Killer Condom (1996)
By: M. Walsh on October 31, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 1.45:1 (Non-anamorphic). German DD 2.0. 107 minutes
The Movie
Director:Martin Walz
Starring: Udo Samel, Peter Lohmeyer, Iris Berben, Marc Richter, Leonard Lansink
Screenplay:Ralf Konig, Martin Walz
Country: Germany
AKA: Kondom des Grauens
It isn't often that a film features a surly, chain-smoking, gay detective with a penis that is "exactly 32 centimeters long" as its chief protagonist, but I suppose it is also quite rare to find a film in which the antagonist is a vicious, carnivorous condom designed by H.R. Giger. So it is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Killer Condom contains both of these things.

Gay detective Luigi Mackaroni (played brilliantly by Udo Samel) has a theory that the mutilated corpses that are piling up in the Hotel Quicky are the result of attacks perpetrated by the "Condom of having a horror" (the literal translation of the film's original German title, Kondom des Grauens). Of course, no one pays any attention to his seemingly crazy theory, so Mackaroni grimaces and smokes a lot of cigarettes, although I am not entirely convinced that he wouldn't have been doing exactly the same thing if someone did believe him. During a particularly tense encounter with the killer condom, Mackaroni loses a testicle and, well, wouldn't you be upset? His investigation becomes a personal quest for vengeance, eventually leading to the exposure of a conspiracy plot and a great scene of humanistic sermonising.

There is much to admire about Killer Condom. The film's many set-pieces are inventive, funny and a joy to watch. The themes of acceptance that drive the story are handled delicately and with genuine wit. From a technical standpoint, the film is very well made, a definite sign that Troma merely released the film rather than actively participating in the making of it.

Unfortunately, the pacing of Killer Condom is wildly uneven, with far too much time being spent on (well written) scenes of dialogue when what the viewer really wants to see is another humorous genital mutilation. These lulls are enough to, unfortunately, diffuse some of the film's funniest moments, a real shame considering how solid so much of this production actually is. Also, at almost 2 hours, Killer Condom is far, far too long.

A mixed bag, to be sure.
I remember seeing Killer Condom on SBS and wondering what the film would look like if it ever made it to DVD. Well, now I know, although I wish very much that I didn't. More than living up to the high standards set by other Troma releases, the transfer here is of bootleg VHS quality. It is non-anamorphic, in the incorrect aspect ratio and has non-removable subtitles. Black levels deserve a mention, only due to the fact that they often resemble an undulating sheet of satanic moss. Colours bleed all over the place. Image clarity is obviously something that Troma care very little about and at times the level of detail is so low that I literally couldn't see what was going on.
I will attempt to sum up the uninspiring sound mix using the native tongue of the makers of the film: vollständig und äußerst schrecklich. Volume levels fluctuate wildly, the sound effects and music have absolutely no dynamics and the entire mix sounds limp and hollow.
Extra Features
Although very similar to many Troma releases, the extras package found here is still an an enticing one. The Killer Photo Gallery is a little lame, and Tempting Tromabilia, a collection of promotional films and material, is shameless even by Troma's standards, but the Tour of Troma is a lot of fun (although it is becoming somewhat akin to Umbrella's An Eye for Horror in terms of sheer redundancy). The crown jewel, however, is a very funny, and really quite endearing, commentary by the film's director, Martin Walz, and the man who provided the special effects for the film, Herr Nekromatik himself, Jorg Buttgereit. The pair laugh, get drunk, laugh some more and generally behave like the kind-hearted German gentlemen I'm sure they are. Insights are given into the production and origins of the film, including shooting locations and censorship information, but you'll be too busy chuckling to either notice or care. As a side note, the Troma Intelligence Test and the Coming Distractions have again been removed at the bequest of the OFLC.
The Verdict
Intelligent, well made and very funny, Killer Condom is also overlong and far too reliant on its one-joke premise to drive the plot through its many flat spots. There is still enough good material to warrant a rental at the very least, although fans of the films may want to seek out a release with a more polished audio/visual presentation.
Movie Score
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