In the moments before attending a pool party, apparent strangers-to-acquaintances, a distinguished, if not quirky man and a promiscuous, self-involved German woman, withdraw to a secluded building in order for the brazen woman to shave the bikini line exposed excess hairs before strapping on a suit. Their intricately deep discussions about desires, sex, and kinky foreplay fair nothing more but course, blunt banter between two familiarities, but when the woman pretends she must be tied up and punished for playfully biting the man’s ear until bleeding, the next few moments after fall into a state of obscurity of a he said, she said rape accusation. As confounding declarations are made and fingers are being pointed to decimate lives, a sack of deceptions and an abundance of threats accrue through a blackmail scheme and an abduction based vendetta. Nothing can be certain and no one can be trusted between the two, but one thing is definite, a third man watching from afar has nefarious plans of his own.
Like sitting front row at a bastardized version of an off-broadway show, “Open Wound” is an immaculate stage performance of battered psychologies and visceral deceptions from writer-director Jürgen Weber. The thriller, also known as “Time Is Up” or “Open Wound: The Über-Movie,” measures extreme lengths of human bitterness while constantly shapeshifting into plot twist after plot twist aggregated with clusters of popup violence. The Chinese born Weng Menghan, under her moniker Tau Tau, is the financial backer of “Open Wound. The globetrotting author makes her breakthrough imprint into the feature film business that modestly begins with an opening scene about anal sex among other verbal sexual references before man versus woman fisticuffs and a pivoting third act that rapidly alters character compositions into, essentially, a free for all. So metaphorically speaking, a Chinese producer walks into a bar, sits onto a stool next to a German director, and orders one of the more absorbingly chic cocktail thrillers in English. “Open Wound” is a melting pot of cultural influences and a display damaged egos that’s simply brilliant.
“Open Wound” has a short character list comprised of three characters. The first is woman who is introduced first, or rather her lips do when she declares her love anal sex and the parallel criteria for types of cars in one man’s garage, as she’s using a straight razor to trim the dark haired pubes from her bikini line. She oozes eroticism like a bodily fluid that gravitationally seeps from between the legs, spilling innermost desires, whims, and historical sex-capades with in a philosophical prose. #Nippelstatthetze advocate, German podcast expert, and stunning model, Leila Lowfire engrosses herself into the role of fierce, proud, confident, and strong woman. With an established vigorous sexual prowess, Lowfire culminates the femme fatales and breakneck show-stoppers female roles, notably similar in Quentin Tarantino movies, with high-brow tastes and a debasing reprove. Lowfire’s accent is low and thick and can be considered her weakness here as getting your brain to interpret the fluidity of the words, structures, and compositions is undeniable challenging at times, but acts upon fervor while in her lingerie or even topless throughout the film. The contrast against man is stark. His introduction paints him as unequipped, socially inept, and hopeless desperate. Man longs for Woman, but knows he doesn’t have a chance with her until she offers up a random game of role-play that inevitably leads to disarray. Jerry Kwarteng’s man performance is systematically peerless and a complete joy. Even if the character lacks depth, Kwarteng’s range is devilishly good with the only comparison coming to mind would be James McAvoy and his multiple personality disorder in “Glass.” Once Man and Woman comes to terms after a back and forth bout with dominance, the Suicide King’s grand appearance bestows upon the plot an even bigger, clunkier monkey wrench. The Suicide King’s an ex-con, looking for revenge in a small vat of acid, and his mark and him have a long, complicated history which parts personally shock the other. Erik Hanson’s raspy voice, feeble appearing physique, and lofty age has a second row seat to his character’s unwillingness to die, in a slick performance that’s part nihilist and part psychotic to which Hansen pulls off.
