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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Jörg Buttgereit

Florian Koerner von Gustorf
Monika M.
Franz Rodenkirchen

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What's it about
After a fluke accident, a serial killer has vivid memories while he lay dying on the floor. Thoughts of some of his victims and his call girl neighbor haunt his remaining moments of life.
Is it good movie?
Lothar Schramm, played wonderfully by Florian Koerner vol Gustorf is a serial killer who is cleaning up after he has enjoyed his latest victims. After a freak accident he falls and lay dying in a pool of his own blood mixed with white paint. What follows is a series of flashbacks and memories of the life he lead. Schramm is unlike any other serial killer odyssey in that it attempts to take you inside his mind. The memories that plague him are intertwined with the fantastic and the bizarre. It would be fitting to call this film a modern take on German Expressionism, a term used to describe many of the early, silent horror films that came out of the country. There are morbid visions of Schramm’s visit to the dentist, his experience’s with select victims and some very painful images of self torture.

Jörg Buttgereit has a keen eye for this kind of stuff. His work here reminded me of Paul Verhoeven’s early work, especially his brilliantly twisted The Fourth Man. He keeps the camera moving and has some clever ways to tell his tale. I also appreciated the music by Max Müller and Gundula Schmitz which feels like you are listening to the pounding that Mr. Schramm might actually hear. And then there is Florian Koerner vol Gustorf. His work as Lothar Schramm is terrific, whether he is in a murderous rage or giving advice to his call girl neighbor (the beautiful Monika M.), I bought it. He is also a pretty brave actor spending much of the film naked or in his underwear. He is overweight yet has no “body issues” which also works for the character.

Now with so much good about the film, why am I giving it only two and a half beers? Three words; I didn’t care. With all the talent in front of the camera, the unique style of the film and the atmospheric music, I felt nothing for Lothar or any of his victims. The script gives us an interesting story, but considering we are delving into the mind of a serial killer, there is absolutely no insight given as to why he is what he is. I’m not saying I wanted a “mommy made me do it” type of thing, but I just wanted something to help me understand him. Schramm is a nifty looking package that seems like it is empty inside. Give me a reason to care, for anyone, and I might. Yet, there was none given, at least in my eyes. But at least we have a nifty eye-gouging scene and a three nails being hammered into a penis (VERY cringe worthy).
Video / Audio
Video: They put some effort into this DVD. The 1.33:1 digital transfer is terrific, especially considering the low-budget. The movie looks great, although the quality fades on some of the extras.

Audio: This is a nice German Stereo remix or you can listen to the original mono (both with optional English subtitles).
The Extras
Schramm is loaded with extras. Barrel Entertainment has created a unique, if not always interesting look at the minds behind the film.

First off, we have two Commentaries for the film, including one with Jörg Buttgereit and co-writer, Franz Radenkirchen. This is a very dull commentary that fails to give any real insight into the making of the film.

The next commentary is with actors Florian Koerner von Gustorf and Monika M. which doesn’t shed much more light on the film than the first. But Florian is a very funny guy, and both he and Monika have a lot of fun reminiscing on the film. This is the better commentary of the two.

The most entertaining part of this DVD is the Making of Schramm (35:26) and that is mainly because of Florian. I’m not kidding, this dude is funny, and if you like seeing overweight guys naked, we see more of him in this than the movie; well, not every special feature can be perfect. We also get a look at some of the gorier moments in the film and how it was done. This is one of the better "making of’s" that I’ve seen.

Next we have a couple of Jörg Buttgereit’s early Super 8 films including Captain Berlin (10:07) and Mein Papi (7:10). These are pretty amateurish shorts, which many of you reading this could probably film something much better; not really all that great of a watch. The first is a silly super hero film which looks like one of those cheap “new wave” (alternative) videos from the early eighties. And Mein Papi is home movie footage of his “papi” who had passed away; touching, but still not that involving if you don’t know him personally.

And for the music lovers, we have the band Mutter and their music video for Die Neue Zeit (10:07) which also includes a “behind the scenes”. The video is competently directed by Jörg but the song is awful. I prefer Max Müller’s score much more than his band's music, which also happens to include Florian on drums.

And if you didn’t quite get enough of Mutter, well you can watch Mutter Boxing (10:07) which is exactly as it sounds. The guys in the band step into a ring for a small audience; pointless and dull.

If you want to get a look at other Jörg Buttgereit and producer Manfred Jelinski films, we have the Trailers for “Schramm” (1:23) and also, “Nekromantic” (Original Version) (2:04), “Nekromantic” (1:52), “Nekromantic 2” (1:08) and “Der Todesking” (2:15).

And finally filling out the disc, we have a Photo Gallery (16:25), which is a slideshow with music. And a Director Filmography, it’s one of the point and click with the remote variety.
Last Call
Schramm is a visually arresting, if vulgar display of nudity, gore and insanity. Jörg Buttgereit plays with the whole serial killer horror flick while creating his own slightly unique take on it. This is a modern version of expressionism in cinema; raw, unadulterated and bizarre. But I have a hard time recommending it because I didn't care. I didn't feel sympathy for the victims, or the killer, or anyone for that matter. Yet I did find Florian Koerner von Gustorf turn as Lothar Schramm pretty damn captivating. His realistic take on the human monster worked by giving Lothar an "every man" quality that made him creepy.
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT

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