Lucker The Necrophagous Review
In 1986 a then 25 year-old Johan Vandewoestijne unleashed upon the poor Belgian community his horror opus Lucker The Necrophagous. His move was a retaliatory one, in lieu of several studios turning down his previous project ideas. In a bid to prove he had something unique and truly disturbing to offer the film industry he came up with the unlikely idea of filming a bad man randomly murder women and then having sex with their cold, stiff bodies. Funding himself with a budget of $30,000 and just enough 16mm film to shoot over an hour’s worth of material, he took to the streets and realized his depraved vision. However, despite the film generating generally positive word of mouth from gore hounds - though scathed by the press - it did pretty terrible business on account of being poorly distributed by its licenser VDS and their sub-distributor BDM. The company ended up folding, which saw Lucker’s negatives being transferred to the recent curator, who destroyed the film elements despite the director having full control over them. That left Vandewoestijne with all but a cruddy U-Matic tape with forced Dutch subtitles as his legacy. For the past twenty years or so Lucker has made the rounds through VHS and DVD bootlegging but now Johan is back, and this time he’s revised his film into a definitive director’s cut.
The story goes a little something like this: Three years ago John Lucker (Nick Van Suyt) murdered and raped eight women. He was subsequently captured and thrown into an asylum, where he now lays motionless on a regularly monitored bed. One evening Lucker suddenly awakens from his slumber, kills a doctor and steals his shades. He then dons the shades and tricks the doctor’s nurse girlfriend into thinking he’s her boyfriend; kills the girl, rapes her corpse and drives on home. While sitting in the dishevelled car he stumbles across a news report of his escape, which goes on to mention that one of his past victims, Cathy Jordan (Helga Vandevelde), survived her vicious ordeal. Well now Lucker’s real pissed, and he’ll stop at nothing to see her dead….and possibly raped again.
I sit here struggling to summarize just how tedious a film Lucker really is. I like to think I’m observant and astute enough to talk about film on an intelligent level but in the case of Johan Vandewoestijne’s dire horror debut I simply wish to write “Pure shit” and be done with it. But we don’t do that here at Times, so I suppose I should at least put some effort into ridiculing this cinematic travesty.
Lucker seems to be primarily designed for those with an unflinching desire to sit through sadistic movies in which narratives don’t exist. Far be it from me to sound all high and mighty on the subject matter; I’m guilty myself of taking in one or two sordid delights, yet I wonder what the whole point of Lucker really is? The trouble I find is that director Vandewoestijne doesn’t have a clue as to what makes a good film. There isn’t a single idea to be found in regards to making something that remotely resembles some form of entertainment. The only selling point is a raw and visceral turn of events, which become mind-numbingly bad after about the second or third death, which includes some raping I might add...except for when Lucker kills guys - he doesn’t rape guys. A man’s gotta have scruples after all.
Vandewoestijne’s total naivety and yawn-inducing sense of pacing inadvertently creates one unintentionally amusing, though considerably dull set-piece after the next. The man has no restraint whatsoever. Why does he feel that his audience wishes to sit through prolonged staring and screaming for lengths of ten minutes at a time? My god, I thought the final act would never end. The director’s idea of staging effective horror is by repeatedly bashing heads against walls, to little effect other than showcasing badly post-dubbed wailing; thrusting the occasional knife in the general area of one’s face; and of course mercilessly raping poor, dead prostitutes. And that’s where Lucker’s notoriety ultimately stems from. In what is undoubtedly the film’s most incessantly lurid scene, ol’ Lucker takes an unknowing prozzie (a scarred for life Let Jodts) home, cuffs her to the bed and murders her. He then sits in her apartment, I kid you not, for an astonishing four weeks (and this is mentioned in the newly created director’s blurb), before her stinking, decayed body is ripe enough to his liking. We’re then treated to five minutes’ worth of Nick Van Suyt’s bare arse bobbing up and down, while he rests on top of a black, slimy prop. When he’s finished a massive plot-hole sets in as two of the working girl’s prostitute friends go to visit her, because they’re worried that she’s been missing for one week! Sorry, am I missing something here? Even the director can‘t fix his own director‘s cut.
