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Premutos: The Fallen Angel
Director Olaf Ittenbach's splatter classic begins in modern day Germany, where a man named Mathias starts having flashbacks that he is the son of the first fallen angel, Premutos. When, on his father's birthday, he discovers an ancient book and an unusual yellow potion, he mutates into a monster bent on resurrecting Premutos and his army of zombies, and literally, all hell breaks loose… conveniently enough at a dinner party that his parents are having!
The story in this film is basic, and that's all that it needs to be. Everything in this movie takes second stage to the gore, which is handed out by the bucketful. Premutos easily rivals Peter Jackson's Braindead in the gore department and the last half hour of the movie really kicks into overdrive with its relentless display of every kind of carnage imaginable. Heads are chopped off, limbs are severed with ridiculous frequency (and sometimes their owners are then beaten with those limbs, just for good measure), swords cleave zombies in half and rib cages are ripped open. All this and more awaits you during the film's hour and forty minute running time (the film is completely uncut on this disc).
Some of the flashback scenes in the film are particularly interesting; especially when we see Mathias in his past lives where he is crucified with Christ or when we see him fighting in the Second World War. These scenes sometimes show their low budget origins (well, not sometimes so much as all the time) but there's enough enthusiasm and attention to detail that you can look past these issues and accept them for what they are. The crucifixion scene in particular is surprisingly well done and actually shows some solid talent behind the camera for composition.
Director and effects man Olaf Ittenbach (who may or may not be responsible for the FX on the infamous Roswell Autopsy video (has he ever come clean on this?) doesn't let the micro budget that this film was shot on get in the way of bringing some of the most outrageous special effects to the screen and, like in all of his work, it's the splatter that matters most. There is a story here and some legitimate character development, particularly in the later half when one of the male characters stands up to his domineering wife after reuniting with a hot brunette he once fooled around with, but the film is quite obviously more concerned with zombies biting people and then later having their heads explode.
There's also a fairly wicked sense of humor at work here. It's hard not to laugh when a portly bald buy with a beard in a blue suit grabs a broadsword and proclaims himself ‘the sword master' before carving his enemies into tiny bits and frequent groin injury gags are common throughout the movie for those who enjoy that type of thing. Like most of Ittenbach's movies the acting here is nothing to write home about, most of it is campy and sometimes a bit amateurish, but all involved show no fear for the content and gleefully indulge in all of the on screen insanity with more enthusiasm than most would probably expect. Ittenbach is very obviously borrowing from Raimi and Jackson here, but he does it fairly well considering what he had to work with, even if most of the humor is more likely to make you groan than to make you actually laugh.
Note that the feature version of Premutos included on this disc is the longer ‘Extended Director's Cut' which runs 1:55:44 and incudes new animated intro pre-credits sequence, new opening credits, a body count tally at the end and new closing credits. It runs approximately ten minutes longer than the standard cut of the film. Some of the sound effects work also seems to have been redone.
Unearthed Films brings Premutos: The Fallen Angel to Region A Blu-ray famed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with the feature using up 26.5GBs of space on the 50GB disc. This was shot on 16mm film stock and originally released in 1.33.1 fullframe and the new 1.78.1 widecsreen framing looks fine in some scenes but a bit too tight in others. Quirky framing aside, this transfer retains the gritty, grainy look of the film. Parts of it are still occasionally a bit too dark (though not nearly as dark as past releases), but with that said, the movie has always looked this way, anyone who has seen it before can confirm that. Clarity is generally fine, however, and while dark scenes tend to get buried in murk, the lighter scenes look decent enough and color reproduction is fine. We definitely get a pretty decent increase in detail, depth and texture when compared to previous DVD editions of the movie. This isn't a movie that should look too clean or too glossy, and while some will understandably take issue with the changes Ittenbach has made to the extended cut and the new framing, overall the picture quality here isn't bad at all when you consider the film's super low budget origins.
Audio for the extended cut is offered up a German language 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound and a Geman 16-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track with optional subtitles offered in English only. Audio quality of the extended cut is pretty good, with solid channel separation and clean, clear dialogue. The effects have good range and depth to them and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion related issues.
As far as the extras go, Unearthed has, thankfully, included the original version of Premutos, available with either the notoriously bad English dub or the original German language, both in Dolby Digital 2.0 format, with removable English subtitles. This original cut runs 1:46:07 and is presented in 480i MPEG-2 1.33.1 fullframe. Unfortunately this hasn't been restored the way that the extended version has so it doesn't look so hot, but at least it's preserved alongside the newer version.
The Making Of Premutos is available in both German and English language options and it runs 50:23. This archival featurette is a pretty comprehensive look at the making of the film by way of some extensive interviews with Ittenbach as well as a load of behind the scenes footage shot while the movie was still in production. Ittenbach talks about why he makes such gory films, some of the effects work, shooting mostly on weekends, audience reactions to the absurdity of the violence in the movie and more. A few of his cast and crew members are also interviewed here about their work on the film.
Olaf Ittenbach: The Early Years is a seventy-three minute collection of material that Ittenbach shot between 1985 and 1987, much of which was done as effects test footage and editing tests to get to the point where he was ready to make Black Past. Ittenbach shows up here and there to speak in subtitled German about the material, who he worked with on it, what it was originally intended for and more. It's pretty interesting in its own way, and, as you'd expect, there's some pretty solid gore effects featured here.
The disc also includes a still gallery, a trailer for the feature as well as bonus trailers for Evil Dead Trap, A Serbian Film, Untold Story Torched and Nightwish. Menus and chapter stops are also provided and the disc comes with a slipcover. And if that weren't enough, this release also comes bundled with the film's original soundtrack included on a bonus CD.
In its uncut form, Premutos: The Fallen Angel is an insanely gory affair. If it runs a bit too long, the movie nevertheless delivers some splatastic effects work and a few good laughs along the way. While some would quite understandably have preferred to have the original cut restored, the quality of the presentation of the Extended Director's Cut is quite good and even if the original version is presented here in standard definition, at least it's included, alongside quite a few other extras as well. All in all, this is a pretty solid package for fans of the film.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.