Monsters of Arthouse (2013)
By: Devon B. on September 25, 2015 | Comments
Target Media | All Regions, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | German DD 2.0 | 180 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: J÷rg Buttgereit
Starring: Christoph J÷de, Annika Meier, Sebastian Graf, Dieter Hebben, Bettina Lieder
Writer: J÷rg Buttgereit
Country: Germany
Fans of Jörg Buttgereit's films will have to hold out a little longer for his next effort, a collaborative effort called German Angst. Fans of his very, very silly play Captain Berlin Versus Hitler can enjoy more of his stage productions with the release of Monsters of Arthouse. The DVD collects three plays: Green Frankenstein, Sex Monster! and Video Nasty.

Green Frankenstein…I'm not really sure what's up with Green Frankenstein. It seems like a group of people doing the German dub for a kaiju eiga, but there are early indications that there is more going on. There are interjections discussing monster movies that break up the people spouting lines that could've been in War of the Gargantuans.

As can be expected given its premise, there's not a lot of action to Green Frankenstein, unless the viewer imagines the situations that are described in the play. Aside from a few funny lines, this play will probably appeal most to people that really want to read Buttgereit's book about Godzilla but aren't able to read it because they don't know German.

Sex Monster! appears to be the second portion of the same production. The cast are back and the setup's the same, but now instead of a kaiju eiga the subject matter is closer to Bad Biology. The story is of two friends, one rumoured to be hung like John Holmes' big brother, the other insecure about his much smaller member. When the first friend dies the other friend receives his penis via transplant, but there are some unforseen side effects.

In place of the kaiju eiga discussion of Green Frankenstein, Sex Monster! has facts about penises. Therefore, if Green Frankenstein was one for people that wanted to know what Buttgereit thinks about Japanese monster movies then Sex Monster! is one for people that want to know what he thinks about penises. This set up allows for more juvenile comedy, so it's generally the more amusing of the first two plays. I was more interested in the subject matter of Green Frankenstein, but because Sex Monster! had even less stage action I started viewing it if it were a radio play, so I got more engaged with the story.

Lastly on the disc is Video Nasty, a story about a couple getting used to their VCR. They've hired a movie that features a doctor/anthropologist having a little bit of trouble because bodies in the hospital where she works keep getting interfered with. She is approached by an FBI agent and they follow the clues to a remote island that is overrun with cannibals and zombies.

While there are other films that get a look in, it should be clear from the synopsis that Video Nasty is based closely on Zombie Holocaust. I think some jokes get lost in translation in Video Nasty, because the audience laugh at stuff that seemed like normal dialogue in the English subtitles. I turned on the German subs to see if I was missing something that was being said, but it still seemed like standard dialogue after I'd double checked the lines so I'm not sure why people were laughing. Aside from giving the characters the same names as horror movie directors, this is a pretty straight retelling of Zombie Holocaust. The theatre setup of the previous two plays has been simplified so now the production is almost exclusively thespians talking into stage mics, so it's literally a retelling, with no action to speak of. According to the booklet that accompanies the DVD this play started as a radio play, so this production is pretty close to watching a radio being performed live. I guess people used to do that back when the wireless was new, but I don't really see the point. It'd be hard to subtitle a radio play, so now this piece can reach a wider audience, but seeing people standing around on a stage curbed my ability to imagine the described action. I didn't need to do much imagining anyway since I'd actually seen most of the action in Zombie Holocaust.

I've seen three more of Buttgereit's plays than I had previously and I had a few laughs, but I can't see myself taking too many trips to these wells.
The Disc
The plays look like what they are, theatre productions captured on video. There are some grindhoused elements, but the image is clean and clear when it's meant to be. The audio has a few source based flaws like a few touches of distortion, but as with the video the tracks are fine considering the material. There are occasional errors in the subs, and the subs also can cause some destabilisation of the plays' image. The DVD has trailers for Kannibale und Liebe, Captain Berlin Versus Hitler and Green Frankenstein/Sexmonster! as well as two Super-8 punk shorts. The Super-8 punk shorts are actually two video clips directed by Buttgereit, Half Girl's "Lemmy, I'm a Feminist" and Klaus Beyer's "Shaolin Affen." Beyer is evidently some sort of cult figure who likes to cover songs, and with Osaka Popstar's "Shaolin Monkeys" he took the original recording, removed most of the vocals and sang his version over the top. I can't remember whether I first heard about this video from Osaka Popstar or Buttgereit, but seeing this video again reminded me that I much prefer the unaltered original song. The DVD also comes with a German and English language booklet and the slick is reversible and the opposite side doesn't have the FSK logo.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While I'm glad I got the opportunity to see these plays, they're not as fun as Captain Berlin was, and none of them seem like obvious choices for a cinematic presentation. Monsters of Arthouse is one for Buttgereit completests and the arty types that prefer minimalistic stage presentations.
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