Weber’s choice toward “Open Wound’s” narrative layout conflicts with how the DVD release is specifically marketed. “Open Wound” rides the dark comedy pine that is peppered with black tongue-and-cheek dialogue and violence and as will be noted later in the review, the advertising depicts something far more extreme and graphic. On the shock value scale of one to ten, “Open Wound” hovers around a solid five and maybe a seven or eight for the casual popcorn viewer and, personally, I don’t believe “Open Wound” was intended to be a source of utter distress and visual barbarity. There’s brisk lighthearted comedy that softens the blunt force. For example, in the room with the Man and Woman, a record player will every so often, to comically assist in explaining the actions, play the cheesy tune of lounge background music with a singer narrating the character’s every move and also be the voice of between chapter contention or bewilderment. The singing is privy to only the audience just as the twelve chapter titles that offer a mixed bag of sequences that interchange between English, German, and Chinese title introductions, a toilet paper title card in reverse action, and an artistic rendering of chapters titles and just like his title card introductions, Weber also utilizes an assortment of styles to tell his story, whether be a 5 minute sepia, nitrate film burn effect, or day dream sequence, that peers the sudden twists and eruptive chaos between the characters. While the effects work to sensationalize the context, they tend to be equally be nauseating and annoying as a disruptive structure that seemingly doesn’t make sense to the naked eye.
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing distributes Jürgen Weber’s “Open Wound” onto DVD home video as the the 11th spine feature under the Wild Eye Raw & Extreme sub-label. The DVD is presented in a widescreen format and the image quality holds up well, withstanding Weber’s bombardment of stylistic techniques of distortion, over exposure, sepia, and contrast. There’s a little softness around the skin, more noticeably during facial close ups, with a slightly lower bit rate in the compression but still very agreeable detail. The stereo two channel audio channel does the job, but has flaws with Weber’s score have an equal playing field with the dialogue tracks. The audience already has to manage Leila Lowfire’s thick German accent and their ears will also need to try and filter out the soundtrack that’s invasive upon the colloquy. Not much range to warrant mentioning, but the depth was well tweaked amongst Weber’s visual compliments. There are unfortunately no bonus material with the feature, but the DVD reversible insert is graced with a semi-naked and bound Leila Lowfire. “Open Wound” is dangerous, sexy, thrilling, and complicated to say the least, but stamped as a Raw & Extreme film it should not; however, see this film! Director Jürgen Weber’s visionary molotov cocktail of a story is an underground must for arthouse lovers and noir enthusiasts.
An absent Séverine wants to take a holiday away from her boyfriend Tom after she awakes from a dream where she has fallen in love with a man in a top open, white car. Frustrated and desperately in love with her, Tom agrees to a pact with a bar room stranger to stage a faux kidnapping of his lovely girlfriend and Tom would her hero, swooping in to rescue her from “evildoers” and hoping to rekindle her passion for him, but the Tom’s newfound stranger friend has a more devious agenda up his nicely tailored coat and white collared shirt sleeves; one that involves kidnapping young women to star in their snuff movie productions. When the plan begins the unravel and actual intentions are exposed, Séverine’s forced into a deadly cat-and-mouse game against unsympathetic sadists who have laid the prep work foundation into getting to know their victim and know every inch of her youthful body, but Séverine won’t submit without an unflinching, vicious fight as she trudges through areas of an old villa compound, looking for to escape or kill her captors.
If you search for a combination of the classic Hitchcockian style with a smidgen of cold blooded savagery, Mathieu Seiler’s “True Love Ways” would be at the top of the search result. The 2015 German, black and white thriller surpasses being a surprising sleeper film and goes directly into a notorious favorite category helmed by the Switzerland born director who integrates a complex lead character into an unfathomable story of selfishness, unscrupulous power, and sheer determination. Despite the sepia overlay, the colorful venomous of the characters explodes brilliantly, adding vim and vigor to a story that begins with a slow burn to quickly escalating in an anxiety-riddled and captivating narrative pivoting to one harrowing moment to the next. Seiler, who also wrote the script, blends a detailed art house thriller with feminist undertones that surface the severe ugliness in man whose either selfish with his needs, sexually deviant, or insecure. There’s even a case where Séverine’s father isn’t safe from being scrutinized. Séverine’s the strongest character in the bunch by overcoming one obstacle over another while managing each male driven situation with disregard and hostile improvisation.
