Olaf Ittenbach  



Amidst the wave of German splatter directors (Buttgereit excluded), Ittenbach is the most prominent, has relatively more talent and his effects are more realistic. We are still talking about low-budget, amateurish gore movies that can't compete with Peter Jackson's talents, but Ittenbach stands out since he doesn't get obsessive over nasty splatter or make the camera linger on the splatter effects as if they were porn, but instead, he uses the gore as part of the overall twisted entertainment. Ittenbach's movies grew in ambition over the years and nowadays look more like bigger-budget movies with amateur actors.

Of Some Interest

Beyond the Limits  
A graveyard caretaker tells a reporter two connected tales of violence that revolve around a mysterious heart. The nonsensical first takes place in modern times and involves some organized criminals, assassins, drugs, money and a brutal home invasion where an insane killer slices, hammers, chops, shoots, amputates and carves all the house guests. The second takes place in medieval times and involves an inquisitor who is trying to make use of the heart with the aid of some manuscripts and the torture and death of faithful innocents. The body parts and splatter fly again, the swords and axes making mince-meat of a dozen characters. Bottom line: the plot is too thin, the acting is pretty bad, the cinematography and direction are good, the gore effects are superb. Ittenbach has lost his disquieting rough-edges and has made a sleek looking bad movie with gore.

Black Past  
Ittenbach's debut is the first of several home-made splatter movies and features surprisingly great gore effects. The story involves a supernatural mirror that either turns people into psychotics, making them murder little girls and commit suicide, or in the case of the protagonist, gives him extremely gory nightmares and then turns him into a slashing demon. Despite the really low production values, this one is somewhat effective and nightmarishly gruesome, featuring a variety of nasty scenes where bodies are run over, torn apart, cut up, cut into pieces or disemboweled and an Evil Dead like scene where his girlfriend keeps coming back no matter how many times he chops her up.

Familienradgeber  
The Osbournes have nothing on this family home movie. Ittenbach and his whole family star in this home-movie from hell, telling the tale of his marriage, having kids and growing up, complete with extreme violence, endless marriage counseling, and lots of body fluids. A very goofy movie, highlighted by scenes where the mom gives birth on the toilet and drags the baby by its umbilical cord, and occasional splatter. Would have been better with more gore and less body fluids though.

Garden of Love  
Blending his more recent psychological approach and good old campy, over-the-top splatter and thrills, Ittenbach produces this silly horror movie about a girl who survives a bloody massacre at her commune. Years later she is suffering from amnesia, gory ghosts who want something from her to do with revenge, and cheesy twists and turns in the plot as to who the real killer is. The splatter centerpiece is a wild massacre of policemen who get their heads smashed like oranges, ripped apart, decapitated, crushed and their faces ripped off, but the rest of the movie unfortunately consists of mostly dialog, cheesy mystery and ghosts.

Legend of Hell  
Probably Ittenbach's most ambitious movie so far and with a higher level of cinematography and production. An ancient artifact and scroll discovered by an archaeologist trigger a series of events that kills her several times over in various time periods, past lives and locations. An evil, seemingly immortal man is after these finds that are linked to a gateway to hell. When various creatures of hell pour in throughout history, it becomes obvious that the gateway has been opened. She joins forces with warriors and guides from the past that are fighting their way through hell to try and close the gate. You can imagine what happens when you combine Ittenbach with a wide variety of hellish creatures, and various time periods and weapons, including medieval brutality. This kitchen-sink approach is entertaining, but the writing seems to have suffered and escaped through a gateway of weakly structured muddled plots, even if some scenes look like Ittenbach is attempting to follow in the footsteps of Lord of the Rings. Features superb splatter, with a wide variety of battle wounds and brutal weapon damage, unimpressive fights, CGI effects that vary in quality, weak to passable acting, and very good cinematography.

No Reason  
Ittenbach goes all out on the gore and nastiness in this one, with visions of hell reminiscent of Burning Moon, as well as monster and gore effects that seem to have been inspired by Pan's Labyrinth, Hellraiser and others. What's more surprising is that he managed to hire a pretty good lead actress (relatively for this genre), and she spends most of the movie naked as she goes through the hells of her mind and soul. Which brings me to the plot, an ambitious attempt at the surreal and spiritual, but falling very flat on its face with very poor writing. A woman finds herself going through various levels in hell, her memories, reality and her own personality and soul being called into question, guided by a strange, sadistic man in a mask. Does she really have a family? Is she evil or good? Who is the guide and who is performing all the atrocities? Etc. Which all sounds good, except the writing is confusing at best, and weak or silly at worst. But it's all just an excuse to show as much gore and depravity as possible, including an orgy of kink, urine, hooks tearing apart flesh, and geysers of blood, whipping so harsh it flays off flesh, graphic eye gouging, insane dismemberments, and much more.

