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Lucker the Necrophagous: Director's Cut
Portland is home to one of the world's best video stores, Mike Clark's Movie Madness, a repository of an astounding array of films numbering in the tens of thousands, with an initial and persistent emphasis on those films dubbed 'psychotronic.' Not to brag or anything, but I became a Movie Madness customer after the store was open about eight months, lurking among the then-tiny racks that held such lurid glories as Cannibal Ferox, (AKA Make Them Die Slowly - 'banned in 31 countries!') Nekromantik and others. Tucked in among the atrocities - I once told Clark I enjoyed the cannibal movies in part for the lush scenery - was a crummy VHS copy of a film called Lucker the Necrophagous (not to be confused with Luther the Geek).
Lucker, a movie almost impossible to defend on numerous levels, by all rights should have stayed tucked away, left to wither inside aging gorehounds' memories, but the still burgeoning DVD market demands it see light again, this time in a special edition Director's Cut. Lucker was a 1986 slap-in-the-face to the art-horror crowd from Belgian film student Johan Vandewoestijne. So extreme in content, it found very poor distribution on VHS, gaining mythic status as a lost slice of rancid meat. Now that it's found again, all the fun has gone out of it, and even hardcore gore completists may be disappointed.
A simple tale of a murdering rapist with a taste for necrophilia, Lucker details what happens when the title character escapes an asylum to hunt down his one surviving victim. In case you're wondering, what happens is more murdering and necrophilia. If the movie had any level of discernible skill evident, (beyond the rudimentary) any punch to the gore scenes, and didn't seem interminable and repetitive even at a sprightly 68 minutes, it would be unbearable. As it is, it parlays one or two oddly beautiful sequences, a handful of brutal but totally fake murders and a completely disgusting scene of post-mortem poontang into default cult-status.
Conceptually a four-to-the-floor shocker, the movie features a lumbering, always silent anti-hero, a few other sketched in victims, and little else, but there's that sex-with-the-dead thing. And Lucker likes them ripe. Almost 40 minutes of horrible film quality, jerky, repetitious editing and a few savage but unconvincing murders (check the head-bashing scene for uncomfortable laughability) finally give way to the piece-de-regurgitation. I swear the credits say four weeks have passed since Lucker kills his love-bunny, but characters insist it's only a week. Any road, when Lucker starts licking and rubbing up on his greasy, blackened bride, it's hideous. But then he strips down for the horizontal mambo and you realize there's a nugget of absolutely disgusting deserved notoriety to this mess (literally and figuratively).
Along the route, though, there are many wrongs, indicating you're better off reading De Sade than watching Lucker. Firstly, the acting (what little there is) and dubbing are atrocious. Nick Van Suyt fares best as Lucker, with almost nothing to say but 'shut up' at the end, all he needs to do is lumber and act menacing. Secondly, the murders, while shocking, are so fake as to be hilarious - lots of blood but almost no special effects, and extremely poor staging, so bad even the Foley sound effects know when to lay off a fake head bash or two. The content is extreme, but the visual execution has since been supplanted by network crime dramas like CSI. The condition of the film is pathetic, but the worst sin is the choppy editing, both in audio and video, that shamelessly recycles snippets over and over and over. It's so bad it's insulting, and destroys continuity. Oh yeah, the movie is also horrifically misogynistic. Men are killed if they get in the way, women are captured, tortured, killed and then defiled weeks later. Nice!
Ultimately, that dubious stomach-turner of a scene, an expressionistic early murder and a disorienting hodge-podge of a basement chase scene (more of that shot-recycling) at the end are too little to recommend Lucker to even the sickest movie fan. What can you expect from a movie in which the final girl has these words of angry wisdom for her tormentor: "See you in hell, you sucker." It's a fitting send-off for our misappropriated time.
Where to begin? Lucker is cobbled together from 'the only existing materials' in the director's possession, as all the original film materials were destroyed. Ooh does it show. It's like watching something patched together from multiple fifth-generation VHS dubs. Soft image, wildly varying colors (none of them close to naturalistic) film grain and damage, image jumps and skips, posterizing, shimmering, and if the image wasn't so fuzzy I'm sure there'd be aliasing too. Whatever you can think of in terms of poor quality, it's here. But hey, it's a lost film right? The director's cut is presented in a 16 x 9 (1.85:1 ratio) anamorphic transfer. Included also is the 74-minute VHS version from a master with Dutch subtitles. For my money this version - despite a few instances of tape damage and most everything described above - is slightly better visually, because the source, color and overall quality is at least uniform.
Dolby Digital Audio is mixed way up front for the director's cut - I mean way up front. I had my volume down to '3' for most of it (standard viewing volume in our house is about '12'). It's not a terribly exciting mix otherwise, with plenty of '80s horror music at a slightly lower volume than the dialog, and nothing too adventurous beyond a pedestrian stereo mix.
The big extra is the inclusion of the Original VHS Version of Lucker the Necrophagous, in fullscreen and clocking in at 74 minutes. As noted in the video section above, the single source for the VHS version makes it an overall more satisfying viewing experience even with the inherent flaws (soft image, washed out color, tape damage, etc.). Differences include a few sequences left out of the director's cut - including one that aids in the flow of the story - and a different opening sequence. The dialog isn't quite as loud either. In general, it seems like the VHS version, despite elements that weren't to the director's liking, is the stronger movie. It also seems like maybe scenes in the director's cut were stretched out to increase the running time, owing to missing or deleted elements found in the VHS version. The other extra is a 36-minute long featurette oddly titled Lucker: The Story Beyond the Film that does the usual thing of forcing you to appreciate the movie more by understanding the thought and effort behind it. The mini-doc is comprised primarily of a visually uninteresting interview with the director, with a few production stills and shot comparisons between the two versions. It's an interesting interview that gives more insight into the nature and career of the director than aspects of the filming of Lucker, but indie-horror movie fans will be engaged for sure.
Often, those forbidden objects are forbidden for good reason, while their rareness makes them seem far better than they really are. Lucker the Necrophagous is one such case. The guy doesn't even actually eat their remains, just boinks them in the beyond. As a taboo-defying assault, the movie only fails in that it's so bad (not that Jorg Buttgereit did much better a year later with Nekromantik). Cheap murders, a vile attitude, misogyny and flat-out terrible filmmaking make Lucker a cheat of a movie that you'll feel ashamed about watching. Well, you've got two choices. As far as the Director's Cut version goes, if you're hankering for that 'I need a shower' viewing experience, look elsewhere and just Skip It. The inclusion of the VHS version barely raises this DVD edition to Rent It status, but only for the most intense of extreme cinema fiends.
- Kurt Dahlke