Originally devised and put together over a ten-year period, Olaf Ottenbach’s PREMUTOS – LORD OF THE LIVING DEAD is a very low budget splatter-fest (the cast worked for nothing, during evenings after their day jobs) that really does rate as one of the goriest movies ever made. This is not always a good thing – as audiences can tire of endless buckets of blood, but Ottenbach just about pulls it off to make this film a bearable by including a series of comical characters designed to send up German society. The movie plays like a Monty Python/Sam Raimi cross – complete with “Upper Class Twits”, “Arthur Putey” type heroes, perverted vicars, fascist gun enthusiasts, beer swigging locals, and a legion of Romero-type zombies that prove anything but scary. There’s nothing to shock here, but you have to admire the array of SFX work (mostly put together by the director) that run the whole gamut – not many films include a finale where the hero takes on hordes of the undead with an army tank.
By tackling his film in this way, Ottenbach virtually assures the movie escaping the wrath of the censors, there is no way the film can be offensive – unless of course you view his ridiculous representation of German people as a true reflection of his view of society. Like many of today’s young directors Ottenbach overdoes the tributes to classic gore movies to the point of plagiarism. References to the likes of THE EVIL DEAD, BRAIN DEAD, EXCALIBUR, NEKROMANTIK, HELLRAISER, RE-ANIMATOR, STREET TRASH, THE WILD BUNCH, and Romero’s zombie trilogy, abound and you can’t help but laugh when ancient battle scenes are depicted with Monty Python styled crusaders and medieval peasants charge around wearing costumes resembling those that Mum would make up for the kids fancy dress party.
The plot: Premutos is the fallen angel cast out of Heaven before Lucifer – and throughout history he is invoked whenever widespread bloodshed occur. Opening titles play to a mass slaughter by the Crusades, we witness the regeneration of the Dark Angel from someone’s corpse (an impressive effect, it has to be said) before it is run through by a peasant and destroyed. Cut to 1942 and a German necromancer attempts to resurrect the dark angel via the dead body of his wife, a strange potion and instructions culled from an ancient tome (styled on Tom Sullivan’s “The Book of the Dead” in THE EVIL DEAD) bearing the title “Premutos”. The attempt fails when his wife vomits up the serum and explodes. The warlock buries the remaining potion and tome in the ground his home (ala THE BEYOND) and, following another gore-soaked sequence, burn it to the ground.
We are introduced to the modern day and follow accident prone Mathias (Ottenbach), as he encounters a series of painful injuries (mostly to his groin), passing out on each occasion and receiving flashbacks concerning moments in history in which Premutos was almost revived. When Mathias’s stepfather Walter (Christopher Stacey) uncovers the ancient artifacts whilst gardening they are brought into the house and found by Mathias, this sets up a catastrophic chain of events that lead to the resurrection of Premutos.
Resembling a run through the lyrics of The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” we witness blood-soaked scenes including the crucifixion, crusades, Scottish rebellion of 1578, and the siege of Leningrad before Mathias finally mutates into the dark angel himself. This causes the dead to rise from their graves (obviously the town’s deceased were as hapless as Mathias, for almost all appear to be under the age of 40).
Cue optimum scenes of carnage as the zombies invade the town and Walter’s birthday celebrations. The party guests attempt to deal with the undead that stream into their house, via Walter’s extensive weaponry collection that include swords, pistols, machine guns, the aforementioned mentioned armoured tank and chainsaw.
Despite the low standard of acting, editing style that fails to instil audience fear, and some poorly lit sequences, the movie is well worth catching for the numerous SFX that would not look out of place in a Hollywood production. The stunt sequences involving explosions, car crashes and battle scenes are equally impressive (despite a distinct lack of performing extras due to the low budget).
This Shock-O-Rama DVD presentation comes with the original full-screen 116 minute, German language (non subtitled) version, a documentary “Making of”, a plethora of trailers for titles from the company’s catalogue, and an uncut English-dubbed version that presents us with some hilarious dialogue that would have been missed by native-language-only Philistines such as myself whilst viewing the original. “We don’t serve your kind here!” the landlord announces when the un-dead stumble into a bar resembling drunks. Upon realising that the party invaders are flesh-eating ghouls Walter picks up his sword and shouts “I won’t let you spoil my party, even if it sucks big time!” Finally, at the end of the movie a character decimates a building with a grenade and says “Wow, what a blast!” My sentiments entirely.
Carl T. Ford
Directed by Olaf Ittenbach
German language / Dubbed English
Germany / 1997 / 116 minutes.
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
Shock-O-Rama Trailer Vault
All Region. NTSC. Dolby Mono. Fullscreen
PREMUTOS: LORD OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka Premutos, der Gefallene Engel)