Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)

This review is dedicated to the memory of Jacinto "Paul Naschy" Molina, who passed way today. RIP man.

I remember the times before the advent of DVD and Blu-Ray. Back then, you rented VHS tapes that weren't in the best quality, but there was still a sense of youthful excitement over seeing all of these movies you had heard about from friends or on websites. As for those that were nearly impossible to find or not even available in the U.S., that's what trading lists and old review sites were for. I can still fondly remember hearing about such lurid wonders like "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats", "Pinocchio 964", I Drink Your Blood" and all of their ilk. There was a sense of mystery to them: you had to see them, even if you didn't know whether or not they were any good.

One of these movies was Olaf Ittenbach's 1997 Splatterfest "Premutos." Made in a time were the likes of Andreas Schnaas and his ilk were still pumping out unwatchable micro-budget gore flicks that also hadn't gotten any type of U.S. release (and were wanted for reasons I can't understand), "Premutos" became the thing of minor internet legend for a while: a zombie comedy that reportedly had the highest zombie body count ever, and was even said to be gorier than Peter Jackson's seminal zombie comedy "Braindead." It soon became that movie for some horror fans wanting the next big thing. Or at least one of those movies. That movie seems to come around a lot.

The plot to "Premutos" deals with the first demon. Apparently, the good book got it wrong-Lucifer wasn't the first fallen angel, Premutos was, and throughout history, he's returned again and again, with an army of flesh hungry undead. Cut to present day, in which Mathias (director Ittenbach) is getting horrible images stuck in his head. To make matters worse, his stepfather has a mysterious book that he thinks Mathias might like. Long story short, Mathias starts reading it, and Premutos and his legion of zombies return.

First things first: "Premutos" is probably the best low to no budget German splatter movie ever made. While it's not perfect, the gore effects are surprisingly impressive and plentiful, and rarely let up (though the occasionally feel a bit overwhelming.) It also helps that it has a cast of interesting characters (including a Dominatrix Sister and the stepfather-a character who pretty much steals the show) and some very Jackson-like gross out gags (including masturbation, a rather disgusting nose picking scene, and a pair of soccer cleats to the testicles.) Also, while there's plenty of moments clearly inspired by better movies, they actually don't hurt (the tribute to the Rambo flick "First Blood" cracked me up to no end.)

In spite of all this, there really isn't that much there. Sure, there's tons of gore and energy on hand, but at the movies final 10 minutes, the viewer starts to feel more than a little exhausted by what they are seeing. It becomes clear that unlike the movies it wants to be like ("Evil Dead 2" and "Braindead" for example), there really isn't much else here. It also doesn't help that the conclusion is lackluster, and that in spite of a few interesting characters, most of the actors are mediocre at best. The biggest problem though isn't the movie-it's the DVD. It comes with dubbed and original German language, but offers no subtitles. Plus, the dubbed language is atrocious and headache inducing.

Is "Premutos" worth the wait? Well, it depends I guess. It doesn't live up to all the hype (sorry, "Braindead" is still gorier and better), and at times it becomes tiresome. That out of the way, if your going to see any German splatter flick, this one is probably the best place to start, and also probably all you need to see. See it with friends and beer, but don't expect too much out of it.

Rating: 6/10

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