Monday, 7 September 2015

Premutos - The Fallen Angel (Lord of the Living Dead) - review

1997 (Germany)

Contains spoilers.

In the beginning, before Lucifer fell from God's grace there was another. Premutos - The first fallen angel, the ruler of life and death, the bringer of disease, hate and sin, and an all-round general douche-bag with a lot of daddy issues. Now Premutos has a plan to make Earth quite the most unpleasant place to bring children up in and he's decided the best way of achieving his goals is, like God, by gifting the world a son to bridge the gap and pave the way.

Premutos - The Fallen Angel is German splatter director and writer Olaf Ittenbach's low budget ode to Jackson's Dead Alive (Braindead). It has humour, a convoluted hokey story, exaggerated and eccentric characters, outlandish special effects and an unhealthy obsession with getting what's inside a person to the outside as graphically as possible. In the first ten minutes we witness blood vomiting, arms being ripped off, a spade being pummelled into a person's face, people being burnt alive, head explosions and enough innards to last a (relatively healthy) person a lifetime. From start to finish this is not a film for the squeamish; death, especially when there's axes, shotguns, ricocheting bullets, tanks, etc. is never going to be pretty but Ittenbach's gory insistence to leave nothing to the imagination makes this one of those films that you'll know is going to be for you or not before the title music has finished. This being said, this isn't slow and seductive Fulci torture porn; it's high octane Jackson head pop and move on. The camera rarely lingers as there's always another limb to see being severed, and it also helps to hide the obvious budgetary constraints when putting something together quite this lavish and ambitious.

It's Germany, it's modern dayish and the eve of Walter's (Christopher Stacey) birthday bash. His son, and who we discover to be also Premutos's little bit of Earthly flesh and bone, through the use of many, many flashbacks, Matthias (played by Olaf Ittenbach) gets into a bit of scrape at football practice resulting in his purple-helmeted Spartan of love needing hospital attention. His dad meanwhile engaged with planting his annual birthday tree, finds and digs up an old hidden treasure trove of phials, and the Premutos guidebook to resurrecting fallen angles and bringing on the zombie apocalypse. Anyway, the lad's throbbing beef probe meets Premutos's ancient zombie balm, a weird group of party guests begin to celebrate and the stage is set for the arrival of the other risen lord, his delinquent army of the dead and the z-mix buffet of running, screaming, death and carnage.

One thing  Olaf Ittenbach can't be accused of is playing it safe. What Premutos lacks in spit and polish it more than makes up for in ambition and scope. Whether India 1023, Germany 1942, Bavaria 1293, Scotland, Stalingrad or even Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, Ittenbach isn't afraid to throw his narrative off the linear path and each new setting is tackled with genuine respect and attention to detail. Ok, with such budgetary deficiencies there's always an extra to point at or a prop to laugh at, but one can tell that there has been a real attempt to make each scene unique, and yet authentic and plausible in the grander scope of the story . Yes the narrative is convoluted, and does linger and stutter on occasion; overall though what Ittenbach is trying to sell us as the reason for all the mayhem and bloodshed is coherent and interesting.

The recurrent theme through the ages is the eventual transformation of Matthias (or whatever his name is in each epoch), son of man into the son of Premutos. Each awakening is guttural and disturbing, never more so when Matthias himself writhes and contorts into his new form suddenly entwined with barbed wire and pierced with rods and blades. It's truly grotesque, as is his new found appearance; but putting aside for one minute whether his new state is zombie or some transcendent between state, it's his ability to now tap into his father's powers over life and death that's of most interest to us zombie fans.

The zombies of Premutos are Romero slow, actually they're slower; they're cumbersome, they're meandering and whilst they do make a right mess once they get hold of their next meal, they're actually a bit rubbish about actually getting it. It's headshots, mostly, as they go over should they take enough damage to other areas, though it's a bit inconsistent and vague. There's no virus, we never see any of the ones being eaten actually rise again, as they're mostly just eaten. Also the forces of Premutos must be quite something as the dead to arrive in quite the number, given for what I assumed was a quite the small town And while we're talking unrealistic numbers I'll briefly mention the infinity-guns that seemingly never need to be reloaded… Appearance wise they're adequately done. The actors mostly hold it together though there's never a need to try too hard as they're likely to not be on screen very long as Ittenbach like's to get through them at quite the pace.

Premutos - The Fallen Angel is the sort of film I never like to knock. Undoubtedly amateurish and a bit rubbish in all areas it's also ambitious, coherent, imaginative, expansive and generally entertaining. There has been a real effort at a dark, gritty old fashioned zombie splatter-fest and it delivers; from start to finish the gore is disturbing and disgusting, the story unfolds reasonably naturally, the characters and acting are euro-eccentric but never dull and the ending is outlandish and satisfying. My only real complaint is it does overstay it's welcome a tad. The final barn siege scene is twice as long as needed and whilst I was enjoying the copious carnage I quite often found my mind wandering after the third or fourth (or seventh or eighth) similar zombie gut wrench in a row. A proper daft old zombie splatter like Dead Alive but without quite the same level of humour, polish or pizzazz - 6/10.



  1. Good to see you back in the blogging saddle :) I looked at another of Olaf Ittenbach's flicks at TMtV a while back

    Did you check out Meteletsa? I'd be interested to read your thoughts on that one

    1. It's good to be back and also amazing to note just how quickly a week off turns into a 9 month hiatus. Life eh!

      I'll have a look at Meteletsa; it's not been on my radar but looks interesting; I can only see the vimeo option, no DVD? But cheers for this!

      Talking of which I've some catching up to do.. including all my favourite blogs....

      PS There's a single vamp scene in Premutos. Only one, a brief dream sequence that ends with a fanged + neck embrace... it's really not worth a mention ;)