Steering Séverine’s reactive and survivalist rampage is Berlin native Anna Hausburg. The then 25 year old actress embodies a major milestone in maturity for her physical performance. The entire film is driven by physicality, not dialogue, and Hausburg prove her grit and sexuality seemingly effortless. Hausburg is joined by Kai Michael Müller as Séverine’s unassertive husband Tom. Together, Hausburg and Müller couldn’t be more distant from each other while David C. Bunners interjects with a sly director of snuff film operations. Bunners has a modest performance, but if you accept it, let it sink in, you’ll experience his devilishly, rugged good looks and sophisticated business intelligences just ooze out into a white collar sleaze, perfectly suitable with Bunners’ method on his character. His production crew, played by Michael Greiling, Axel Hartwig, Beat Marti, and Marcel Schneider, are equally skeezy in a choreographic manner whom each have a role to play. Rounding out the cast is Christian Samuel Weber, Anja Margoni, Alina Sophia Wiegert, and Margarita Ruhl.
Seiler’s “True Love Ways” is open to many different interpretations. One that seems to bubble up over and over again in the analytical gear works is that could the entire ordeal, Séverine’s ordeal, be all a lie. Not just a single cell lie, but a couple of angles that undercut the linear option laid before the viewers. For instance, the first lie would be that the dark, heinous snuff producers are all in Séverine’s head. Too many coincidences from the specifics from her dreams to come true in such a manner and she always has this mysterious ailment, near the beginning, that’s never explicitly explained. Second lie would be is this Séverine embraces the darkness of her captors; is she herself unstable after the ordeal that the very sever boredom of regular life? The predictability of it all from her vivid dreams have turned her to seek the man who wants to exploit her and who “freed” her from the incompetent men in her life – Tom, her father, etc. Seiler’s abstract bookends shed light upon slithered clues that reveal potential possibilities of where Séverine’s stands as a hero or anti-hero lead character.
MVDVisual and Synergetic Distribution present “True Love Ways” onto home video DVD. Like the monochrome tone, the DVD cover is elegantly simple with blood covered Anna Hausburg, looking disheveled and holding a blood stained axe, standing in front of a white background encasing the 95 minute film. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the black and white appears absolutely timeless, especially with Mathieu Seiler’s directorial style. However, slight aliasing can be detected in fast paced scenes that liquify the detailing and there’s a bit of digital noise amongst the black objects, like the Old Villa door. The German 2.1 stereo has slightly lower fidelity, but has a still absolute and manageable to understand. There wasn’t really much to test for dialogue depth or range as the film progresses physically rather than with dialogue so many woodsy chase sequences, running through the Villa house, and cars speeding down an isolated road to which all ambient nicely enough. There are no extras included on this release. What starts out as a melodrama between a withering couple turns barbaric under a perennial style of filmmaking. “True Love Ways” provides two-tone carnage with some gore, some sexuality, and a lot of inhuman nature that signifies what’s great about this German indie picture with cascading undertones.
An ambivalent group of people are under the relentless rampaging attack of a half man, half bunny. Kidnapped and given an unknown chemical cocktail, one man looking for creative inspiration in a quiet snowy woodland becomes forced to be the object of experimentation by armed and dangerous thugs, transforming him into a vicious hybrid seeking only one desire…fresh pussy. Shredding through every single body who stands in the beast’s path, the chances of surviving the snowy night dims rapidly in the isolated Finnish Mountainside. Under the sheath of dirty fur, the unstoppable creature runs wildly with large limp genitalia flailing about, ready to stick it anywhere and into everyone with, what constitutes as, a fleshy hole.
“Bunny und sein Killerding,” otherwise known in English as “Bunny the Killer Thing,” is an insanely phallic and deranged creature feature with special needs under the madness of director Joonas Makkonen. Based off of Makkonen’s short film of the same name with a noticeably different storyline, both inhabit a mythically outlandish villain with a raging hard on and mouth agape to swallow any bulbous genitalia that’s ready for the taking. If you couldn’t tell already, Joonas Makkonen is a Finnish native and, thus, the film comes straight from Finland’s snowy landscape. München, Germany distribution company Tiberius Films releases Makkonne’s pet Bunny project onto a region 2 DVD given the reason for the German title “Bunny und sein Killerding.”