Premutos: The Fallen Angel  
Ittenbach's Braindead features truckloads of splatter and silly humor. Unfortunately the plot makes no sense, the humor often falls flat, the acting is dire and the English dubbed version is so atrocious, you're better off watching it in German and not understanding a word. But if it's over-the-top splatter entertainment you want, this delivers very well. A youngster gets flashbacks to various points in history when the son of Premutos, Lord of the Dead, kept popping up during violent deaths, wars and massacres. While his annoying, kinky or sleazy family and friends have a party, he turns into a monster and raises the dead, starting a bloodbath of truly epic proportions. The way-over-the-top splatter doesn't stop, featuring head explosions, limb ripping, flying body parts, body splitting, impalements, chainsaws, and even tanks.

Worthless

Burning Moon, The  
Sophomore early effort features a delinquent teenager involved in drugs, gang fights and family problems who is made to babysit his younger sister. So he tells her two bedtime stories, the first involving a mad serial killer who stalks his date and kills her family, the second featuring a Catholic priest turned Satanic who rapes and murders women, then when the wrong man is killed, he comes back to avenge himself by sending the killer to hell. Mostly amateurish and uninteresting, but the second story has its vicious and gory entertainment value, especially in the infamous scenes in hell featuring non-stop splatter, and a scene where a man is strapped to a table, his eyeball corkscrewed out, his limbs chopped off, intestines yanked out and his body split in two. For gorehounds only.

Chain Reaction (AKA House of Blood)  
I'm getting tired of these creations from Ittenbach that are neither here nor there. He attempts to be more mainstream by using Tarantino-wannabe characters, dialogue and humor mixed with horror and good production values but he keeps hiring bad actors and a weak script, and he holds back on the splatter, with just enough to keep the gore fans watching but not enough to deliver with over-the-top entertainment. The plot involves an unlucky doctor who is taken hostage by prisoners on the run. They wander into a forest and find a mysterious cabin full of undead horrors. Gun-play, some relatively restrained splatter scenes, no surprises or creativity, lots of dialogue, and acting ranging from OK to silly and annoying.

A nasty divorce leads to some unexpected twists as the ex-husband becomes mixed up with some violent criminals and the kids are kidnapped. The wife finds herself under vicious assault by one sadistic torturer after another as the plot thickens. Ittenbach hops on the torture bandwagon with nasty results, featuring brutal hammering and cutting with buckets of blood. Unfortunately the plot is extremely stupid, the acting features classic nepotism at its worst, and even the gore isn't as creative as the old days. I gave up on Ittenbach emerging as a good film-maker. He's a special effects man, pure and simple. Hint: try some splatstick.

Swiss movie with Ittenbach in charge of special effects. The dull plot is the weak point here, telling the tale of a loser for which everything is going wrong and finding no meaning in his life until an angel/demon appears and tells him to start killing people (mostly evildoers). Enter a series of very extreme splatterific murder scenes with axes and knives to the face, dismemberment, and the graphic cutting out of a heart. Good for gorehounds only.

Part two of this comical dysfunctional family home-movie is like the Bad Taste of disgusting gross-outs if that's your kind of thing. Olaf and his wife have lost that magic spark in their marriage. He wipes huge boogers on her face, is overflowing with several other body fluids, some you may not have known about, others you don't want mentioned, and they keep putting things in each other's food like toenails and dandruff. Marriage counselors in the form of Hitler and Bin Laden seem completely alien to them, a secret baby is accidentally cooked, their genitals seem mutated, etc. Will coprophilia, child abuse, or decapitation help save their marriage or give meaning back to their lives? Slapstick comedy with grunts and squeaks as dialogue, for people that enjoy extreme gross-outs only.

Ittenbach's comedic tribute to Tarantino's Dusk 'til Dawn features several plot lines with quirky characters. A couple of hitchhikers are kidnapped by a psycho, old demonic beings create havoc, the immortal undead and humans fight it out gorily in a bar, a demonic girl with a mysterious past falls for a human, and two insane immortals (one very accident prone) wander around killing people to draft them into the legion. The good news is that this has higher quality actors, higher production values and it's Ittenbach trying to do more than just gore (of which there is less this time). The bad news is that the actors can't act too well, and the writing ranges from mediocre to incoherent idiocy. Most releases are heavily cut and have no gore, so beware.

Riverplay  
An attempt at a serious horror movie a la Deliverance with surprisingly little gore. A few groups of campers meet at a common location near the river. When a body is found with its face cut off, suspicions and fear take over and escalate until the final bloodbath. Mediocre movie has its moments but desperately needs more interesting actors and plot development.

Savage Love  
Ittenbach doing an old-school campy splatter movie again sounds like good news, but the actual product leaves too much to be desired. Obviously modeled after From Dusk 'til Dawn, the plot features a bunch of drug-addict degenerates flocking to a special party where any sexual kink will be catered to. Little do they know that it is hosted by a witch who is trying to complete her 666 kills with the help of demons in order to invoke Satan. Let the carnage begin... Features a Braindead inspired demon-chopping motor-machine and literally hundreds of liters of blood. As with many Ittenbach films though, beware of the heavily cut ridiculous version that skips most of the gore, resulting in a very jumpy movie devoid of most of the action scenes. That's like censoring a porn movie... what are they thinking? The humor is juvenile and silly instead of witty, but the real problem though, is with the terrible acting that sucks the blood out of the potentially visceral and fun action-splatter.




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