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Film Review: Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead (1997)

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SYNOPSIS:

Premutos is the first of the fallen Angels, even before Lucifer. His Goal is to rule the world, the living and the dead. His son should pave the way for him and appears arbitrary throughout human history and is then recognized as some kind of monster.

REVIEW:

Premutos – der Gefallene Engel (”The Fallen Angel;” this movie is also called Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead, a title that fits just as well) is one of Olaf Ittenbach’s earliest films, coming out in 1997 (released the same year as The Burning Moon, but still eight years after his debut on the scene, Black Past). Just by reading that it is an Ittenbach film, you probably know what to expect: lots and lots of gore! This is often considered his best work, and I lean toward agreeing with that premise. Premutos is over the top, somewhat the combination of Schnaas’ Goblet of Gore and Zombie ’90: Extreme Pestilence. It’s often been compared to Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, and for good reason: it’s a lot like Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. And in case it’s not clear, that is more compliment than criticism.

On the surface, this movie is about Premutos, the original fallen angel, who is looking to come back to Earth and rule over it and all its creatures (dead or alive). In order to do so, his son must clear the way for him. To go along with that storyline, we travel through history, watching the son appear in various forms. It starts in the year 1023 with a battle, and we see a skeleton reform into a man (with special effects that rival Frank’s transformation in the original Hellraiser, but on a much lower budget).

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Cut to 1942, and we meet Rudolph, a guy with a basement full of corpses who is trying to master the resurrection powers of Premutos. An angry mob is after him, so he buries his secret plans and potions just before he is captured and killed. This brings us to modern day, the predominant setting of the film, and our main character, Matthias (played by Ittenbach himself). He is kind of a loser, lives at home with his mom and stepdad, isn’t very good at soccer, and, oh yeah, might be the son of Premutos.

The plot of the movie deals with Matthias having visions, or flashbacks, or maybe memories, of death and destruction from the past, anything from him meeting a witch on a wintery path who tells him he’s the chosen one to a battle between soldiers and commoners in fourteenth century Scotland, then all the way back to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Through all of these, in combination with the intro, we learn the details of Premutos. And then it starts getting good…

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While Matthias goes off to play soccer, his stepfather stays home to plant a tree (it IS his birthday, after all). While digging, he discovers the case that Rudolph had buried, a case containing a book and some potions. He brings them inside to look at later. Meanwhile, Matthias suffers an injury in a very sensitive place and has to come home. He tries to relax, but ends up spilling one of the potions on his injured junk, setting into motion a birthday party scenario on par with the party scene in the aforementioned Dead Alive. All hell breaks loose. Pretty much literally.

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While the first half of the movie is a little slow at times (there’s still a lot going on, but in comparison it’s the slower half), the second half is unrelenting in both action and gore. This is made for fans of early Peter Jackson, or Sam Raimi, and definitely Andreas Schnaas. There are overdubbed English voices instead of subtitles in the American release (courtesy of Shock-O-Rama Cinema), and they are hilarious. Thanks to the crotch spillage, Matthias becomes a crazy demon and goes on a rampage, killing people, bringing the dead to “life,” (aka zombies, or at least zombie-like creatures), and wreaking havoc. Blood, gore, vomit, snot…you name it, if it’s gross it’s in there. Heads blow up, limbs are severed, cheesy lines are spoken. It’s an all out war, the living versus the dead, with hilarious outcomes and a genius finale.

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Ittenbach manages to do grosser, nastier things with virtual unknowns (most of the main actors, aside from himself, still only list Premutos on their acting resumes) and a very low budget. Any time you can bring a bit of humor to violent carnage, you’re doing something right, and Ittenbach, along with most of the German splatter directors, have their fingers firmly on the blood-spurting jugular vein of their target audiences. This movie does NOT take itself overly serious, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere, although I’d still tell you to watch this anyway. It is bloody, it is funny, and I’d rank it as a “must see” for any fan of splatter and gore.

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