Schramm, digs into the neurons and synapses of a deranged and troubled killer which makes this film an intelligently banal masterpiece
Director and Cult film maker Jorg Buttgereit has made a career out of creating unique and provocative works. Often controversial and transgressive projects that have challenged and appalled mainstream audiences, from banned video-nasty Nekromantik (1987), Der Todesking (1990) and Nekromantik 2 (1991).
Schramm is a surreal and loose interpretation of theoretical criminology profiles of Personality Disorder Psychotic serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, (who was apprehended just a few short years before the release of the film). Buttgereit wisely chose to use 16mm film, which adds considerably to the artistic grit and overall menace, as well as the non-linear storytelling that keeps the viewer appropriately disorientated throughout.
Lothar Schramm (Florian Koerner von Gustorf), dubbed The Lipstick Killer by the German media, is experiencing flashbacks and appalling memories of his abject life of rejection, physical self harm and paranoid despair as his life is draining away after a fatal accident. The only positive, uplifting element in Scrhamm’s life is his neighbour, Marianne (Monicka M) a prostitute, who treats him with kindness and generosity, but does not show any sexual interest in him. Marianne approaches Schramm with a request to drive her to a wealthy new client which he accommodates. This act of kindness bonds the neighbours, but also sets in motion a series of deviously demented acts that is very troubling to witness and adequately absorb. The dark humour is surprisingly complex and when mixed with brutal behaviour, gratuitous violence and viscera leaves a very confusing aftertaste that is difficult to quantify.
The obvious and non-sophisticated symbolism of Schramm destroying every opportunity for salvation is refreshing and in honest keeping with the candour of his personality when committing his crimes. A Christian couple proffer divine salvation whilst Marianne can provide a more substantial and realistic redemption, but ultimately Schramm is unable to accept or reciprocate of either. Florian Koerner von Gustorf’s performance is appropriately understated and awkward which only adds to his realistic performance.
Schramm on the surface is an experimental, low-budget and lewd film, yet equally, is an intelligently crafted and defiant piece of art that should have established Buttgereit as one of the most innovative cult voices of his generation. The vulgarity and primordial approach to filmmaking is obviously quite challenging to modern mainstream audiences, but there is a more substantial artistry on display here. Buttgereit clearly attempted to provoke an esoteric discussion and response to his narrative which Schramm easily achieves with grimy and sleazy abandon. There is no gloss or eloquent discussion of the psychology of the psychopath here, Schramm is the product of his chemistry and choices. His dreams fluctuate between a humane connection and pronounced aggression, fragments of restraint underpinned by shocking acts of sadism and sexual depravity that includes necrophilia and an astonishingly graphic scene of self mutilation that is as creative in its execution as it is shocking.
The imagery of Schramm is nauseating and repulsive at times, but the emotion evoked is genuine and raw. His sexual deviance plays out under the watchful eyes of his mother, in the form of a portrait on the wall as well as a disembodied vagina dentata which regularly haunts him between sessions of masturbation and necrophilia. The viewer is bombarded with fragmented and grotesque visions, but there is a sublime beauty underneath the macabre veneer. We are in the hands of a capable, yet experimental, filmmaker and the experience is daunting and often distressing, but there is a mastery and purpose here which is hard to find in most genre pieces.
The Blu-ray disc includes multiple extras (it is an Arrow Video package after all) including a quirky stop motion animation“sequel” called Schramm Redux as well as a fun Making Of that is a must watch for anyone interested in Indie filmmaking.
DISC DIRECTOR-APPROVED LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- HD transfer overseen by the filmmakers
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Limited edition digipak packaging featuring new artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Limited edition certificate
- Set of 5 exclusive Schramm “polaroid” postcards
- Soundtrack CD
- Limited edition 60-page book
DISC 1 [BLU-RAY] – ‘SCHRAMM’
- Archival audio commentary with director/co-writer Jörg Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen
- Archival audio commentary with actors Florian Von Gustorf and Monika M
- Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt: Scenes from the Afterlife of Lothar Schramm (2019) – brand new animated short film sequel to Schramm made by award-winning filmmaker and stop-motion artist Robert Morgan, produced exclusively for this release
- Take My Body: The Journey of a Blow-up Doll – writer Kier-La Janisse on how she came to be the owner of a particularly interesting piece of Schramm memorabilia
- Jörg Buttgereit in conversation with Arrow Video’s Ewan Cant at the 2019 Offscreen Film Festival
- The Making of Schramm – archival behind-the-scenes documentary
- Mein Papi – Jörg Buttgereit short film available in HD for the first time ever and with optional director audio commentary
- Jesus – Der Film (1995) – short film segment directed by Jörg Buttgereit
- Two short films by Schramm producer Manfred Jelinski: Orpheus in der Oberwelt (1970) and Ein Ku’ze’ Film übe’ Hambu’g (1990)
- Extensive image gallery
- Jörg Buttgereit Trailer Gallery
DISC 2 [CD] – ‘SCHRAMM’ SOUNDTRACK – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
- CD featuring the complete Schramm score
60-PAGE BOOK – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
- Exclusive perfect-bound book featuring new writing from Virginie Selavy and Graham Rae, all illustrated with new artwork and original archival stills
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