And that’s how it continues to roll. It’s one violent, misogynistic, nonsensical exercise after the next but the question is “Why should we care about any of this?” There is absolutely no attempt made in telling even a half decent story. There’s no protagonist to root for, and I’m sorry but there’s no way I’m calling Cathy a protagonist. She’s just another drone character, with not one iota of personality to set her apart from anyone else. Vandewoestijne could have realistically took pains to set her up, give her a life, a history and something worth fighting for but instead she’s woefully misplaced; a vapid presence, merely called upon in the final third to put Lucker out of his misery. As for the seedy old bastard himself, we watch him carry the film for the entire duration as his character continues to see Cathy in every other woman he
But it’s not just a host of glaring narrative failures that sees Lucker reside at the bottom of the shit heap. It’s just about inept in every other respect. The acting is laughably bad; we have Belgian performers delivering terribly stilted English, with the dialogue being poorly looped over the top. Worse still is the truly abysmal editing. I should note that Lucker is written, produced, directed and edited by this same chap. Vandewoestijne cuts the film like he’s cutting lettuce for lunch. The eye barely registers any info before he shifts to the next shot like a mad man; there’s no sense of structure at all and his method all but destroys any attempt in creating tension. And that’s before mentioning his pretentious flights of fancy, in which he tries to create mood through using various colour filters. We have blue, red and green hues lining the walls of many a decrepit apartment, but Christ on a bike, this aint no Argento. Furthermore, the film’s supposed saving grace - its horror - feels not only forced but is executed on an amateurish level, with terribly staged shots that linger way past the point of believability. The director savours his moments for sure, but there’s nothing quite like desensitising a crowd and invalidating your intended shock value, eh?
Oh, Lucker delivers the pain alright, 68 excruciating minutes of it. Even the end-credits last an eternity. Egads! Why have I written so much?
There‘s perfectly nothing wrong with Synapse’s authoring here; it‘s of the usual high standards we‘ve come to expect. But Lucker was never going to look great. The new, anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer comes directly from a VHS source, and a very worn one at that. The flaws are abundant: fuzzy outlines, general tape wear and a distinct lack of definition with poor black levels and shadow detail. Colours are washed out and things really are quite drab throughout. For this director’s cut it appears as if new inserts have been shot - along with new titles - presumably to replace lost or previously intended ones. Examples include a new opening credit sequence with a skeleton (dunno where he dug that up from); a panning shot over a Belgian city; Lucker pressing some elevator buttons and Lucker again preparing some scissors over a sink prior to killing a prostitute. They stand out like a sore thumb due to their DV appearance.
The English DD Stereo track is equally as bad. Dialogue is consistently hollow, while the film’s diabolical score plods its way along with varying audio levels. There are frequent sound drop-outs and hissing, along with the aforementioned poor syncing, which altogether makes this far from memorable.
Also contained on the disc is the original, uncut Dutch tape which runs in excess of 74 minutes. Included purely as a mark of respect it doesn’t make for essential viewing, in fact it’s considerably worse, with overly long scenes showing Lucker do little more than rent videos and walk along bridges. Not surprisingly the video and audio quality also proves to be a step down.
The best thing about the disc is an interview with James Desert - the director under a new name - which runs for 36 minutes. Conducted by journalist Ronnie Pede in 2005, this proves to be an insightful feature which covers all the basics. Desert talks about where his idea originally came from and how he set out to fight against the Flemish establishment which had refused to acknowledge any of his work; clearly to this day he still finds the industry somewhat backward, to which he doesn’t mince any words. He goes on to mention the film’s generally awful press feedback and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the destruction of the original footage. This leads on to the eventual sourcing of alternative tapes, which brings up to speed with today and the film’s reconstruction. Desert details how he wanted to re-insert previously discarded footage, which was removed at the behest of the film’s distributors at the time; he also explains deleting scenes from the original release for this director’s cut. He appears to be genially pleased by the restored picture and sound, profusely praising the overall image, but from the clips which are interspersed, not to mention the original being included on the disc, there really is little difference to be noticed. The production process is touched upon, which includes a mention of actor Nick Van Suyt (who sadly passed on a few years ago), researching particular subject matter and the directing experience overall, of which Desert hated. As a result he’s since produced, which inevitability brings about talk of Desert’s previous and current production duties. It finishes with location discussion and cinematic inspirations. Overall, James Desert comes across as a decent, albeit jaded, chap, who has managed to survive well enough in such a cutthroat industry.
Yes, Lucker is a shocking and offensive film - in how terribly it’s all put together that is. In fact I believe I can quite confidently say that Lucker is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the worst films ever made. Now bare in mind that as of yet I haven’t seen every film ever made (I’m still working on it), but I think the odds are good on this one. It’s a shame to see Synapse put out even this trash, which seems way beneath them.
I need to get this thing out of my house, pronto, so I may as well offer it out to one of you sicko’s reading. The first person to leave a comment telling me the name of the film (how’s that for half-arsed) will have this personally delivered to them by me. It’s not often I’m charitable, but ya know, needs must and all.
“See you in hell, suckers!”
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Last updated: 18/04/2018 23:26:30