Makkonen’s unorthodox and unpredictable story scratches at being bold and unprecedented with a maniacal furry woodland animal while still being relative with the typical tropes when creating a horrific atmosphere. When dissecting what the director does best, not one character has been penned to stand above amongst the group that continues a revolving door of hero and heroine perceptions, opening up possibilities for each character on all fronts to come forth for glory. A killer bunny with a veiny stiffy looking for the freshest of the snatches doesn’t even explain the absurd juvenility that went through the creation of this film. Yet at the same time, something has to be said about the endless amount of sleazy enjoyment being had into the viewing experience. A slimy guilt residue overtakes just one piece more of your remaining morality and innocence every time Matti Kiviniemi, in a shamelessly shoddy adult bunny outfit, twirls clockwise the at least ten-inch lifelike dildo in such a menacing and manic manner that it makes turning away from the screen that much HARDer.
However, there’s plenty to dislike about this particular release and none of the negativity originates from the 2015 Finnish film. The Tiberius Films’ heavily edited treatment of this release has been reworked toward a more anti gun violence propaganda film rather than a bunny rocking out with a large cock out. About four minutes, most of it gun violence, has been purposefully omitted, resulting in a slew of choppy scenes that are attempting to piece together a coherent story. If you’re like me and never seen “Bunny the Killer Thing” before, then you may not know much better, construing a mental story about how foreign films sometimes just like to be too artsy. I did have an inkling that an edited disc was in my possession and I was unfortunately correct. The first two acts are passable in the reassembled manner, but the last act has been reduced to nothing more than shambles of it’s true, gory self and, disappointingly enough, the edit loses the required connectivity tissue needed to fire up the necessary neurons of associating scenes with one another. Pivotal scenes are harshly given the editorial boot to remove any type of explicit gun violence, leaving all overly graphic and icky parts of “Bunny und sein Killerding” involving firearms are solely on the Germany theatrical trailer.
“Bunny the Killer Thing” runs the horror comedy at an uncut 88 minutes, but the Tiberius Films upcoming Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray December release will clock in at a shocking 84 minutes. Fortunately, the DVD and Blu-ray will be presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a German and Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and a German DTS option. I won’t be able to critique either the audio or video qualities as I was sent a press screener only; however the Ari Savonen and Janne Andberg special effects and the creations by the visual effects teams along with Makkonen’s directorial style dares to be big production and reminds me a lot of what the Spierig brothers accomplished with their Aussie zombie film “Undead” in 2003. Bonus features consists of a theatrical trailer, behind the scenes featurette, and Makkonen’s 17-minute plus short film of the same title. A remarkable class act of Finland and British actors comprises the film’s lineup in this raunchy and violent horror comedy including a stunning, on-point beauty in Enni Ojutkangas, Jari Manninen, Orwi Manny Ameh, Veera W. Vilo, Roope Olenius, Hiski Hämäläinen, Vincent Tsang, Marcus Massey, Katja Jaskari, Olli Saarenpää, Maria Kunnari, and Matti Kiviniemi as Bunny the killer thing. British actors, you say? Yes! Much like the Bunny creature, the film’s a bit a hybrid itself when on the topic of dialogue. The DVD and Blu-ray will have German or Finland audio tracks with German subtitles, but the natural dialogue track will be a combination of Finnish and English! In conclusion, I watched the film, but, at the same time, I didn’t because of the extreme cuts, whether to discourage gun violence or for whatever reason, made to the original runtime that reduced the intended gruesome firefight ending to nothing more than incomprehensible scenes resembling an intense slap fight.
All Doctor Victor Wolffenstein wanted to accomplish is to invent an occult practiced serum that would permit eternal life, but his pure genius was corrupted by an egomaniacal drive during his time of research in a small village of 1930’s Germany. When Dr. Wolffenstein began gruesomely experimenting with the body parts of the resident dead, local inhabitants labeled him an abomination against humanity and God and sought to expunge him from life by cutting out his tongue and burying him alive in a wooden coffin. Before his ultimate fate, Wolffenstein injects himself with his latest serum batch and curses the villagers prior to his damnation. His serum works, giving the malevolent doctor decades to perform his vital experiments for the next 80 years, but portions of his body start to decay and rot. To keep his tissue viable, this time he steals body parts from the living!
