Dark Divorce (2007)
By: Captain Red Eye on November 22, 2009  | 
Fox (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 87 minutes
The Movie
Dark Divorce
Director: Olaf Ittenbach
Starring: Martina Lttenbach, Daryl Jackson, Jaymes Bulter, Barrett Jones, Kamary Phillips
Screenplay: Olaf Ittenbach
Country: Germany
External Links
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In these litigious times of ours, divorce proceedings can prove somewhat draining, both financially and emotionally. When your estranged husband unexpectedly shows up on your doorstep, badly injured and prattling about his criminal associates, that's a sign that you should probably press for full custody. And when the owners of the money and cocaine your deadbeat husband ripped off subsequently kidnap your two children as leverage, well then, it's time to jump in the De Lorian and take off for the night before your wedding, putting in a quick call to the groom and telling him in as many words to go fuck himself.

In the absence of a convenient means of time travel, Natalie (Martina Ittenbach) is forced to deal with the above scenario in the most logical manner possible: by confronting the kidnappers and giving them a earful. Alas, this straightforward approach initially proves somewhat fruitless. Her demands to be reunited with her beloved offspring are swiftly met with a series of blows to the face, after which time the ever-sassy Natalie is handcuffed to a chair and rigorously taken to with a pair of gardening shears. Surprisingly resilient in the face of torture however, the heaviliy-accented matriarch promptly morphs into Seagal mode, handing out a series of beatdowns and eventually uncovering a sordid trail of goings-on that, with a bit of luck, might just lead her to her children before they are rudely shuffled loose this mortal coil.

The film starts off slowly, with the first twenty minutes devoted mainly to character exposition and appalling acting. Matters quickly heat up from then on however, and there follows plenty of good old fashioned brutality. The ample bloodshed is the film's saving grace, and won't disappoint fans of the German goremeister's previous efforts. There are defects and glaring idiosyncrasies, lots of them: the story doesn't exactly segue flawlessly, characters spend inordinate amounts of time on the telephone, the quality of the thespians involved is widely variable, the soundtrack swells to a crescendo as dying men whisper their all but inaudible final words. An extended sequence midway through is unexpectedly and possibly gratuitously homoerotic, and in a shocking breach of convention the cover features a naked man, if you can believe that. The masterly effects largely make up for the deficiencies however, and the wildly uneven screenplay just adds to the fun. At one point Natalie is threatened with the deadpan and unexpected words 'I'm going to amputate all your extremities. Then I'll cut out your tongue, sever your vocal chords and drop you off at a centre for the disabled.'

Despite all the graphically depicted gougings and other assorted wickedness the censors don't seem to have interfered with Dark Divorce. It used to be that you couldn't point a gun at a kid on screen - nowadays evidently you can use children's skulls to test the durability of various gauges of drill bit. Personally I don't care for children and I say the more of this sort of thing the better. Cling wrap is also artfully employed as a kiddie restraint, and seems to work wonders in this regard.

All in all this isn't bad stuff. The acting is generally woeful enough to be entertaining, though one or two of the performers are convincing and if Olaf has to cast his own wife in the lead to free up some cash for visuals then so be it. Ittenbach's special effects are top notch as ever, and those who like their horror with liberal doses of torture and splatter will find excesses of both on offer. Not his finest work, but well worth a look.
Shot in digital and presented in 2.35:1, the film makes the most of its presumably miniscule budget and looks crisp with good definition throughout. Nocturnal and torture cellar scenes are nicely lit, and though the editing is somewhat erratic overall the film looks thoroughly decent.
An English 2.0. As much of the dialogue is nonsensical and/or inaudible, this proves more than adequate.
Extra Features
None. Very much a bare-bones affair, without so much as a subtitle in sight.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Not as fun or anarchic as some of Ittenbach's previous work, and not the high point of his directorial career. Nonetheless Dark Divorce isn't the steaming worthless pile of shite it is often denigrated as. Not quite anyway. Fans of Beyond the Limits and Premutos will know what to expect, namely plenty of the red red krovvy, and will likely get a kick out of the brilliant and super-gory special effects. Still, some acting lessons for Frau Ittenbach wouldn't go astray.

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