Horror anthologies are becoming more and more popular these days and I have absolutely no problem with that when they're created properly and effectively. German Angst is a fine example of an effective anthology. In short, it's a three part, horror anthology that focuses on the disturbing nature of love and sex. Written and directed by three of the most controversial, underground filmmakers, the legendary Jörg Buttgereit (Necromantik, Der Todesking), Andreas Marschall (Tears of Kali), and Michal Kosakowski (Zero Killed).
The first segment, "Final Girl," from Buttgereit follows a young woman (Lola Gave) living in a dirty apartment with her pet guinea pig, Mucki. The short develops an uneasy tone from the get go with the woman describing her guinea pig's loss of a limb via voiceover and she eats breakfast, a very disturbing report of domestic violence is broadcast over the radio. Her voiceover continues, describing a veterinarian’s procedure for castrating a guinea pig, as she enters a bedroom, shears in hand, we see her abusive father bound and gagged to the bed. You can guess what happens from there. At first, you feel bad for the father, though as undertones of violent abuse toward his daughter are revealed through flashbacks, you realize that this is a shocking tale of revenge and sympathize with the woman. Master of German shock, Jörg Buttgereit, delivers a gut-punch of an opener to kick things off, especially for male audiences. Snip! Snip!
"Make A Wish" is the second segment from director Michal Kosakowski. This tale follows a deaf-mute couple, Jacek (Matthan Harris) and Kasia (Annika Strauss), that are terrorized by a group of Nazi thugs while exploring an abandoned factory. Jacek had previously given Kasia a magical amulet that allows the user to transfer souls with another being. The history of the amulet is shown through a nasty WWII flashback of SS soldiers invading a Polish settlement. Returning to the present, the couple is assaulted and humiliated by the thugs, led by Jens (Andreas Pape). Kasia turns the table on their torture by pulling out the amulet, which allows Jacek to take Jens place. This forces the audience to root for Jens as the group continues to mutilate Jacek's body. When all is said and done and the torture has ended, Kasia is left alone, bloody and broken. Did the amulet really work? Did Jecek choose to leave her behind due to his newfound body, corrupted by power? Kosakowski's segment leaves much to interpretation, in what could be seen as a very brutal episode of "The Twilight Zone".
The final segment, “Alraune,” written and directed by Andreas Marschall, is the heftiest and and deepest chapter of the three in terms of run-time and subject matter. This one begins with a flashback of Eden (Milton Welsh), Berlin's best bottle photographer (yes, really), having an argument with his girlfriend Maya (Desiree Giorgetti). This leads him to "pursuing his fantasies" in an adult chat room, where he meets a woman who would like to hook up at a local underground club. Arriving at the club, Eden spots Kira (Kristina Kostiv) dancing on a pole and the two end up in a bathroom stall. Little does Eden know, this isn't "his" girl from the chat room. Just when things start heating up, Kira is freaked out by a drawing of a creature on the wall, she storms off and of course Eden follows. He follows her to a secret club where he is led to discover a dark path of sexual fulfillment and death. To say more would spoil the fun this segment has to offer. Marschall has created a bizarre mix of David Cronenberg meets H.P. Lovecraft in this closing to German Angst. A segment that delves into the price paid for developing unrealistic expectations of women and sex.
I'm immensely grateful that Artsploitation Films has released this trilogy of uncompromising exploitation from three of Germany's most intense filmmakers. German Angst, while definitely not for everyone, is one of the best and most impacting anthologies I've ever seen. It's a visceral shock to your senses that takes some time to digest after the credits roll. The scenes from the film will stick in your mind for days as you reflect on the brutality and terror you've witnessed. For me, this trio of macabre tales has left a lasting impression and sets the bar higher for what I'll expect from films of this type in the future.
German Angst is available now on Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films.