Director Marc Rohnstock’s German gore film “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” finds residence on a callously displayed Blu-ray/DVD combo set courtesy of the blood aficionados over at Reel Gore Releasing. While the premise sounds like nothing more than one deranged doctor’s thirst to slice and dice at his little black heart’s whims, running parallel to Wolffenstein’s monstrosity narrative done in the dank dull light of a mad scientist’s bloodstained lab is the declining story of five young partygoers living life to the fullest travel to a rave festival and when their car breaks down in an eerie and isolated village, beginning the Rube Goldberg process of landing on the front door step of Doctor Victor Wolffenstein’s castle home. The two stories are structured almost purposefully divisive to distinguish on one hand the relationship ups and down of Mike, David, Tina, Jenny, and Emily and while on the other hand, the good doctor straps victims to his cold metal slab, performing invasive experiments on them, and finishing them off by slashing right into the thick of the noggin with a machete, solidifying a hard motif that eventually becomes a the doctor’s MO.
A big part of the Rohnstock 2015 gore film is Wolffenstein’s numerous machetes to the cranium kill that explodes a geyser of dark red blood all over the place. The special effects and makeup by Oliver Müller literally had the blood rushing to brain, splitting the skull to unleash the blood splatter, and Müller does offer a bit more than sustaining as a one trick pony. Realistic arm dismemberments and reattachments, decapitations, exploratory surgical openings, and much, much more are a part of this gore-God’s repertoire. So much gore is present that gore itself becomes a character. That’s saying something since Rohnstock exploits his short lived, ill-fated red shirt characters that roster many recognizable Germans such as porn star Lena Nitro and one of the great gore and shock directors Olaf Ittenbach!
Without a doubt, “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” is a labor of love that subtly borrows from the films of the director’s fandom. There’s a bit of “Evil Dead,” a piece of “Night of the Creeps,” and a flair of Hammer Horror in a mix that defines Rohnstock’s writing and director perspective and style. As the co-founder of the film’s production company Infernal Films, Rohnstock and his Infernal Films team have free reign over the overall structure, style, and tone of this fantastic flesh filleting of a film. What Infernal Films couldn’t really control was the relatively young cast of Isabelle Aring, Robin Czerny, Roland Freitag, Stephanie Meisenzahl, and Julia Stenke whom are pitted against the dual role performance of Mika Metz, playing a miserable mechanic and Doctor Wolffenstein.
Reel Gore Releasing’s gorgeously slipcovered 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo release doesn’t hold back standing behind a flick that gallops in blood, bares it all with female nudity, and even has an orifice invading creature with enough ooze to lube it’s way down with ease. Video quality wise, the image is heavily showcased in a cyan hue that’s feels unnatural. The day or brighter scenes look good enough for hi-def in the widescreen presentation in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The German DTS-HD 5.1 option with optional English subtitles is flawless in all areas of the audible tracks. There is also a DTS-HD 2.0 with optional subtitles. Bonus features include a showcase reel in a behind-the-scenes featurette, a German only bloopers reel, “Trapped & Stabbed” short film by director Marc Rohnstock, the film’s trailer, and a still image slideshow. Gore films have always been a hit or miss with this review, but “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” has reclaimed my faith in the intensity of content that’s not suitable for most viewership in one way or another.
Seeking the luxuries of peace and quiet in order to fulfill the work of an important academic theory, a young student rents out the basement of an old bunker converted into a family home. Surrounded by the solitude of snow and trees, the bunker is the perfect place for the student to concentrate on his work. Until the couple renting the bunker basement decides the student must continue the unorthodox home-schooling of their eight-year-old son to put him on the path of becoming the President of the United States. The student becomes mixed up in a peculiar family’s ambitious affair twisted far from normalcy and teetering on the borderline on insanity.
