Schramm (1993)
By: Devon B. on September 21, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Region 1, NTSC. 4:3. German DD 1.0. German DD 2.0. English Subtitles. Barrel Entertainment (USA). 65 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Starring: Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Monika M.
Screenplay: Jörg Buttgereit
Music: Max Müller, Gundula Schmitz
Country: Germany
Barrel Entertainment were almost entirely responsible for my NEEDING a DVD player. Not only had they released a deluxe edition of Nekromantik, they'd also unleashed Schramm upon the world in a newly remastered, even MORE deluxe version.

Schramm is a brilliant, hallucinatory trip into the mind of a serial killer who is prone to nailing his dick to chairs. A traditional plot synopsis is almost irrelevant, as the story is the last few seconds in the life of The Lipstick Murderer. Imagine Memento, but with all the scenes shuffled and more dark humour involving door-to-door religious folk. Schramm weaves an excellent disjointed puzzle of a movie, and it's nice to see the film getting some much-deserved respect.

This is my favourite Buttgereit film, wonderfully representing his talents for imagery and symbolism. Unfortunately, it's also his least successful in terms of scoring and overall FX, though thankfully there's nothing as poorly done as the ejaculation death at the climax of Nekromantik. Despite some very odd elements, due to the insanity of the antagonist, the film is mired in reality, and is probably the only film to catalogue the post-ejaculation washing out of a sex doll torso. The camerawork is phenomenal, especially considering the budget of the project and the fact that some of the time no one was able to monitor what the camera was capturing. I am amazed each time I see the overhead revolving montage (also featured in the trailer).
The DVD presents Schramm at 1.33:1, which is good 'cause that's what it's supposed to be. No fake letterbox to enhance the film for 16:9 TVs, thank you very much, Anchor Bay. The film looks great for 16mm, and in many scenes I wouldn't have even guessed the film stock's origins. There are still some specks and some scenes with heavy grain, but overall, this release looks fantastic given the film Schramm was shot on.
The movie's has a German stereo or mono track for the purists, and handy removable English subtitles.
Extra Features
The DVD has liner notes by Buttgereit and David Kerekes.

The disc comes with two of Buttgereit's earlier short films: Captain Berlin and Mein Papi. Mein Papi is mostly of note because it allows glimpses at a very young Jörg, but Captain Berlin is pretty funny. Buttgereit plays the titular hero, sporting a Spider-Man mask, a bear cape, and yellow tights. Very silly, but amusing.

The disc is loaded with additional extras like a Buttgereit filmography, trailers for his other feature films, and an extensive still gallery. A huge plus for me was finally getting to see the making of Schramm, presented in German with removable English subs. It was lots of fun to see Florian Koerner von Gustorf claiming he took the role simply because it required him to gain 20 kilos or explaining the film and its production. Subs pop up to discredit his more ludicrous statements, such as the film taking over sixth months to film because he's working with consummate pros that sometimes shot up to two takes. Ironically his runtime claim of 60 for the finished movie minutes is closer to the "corrected" 75 minutes that the subtitle flashes. The making of also allows for cool behind the scenes stuff; it's always nice on these films to see the juxtaposition of Buttgereit's grim movie and the generally jovial sets. The behind the scenes also allows one to see how hard it must've been to rein in Florian, whose BIG objection during the filming was having to lie in paint…what an odd guy.

The biggest bonuses to the DVD are the TWO English language commentaries provided. The first features Buttgereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen. Both men are fluent, but do speak with a deliberate slowness. They clarify some points people had trouble understanding, explain some of the symbolism, joke around a bit, and generally do a good job trying to comment on things that fleet by in this accomplishedly disjointed film. They talk about the making of the film, which is cool because it's the one Buttgereit feature film that's not part of Corpse Fucking Art. Oddly, they don't mention that the French radio show Florian flips through in the car is discussing Nekromantik. My favourite tidbit of trivia is that Florian is actually driving like a madman; it wasn't special effects in the cab scenes. The commentary is interesting, entertaining, and gives insight into their examination of a serial killer's mind.

The second commentary features Flori and Monika M. They discuss the making of the film as well, but unfortunately, Flori seems subdued, presumably because he's not using his mother tongue. They don't discuss the film as much as they cover the filming, but the commentary remains entertaining. I think it would have been a much funnier ride had they just let Flori rip auf Deutsch and provided subs, but that's the closest I can come to having a complaint about this DVD.

Also included, and somewhat related to Schramm, is the Mutter video directed by Buttgereit. Florian is Mutter's drummer, and the video's kind of cool. Following it is a behind the scenes for just the video.

Also more Mutter related is a match between Flori and his bandmate that's hosted by Buttgereit labelled "Schramm boxing". They only throw body blows, so I don't think it was a real fight.
The Verdict
Barrel, they're everything all the other companies specializing in red carpet, underground horror DVDs should be. Another must have disc.
Movie Score
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