's pretty fun... although you still won't know what the hell the film was about where you're done. Worthless to most audiences (beside the Buttgereit worshippers) are two early Super 8 shorts: Captain Berlin and Mein Papi. They're pretty juvenile in terms of filmmaking, but they're historical for his fans. Captain Berlin is silly stuff, but Mein Papi is actually quite poignant and won an award - go figure. Rounding out the disc is a music video and some "behind-the-scenes" footage from the band Mutter's song, Die Neue Zeit. It's directed by Buttgereit and the drummer is von Gustorf. There's a large stills gallery, some theatrical trailers (Necromantik, Necromantik 2, Der Todesking and Schramm), a little thing called Mutter Boxing and a Buttgereit filmography.

This is a pretty impressive disc in terms of content, and it's nice to see a smaller film getting such treatment on DVD. But I'm afraid Schramm's audience is limited - the appeal isn't very great. Still, if you're looking for a confusing film to wrap your brain around, check it out. Otherwise, go outside and play. Or better yet, go read a book. I dunno. Do something... ANYTHING... else.

Todd Doogan

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