“Der Bunker” is the first feature film from writer-director Nikias Chryssos and Chryssos delivers an artistically abstract film about the modernistic conventional ways of growing up through childhood told through an obsolete perspective. Produced in Germany, the film makes light of how parents raise and shelter their children, especially their sole child. The home setting is literally a bunker, a fallout shelter from the age of war. “Der Bunker” particularly points out the American child raising culture with Klaus, the eight-year-old son of mother and father, going through semi-strict tutoring of memorizing the every nation’s capitals in efforts of becoming, one day, the President of the United States. Chryssos overkills the symbolism column with continuously displaying the staleness of a stuck-in-routine in over-parenting from the outdated 1950’s style of the clothes and retrofitted bunker to the eight-year-old Klaus being depicted by a 30-something actor Daniel Fripan.
Fripan is one of four cast members to star in Chryssos film and the only actor portraying a named character with Klaus, leaving all others generically labeled with father, mother, and the student; however, Klaus and the Student are essentially the same person, a dual presence who start off polar opposites that are trapped inside the bunker and looking to break free from it’s buried confines when their individual identities begin to blur. Fripan’s key to “Der Bunker” working conceptually as the ‘man-child’ with Fripan’s attributed short stature, innocently mature face, and a well-performed immature persona that solidifies the Klaus role as nothing more than child forced to grow externally, but not internally. Pit Bukowski’s more of an automaton when we first meet him wondering through the snowy terrain in search of the bunker. His Student character starts to dwindle as he literally becomes a fixture of the bunker as Klaus starts to shine and thrive in not only his studies but in his maturity, confronting his Mother’s will. Bukowski’s internal switch goes dynamically well with Fripan even though their physical façades remains intact. Mother and Father are portrayed by Oona von Maydell, daughter of “Das Boot’s” Claude-Oliver Rudolph, and David Scheller and both compliment each other by donning an opposite reversal of roles where Mother is the stern, firm hand of the family and Father stays home to clean and be a teacher for Klaus.
Chryssos’ telling of the family and the Student’s psychosexual relationship between the story’s bookends goes above and beyond the Oedipus complex. Oona von Maydell’s Mother has a power fastening all the male characters in an intriguing way despite her minor, yet undesirable, physical deformity plaguing as a patch on her right leg and also despite that her rational stemming from a grave voice, connected to her deformity, comes from beyond their world. As if destined to play the part, Maydell acts the lead as the family’s matriarch while also being subtly coy and provocative to bluntly upfront about her sexuality as a means of control; Maydell seemed very comfortable with her onscreen upper torso nudity in some awkward and uncomfortable scenes. Her onscreen husband, David Scheller, deems himself an academic, an educated man with knowledge more vast than that of the outside world because of this thirst for literature. Yet, Scheller plays a scattered Father whose torn between being a literal mentor, the punisher, and the glue to keep the bunker from being engulfed by giving into Mother’s symbiotic celestial being. Father copes with heavy medication that literally warps his mind when he can’t seem to control everything from the Student’s appetite to his convincing of the Student to take on the tutoring role for Klaus, even if it’s not plainly displayed. Scheller does a remarkable performance breaking down his character to a crumbling lame duck.
“Der Bunker” and the bizarre go hand-in-hand. Only a unique mindset with skewed vision could have pulled together such a twisted dark comedy tale of the mortal coil in holding your children to your hopes and dreams for them. Colorfully unapologetic, “Der Bunker” canisters another world sluggishly revolving through multiple levels of layers of psychosexual and frustrating concepts that flaunts a conventional cinema defiance attitude to establish bold filmmaking possibilities. In short, director Nikias Chryssos shoots high and doesn’t miss with his first run. The Artsploitation Blu-ray release features a vividly clear anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 presentation of the Kataskop Film Production. Audio options include a Dolby Digital German 5.1 Surround sound with very detailed optional English subtitles. An abundant of bonus material is hard to pass up, especially with a director’s commentary and deleted scenes that expand more about the character’s traits and backgrounds. Rounding the extras are outtakes and trailers from Artsploitation film arsenal. This Blu-ray release is meticulously thought out to deliver a high caliber video and sound quality for such as odd German film concerning one youngish boy’s progressional path of self-reliance from a sheltered life style.