Ahh, Olaf Ittenbach, what is there to say about the German Auteur that hasn't already been written once or twice in some Finnish Blog about extreme cinema? Actually Ittenbach is much more celebrated than that - in the proper circles, that is. The German verspritzenkind (splatter kid) literally exploded onto the scene of SOV bloodshed in 1992 with The Burning Moon, a gore movie of epic proportions. Long out of print in its original, obscure VHS release, The Burning Moon now comes to us in a fine DVD from radically retro Intervision Picture Corp, and if you haven't yet, you can see what all the bloody fuss is about.
Disturbing DVD art in a fine, clear keepcase features the tagline, "Uncut. Uncensored. Unconscionable." Zack Carlson calls the movie "an anti-human masterpiece". While it's not exactly all that, it is filthy-gory and plenty of fun for those of you who don't believe in the sanctity of life. Not really a feature film, and not really an anthology, The Burning Moon burns 100 minutes following a rebellious teen as he's forced to stay home and baby-sit. The teen (played by Ittenbach) takes out his rage by telling his little sister two horrific bedtime tales.
These stories are, of course, beside the point. They both involve crazy serial killers, and exist solely to push the envelope as far as taste, decorum, and sheer brutality will allow. Ittenbach's film is certainly in love with violent death, but it's not actually as nihilistic as you'd expect. Ittenbach displays an obviously off-kilter sense of humor - the very set-up is a black joke - along with his protean ability to shred bodies on an extremely low budget. Heck, Ittenbach (who has since gone on to a very busy horror-hyphenate career) and his actors are even pretty decent while emoting, though most of the time you can tell their tongues are in their cheeks.
Of course, even with this somewhat late entry into the SOV world, the emphasis is solidly on creative and disgusting bloodshed. Not only does Ittenbach please, he blows the doors down with his finale, a ten-minute descent into hell that is legendary in its insistence on doing nothing but spreading guts around. There is plenty of over-the-top slaughter throughout the film, which keeps the pace from flagging. (We should make no mistake, this is certainly not a good film, so if you hope to judge it by any type of normal standard, you need to step off now.) Even if some of this exuberant gore clearly shows inexpensive seams, you can't argue with the joys of seeing a machete shoved through some dude's cheek.
But really, you'll want to stay for the end, which finally blasts you with that bit of sad hopelessness that imparts a tiny bit of seriousness to affairs. To get there, you'll go through hell (from the looks of it, Ittenbach's basement) which is chock-a-block with shuffling zombies gnawing on intestines, tearing flesh, and generally being blown apart by shotguns. This churns on in delighted contentment with itself for about seven straight minutes before a hellish pair of figures violently take some guy apart; corkscrewing eyeballs, drilling teeth, gutting, and literally tearing him in two. It's a bravura piece of carnage that doesn't always look totally real, but reaches unparalleled heights of practical effects savagery anyway. Sound good? Then this disc is Highly Recommended.