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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Schramm - Schramm (Blu Ray/ CD) [Arrow Video - 2019]

Of all the films in the serial killer genre, Schramm stands as one of the more grimly heady, disorientating, and surreal. The film takes us into the mind of a middle-aged and balding German sexual serial killer, and his last few days on earth. Here from the folks at Arrow Video UK is a new two-disc set of this mid 90’s film-bringing together on the Blu Ray a high definition print, and a new short semi sequel, and few new extras.The second disc is a CD taking in the films sinisterly drab-yet-unbalancing soundtrack- with the  set been topped off with a 60 page book.

Schramm( aka Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer) appeared in 1993, and was the 5th film from controversial & transgressive Berlin-based filmmaker Jörg Buttgereit, who caused quite a real stir in both the horror and art house genres with his 1987 film Nekromantik- that told of a young couple who enjoyed all things dead & having sex with them. To say that Schramm is both bluntly shocking & disturbing is an understatement really- as (most) of the effects still grimly stand up, and the shifting/jarring no-linear feel of the just over hour-long film still mangers to suck you in and keep you held.
 
The film centers around Lothar Schramm, a psycho-sexual killer who has been dubbed by the media “The Lip Stick Killer”. The film begins with him seemingly lying dead on the floor of his squalor apartment-covered in white paint and his own blood, as he’s fallen off a ladder after trying to repaint his apartment after his last killing. As we move through the film we travel back and forth between different key moments in his last few days- following his relationship between his sex worker neighbour, his psychosexual activities( including his own genital mutilation) and killings, as well as his own sliding derange psyche that often find us driving into surreal and disturbing imagery like a teeth and hairy vagina creature, heads splitting open with throb wounds, severed legs, dental eye pulling and more.
 
The film features a very small cast, with really most of the screen taken up by the killer- who is played very effectively and believable by Florian Koerner von Gustorf- who really does put his all both psychical and mentally into the role. The only other constant featured character is his prostitute neighbor Marianne- played again with great realism by Monika M. Other characters briefly pass in & out of Schramm's life and his flat, but mainly this is a very sparse film actor wise- but boy does it make up for it with the often shifting and deranged imagery. I was more than familiar  with Buttgereit's controversial underground arthouse horror film Nekromantik, but until this set hadn’t seen Schramm- and I must say it is a powerful, at times puzzling, but extremely impactful serial killer film- sure you’ll have to at least enjoy facets of arthouse cinema- due to the way the film unfolds/is edited- but it never becomes too ‘arty’, remaining focused and shocking in it’s unfold.
 
Moving onto this new set, and the new print- I’m not sure if one gets a terrible amount of clarity or depth from a fairly grimy and lo-fi film such as this, but I guess the blood looks redder & the blend of bleak color pallets become a bit more defined. Moving onto the extras- and we get a few new things, firstly we have a sort of shortly semi-sequel that leads on from the original film- this comes in at around the nine-minute mark and is animated in this very sort of wet/ sleazed doll fashion- which of course perfectly fits the tone of the original film- it’s an interesting expansion of the original films universe, and can set up so it plays directly after the first film. Next, we get an around a forty-minute on-camera interview with Jörg Buttgereit- this is most fascinating, as it finds him discussing his whole career, and reassessing his most important works today. Next, we get Mein Papi Jörg- one of his first films, which is offered here in HD for the first time. We get a new interview with cult movie fan/ experimental films fest organizer Kier-La Janisse – discussing how she landed up with one of the films most infamous prop- the female sex doll torso.
We also get a good selection of stuff brought over from past editions of the film- these take in two commentary tracks- one with Buttgereit and the films co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen. And one with the films two key actors. Next, we get two more early films from Schramm producer Manfred Jelinski- there’s Orpheus in der Oberwelt from 1971, which runs around 40 minutes. And Ein Ku'ze' Film übe' Hambu'g from 1990 which runs around nine minutes- both are interesting enough experimental films. We get a making of Schramm doc, imagery gallery, and Buttgereit film trailer gallery.
 
The second disc in the set is the original soundtrack recording- this features twenty tracks/cues, and comes in at the forty nine-minute mark. The CD features both the musical score, sound effects, and some dialogue from the film- so it really works well to submerge you in the unbalancing & unwell sonics of the film. The score moves from brooding raising synth string work-outs, onto simmer and sickly ambeince, through to subtle tone shifting organ dwells, onto bounding and dark neoclassic waltzes, though generally unsettling synth scaping. It’s a good & effective soundtrack- that very nicely mangers to keep the films distinctively unwell, off-kilter and surreal atmosphere alive and well in sonic form.
 
The finished version of the release apparently features a perfectly bound 60-page booklet-  featuring new writing from both Virginie Selavy and Graham Rae, as well as new artwork and original archival stills. Also, you get five Polaroid postcards, and ltd edition certificate- I can't comment on any of these, as we were just sent a screener disc and a CD of the soundtrack.
 
In finishing if you’re a fan of the serial killer genre or generally transgressive and darkly arty film you'll need to see Schramm- as it really is a very shocking, impactful and grimly rewarding film. This new Arrow Video pressing offers up some neat new extras, as well as past release extras- making it well worth a purchase- and of course, added to this you get the soundtrack and new booklet.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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