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Flashback (2000)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Michael Karen

Starring:
Valerie Niehaus/Jeannette
Xaver Hutter/Leon
Alexandra Neldel/Melissa
Simone Hanselmann/Lissy
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Jeannette was tossed in the nuthouse after witnessing her parents’ murder at the hands of a cross-dressing, sickle-wielding serial killer (Paul Reubens???) when she was a wee child. Ten years later, now apt to function in society, she’s released and gets a job as live-in French teacher for a couple of rich snotty teens. Peeps imminently start leaking red as it appears as though Jeanette’s murderous acquaintance is back to finish the job he started ten years earlier. Damn! Teens die SO WELL!
THE LOWDOWN
This German teen slasher was released in Germany in the year 2000 on the heels of the “teen horror” phenomenon that “Scream”, its sequels and its clones unleashed upon us. We, North American residents, are getting it slapped down our alley now via Lions Gate Home Entertainment. Is that good or bad news? Read on Tonto…

Although this flick is clearly a “trendy” teen slasher leftover, it does have a lot going for it, especially if you groove on the slasher subgenre. First off, it’s German; meaning that the panoramic scenery was astounding (mountains, waterfalls…nice!) and that the attention to visuals and atmosphere were heavy-handed. I don’t know what it is with the Germans, maybe they’re all born with a camera up their wazoo, but lots of their films wind up looking mucho slick; "Anatomie", "Run Lola Run", "Das Experiment" and "The Pool" are all films that were highly successful in that respect and "Flashback" is no exception.

From a narrative standpoint, I was pretty much intrigued the whole way. The story was gripping, the mystery interesting, the lead character fascinating, the teen girls cuties (Alexandra Neldgel was so “wow”) and the turn of events, although somewhat familiar at times, still kool to re-visit. All of the known slasher conventions were in this shack (boo scares, Halloween-like POV shots, usual stalk sequence horror tricks), but they were expertly executed and that made a whole lot of difference. Also, the fact that this bad boy didn’t go skimpy on the plasma while delivering a high brutality factor, pretty much made sure that I stayed on its side. We get some freaking vicious and stretched out kills here and I for one have never seen so many damn house pets maimed in one movie. SPCA take note of this film! Gore hounds rejoice!

Then there’s the twist. It’s a “trendy” teen slasher guys, you gotta have it in there, otherwise it’s not a complete drink. One good thing about it was that there wasn’t a hint of CULPRIT MONOLOGUE spat out to pollute our ears. THANK YOU! Now although the “surprise” pretty much negated everything that happened before it and opened up the door for plot holes galore, I made myself buy it. I had to! The flick forced me! I was having such a blast, so I went along with it. The pleasurable carnage that ensued the “revelation” also helped to make me forget the “lapse in logic” and kept my retinas on the sadistic fun that was being displayed on my TV set. Man, this relentless “killer” sure knows how to clean house with pizzazz!

On the downside, apart from its embrace of the obvious hip horror “teen” conventions which led to some unoriginality, my biggest beef with this flick was its attempt at lightening things up with tacky humor. Apart from one funny ass gag (guy in car), I didn’t appreciate the bumbling cops or the switch to “goofy” mode that the score would take to try to make unfunny scenes humorous (the dildo stuff was lame). That kind of tarnished the vibe because, let’s face it, what was going on in this slaughterhouse was far from freakin' funny. Again, a case of watering down the bleakness for mass consumption.

In the end, "Flashback" did feel “déjà vu” in some aspects, but it was still a hoot to witness throughout. The film was, at times, very clever (the way they left the door open for the sequel was priceless) and delivered all I needed from a slasher fix…well…except for the tit shots, of course: they’re not kool in “hip” slashers for some odd reason. SICKLE THIS!
GORE
Where do I begin? We get lots of sickle throat rips, lots of maimed house pets, a fork impaling, a stab in the male genital area (ouch!), a body put through a snow plow (chunky) and lots and lots and lots of red splat. Slap this one in the microwave and dig in!
ACTING
Valerie Niehaus (Jeannette) had such screen presence and handled her part's different levels like a champ. Xaver Hutter (Leon) and hottie Alexandra Neldel (Melissa) also did what they had to do with talent and swell trendy wear. I guess Simone Hanselmann (Lissy) was alright…her part wasn’t too fleshed out. Cute though.
T & A
Teen girls talk about having a wet t-shirt contest but we never see the wet t-shirt contest take place. 'Nuff said.
DIRECTING
OH YEAH! This flick is one good looking beeyatch. I’m talking sweeping camera moves, breathtaking cinematography, lots of dread-filled mood and creative shots galore. Eye candy with extra sugar!
SOUNDTRACK
The soundtrack was comprised of “okay” pop/rock and techno-like tunes. As for the score, when it was in straight slasher mode, it was decent, but it made me want to HURL when it went in “yuk-yuk” mode.
BOTTOM LINE
There’s no doubt that I boogied with this violent slasher from start to finish. But I’ve seen this type of stuff mucho times before and I have a feeling I’ll most likely forget this apple pie in a couple of days or so. Although I gave both films the same rating, "Anatomie" was a much more memorable German slasher than this puppy killer. Having said that, “Flashback” was very competent at doing what it did within the playground in which it was bouncing around and I had a riot sitting through it. So if it’s an expertly directed trendy teen slasher with cute girls, fly images, lots of cell phones and emphasis on gruesome kills that you’re looking for: you’re at the right horror arcade. Pop in a couple of quarters and have fun! NOTE TO SELF: Buy a sickle…why…don’t know yet. I’ll find use for it….I know it. HeHe He…
BULL'S EYE
This Lions Gate home release of the film had the worst dubbing ever. It was just so "off" that it was tad distracting. Some subtitles would’ve been nice.
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