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Synapse Films presents
"Go ahead, scream. It won't help."
DVD ReviewSomewhere between William Lustig’s Maniac and Jorg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik lies Lucker, a low-budget gorefest from German filmmaker Johan Vandewoestijne. It’s not so much a film as it is an endurance test: a misogynistic, non-stop barrage of vicious and prolonged murder set pieces, with explicit bits of necrophilia sprinkled about for good measure. Just over twenty years after its initial release, Lucker remains as uncomfortable and vicious today as it was in 1986.
John Lucker (Nick Van Suyt) is a captured serial killer recovering from a suicide attempt in a private clinic. After taking advantage of the clinic’s lax security, the crazed murderer escapes only to discover that his would-be victim, Cathy Jordan, has survived his killing spree. Enraged that someone has escaped his wrath, Lucker heads back into the city seeking bloody closure and leaving a bundle of new victims in his wake.
If there’s one audience that will undoubtedly find value in Lucker’s thin premise, it’s the fans of European chunkblower cinema. Those waned on the gory excesses of Fulci, Deodato, and Mattei should revel in Lucker’s uncomfortable and lingering moments of murder. Victims are strangled, eyes are gouged, throats are slashed, bellies are stabbed, heads are bashed, with the camera capturing, and lingering on, every gory detail. There isn’t much else happening in Lucker, but if it’s gore you want, then here’s your fix.
Unfortunately, once you look past the frequent death scenes it becomes all too clear that the film has nothing left to offer. With a story so thin it’s nonexistent, and psychology so shallow it makes Maniac look like a probing character study, there’s really nothing left to recommend to viewers seeking something more than exploitative shocks.
The biggest problem, however, isn’t the lack of substance, but rather the one-note formula of the proceedings. It’s literally 68 minutes of murder and rape, wall to wall. And while I pride myself on being one of the biggest fans of violent and sleazy outré cinema, when there’s nothing else on the table, the subject matter tends to overstay its welcome. That’s what happens to Lucker. By the time our title character has claimed his fifth victim, moved into her apartment and allowed her body to decompose for four weeks before stripping off his clothes and molesting the body (with some truly disgusting, ‘wet’ sound design here), tedium begins to set in. The subject matter is repugnant, yes, but also far too repetitious to sustain its desired effect.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Lucker arrives on DVD courtesy of Synapse Films and its quality is a bit of a special circumstance. Unfortunately, the original film materials were destroyed, leaving only video sources available for this transfer. While the end result is certainly not indicative of typical DVD quality, the transfer offers interested parties a respectable way to view the movie.
The 1.85:1 presentation is washed out and soft, complete with the occasional tracking lines from the VHS source, save one obvious recent insert created for this director’s cut: a crystal clear cityscape pan at the 18-minute mark. The rest of the image, while flawed, is consistent and watchable. Colors still manage to pop even if the detail varies from scene to scene. Synapse doesn’t often play it safe; many of their releases are not the easiest titles to introduce to the digital age, and this one is no different. But like all past efforts from Synapse, this one manages to impress.
This is the best that Lucker is ever going to look, and I’d rather have this title on DVD, than never see it released stateside at all.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The sole audio track, Dolby Digital Stereo, isn't too aggressive, but voices are crystal clear and the effective, sickening splats and slurps of the sound effects are successfully intact. This isn't a film that needs a 5.1 mix simply for the sake of having one. The track provided is a solid one.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues
Packaging: Keep Case
The 36-minute documentary Lucker: The Story Behind the Film is really just a long sit-down with the director. He details his amusing motivations for making the film and chronicles the severe backlash received after its release. Also explored is the reason for the "director's cut" and an interesting idea for a sequel, which would continue the exploits of one of the film's characters. This discussion is extensive and is a must-see for any fans of the film.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsWith low-budget, yet convincing gore FX, gritty locales and an endless string of killings, Lucker isn’t a bad way to kill some time for the hardcore horror fans seeking a crimson fix. For all others, however, this is a cheap and nasty little production that will likely disgust, then bore, its viewer.
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