(Das Deutsche Kettensagenmassaker)

Directed by Christoph Schlingensief. 1990.

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Sounding like some cheap pastiche, The German Chainsaw Massacre comes as a surprisingly independent feature, able to stand on it's own without the crutch of it's predecessor. However, Tobe Hooper's movie is not so much tipped and winked as screamed in the face of in this relentless madness and more specifically in a similarly edited chainsaw chase through a forest. Choosing to loosen Hooper's tight bolts of 'humour', Schlingensief loses dramatic intensity but gains an awesome sense of the egregious: unemployed customs officials form appalling folk groups at the West/East border and a woman with a knife up her butt sits down... 

Schlingensief manages to attain the almost impossible with virtually no plot leading a blindly satisfactory and jolly dance. Rather than making love to her 'horny' partner, Clara kills him/her, androgynous in a wig, before crossing the border. Here, she becomes masochistically involved with an incestuous, cannibalistic family that bring out the worst in her. Clara veers between her positions as killer and user-friendly object of lust as unpredictably as the family's regard of her as food and companion. 

The reason for the agreeable blending of the movie is that the subject matter is watertight in analogy in the reunification of Germany and the wanton dismemberment of the individual. The family here represent the Old Ways, the desire for division taken to an extreme upon those who flit the borders. They are, of course, equally divided in petty feuds of their own. Dietrich turns Normanesque and harbours poor dead Nazi Vati all to himself in his room causing unrest that leads to physical dismemberment of the family and an icon of political instability. 

Anarchy is inherent in the form and structure of the movie itself. Whilst Johnny daubs a CND logo on the wall with a freshly amputated stump and thereby expressing his support for 'disarmament', Arthur glumly removes the gorily convincing flayed skin make-up from his face, shattering all illusion. Likewise, Clara develops another skin of her own at one stage that she peels off as the chrysalis of her new identity. Other textures provide easy cohesion with the introduction of projected 16mm slowmo deaths and low-resolution video depicting the Germanic fight for ‘pluralism’. Thus the deconstruction is universal and plummets into mayhem as each character destroys or is gleefully destroyed. No redemption. No happy endings. 

Ed Cooper

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