I’ve been an advocate of Artsploitation Pictures for over a year. I truly enjoy the original content they choose to distribute or produce. Generally I have enjoyed all their releases and have found most of them actually somewhat groundbreaking. Der Samurai rates as the first time I did not enjoy one of their movies, but I don’t want that to stop you. Here’s the thing though, in terms of plot points and kills, Der Samurai is actually a well done movie with interesting premise. I suppose I could get past the completely even keel pacing of the picture that feels like it has neither highs nor lows. Even at its most deranged or outlandish, it still feels like it walks past the scene of the crime casually displaying body parts a-go-go.
It’s on Blu-ray, but it also has come out that the early Artsploitation Blu-rays are Blu-ray-R’s, a fact which drives some of you collectors insane. While Artsploitation has said that they have heard the fan response to this and will go from duplication to replication starting with future releases, it has put a sour note on an otherwise awesome actualization that this company did something that didn’t meet the collector standard. That being said, the Blu-ray looks flawless, plays great, picture quality is excellent for a new HD film and I’m not sure that the argument against BD-R’s has an merit. The argument being of course that they experience degradation and perhaps do not have the archival structure to last. If that’s the case than we should be looking at the new Warner Archive release of Wolfen, a title that is consider a classic werewolf picture and also received the BD-R treatment from a major label. I don’t want this to be a factor in your enjoyment of the movie. I’ve actually told a colleague of mine that I’m going to use this and Horsehead as my benchmark for BD-R durability, testing them each year to see how they hold up. I have no doubt they’ll be fine.
Now that we have the drama out of the way, let’s dig into the film. Der Samurai is a German picture that feels like a modern Euro maniac movie. It has a twist in that the killer sexuality and gender identity are a central theme and the movie features plenty of good-looking graphic, practical violence. It’s a strange evolution of a story that goes from casual walk in the forest to kill, kill, kill quickly. We follow our protagonist who seems to be a casual observer as he witnesses wolf to cross dresser to kill and not in “werewolf” sort of way.
Does the movie feature a Samurai as the title suggests? It does not. Just the sword of a Samurai. It makes for a unique weapon in this context and allows for some interesting violence.
Between the pacing and somewhat strange story, I was a bit put off by Der Samurai. It follows into a world that feels surreal and metaphorical. While this worked in recent Artsploitation release of Horsehead, it feels on the fringe in Der Samurai. Still, Artsploitation’s primary success is on the diversity of films it chooses to develop and distribute while offering a unique perspective on horror. Der Samurai certainly is that, and it is receiving positive reviews in general.
You can pick up Der Samurai on Blu-ray now. Make a commitment to Artsploitation and enjoy a truly world view of horror and dark cinema. They have a great package deal going at the moment where you can purchase their entire catalog at a reasonable price. If you’re new to this brand, you’ll have a smorgasbord to keep you satiated.
Unlike any other horror film you’ll see this year, DER SAMURAI is a German mind-bender about shape-shifting cross-dressers, bloody decapitations, repressed sexual desires and small town life. But while director Till Kleinert’s film is a surreal mix of dark comedy and eerie creep-out that recalls David Lynch. Jakob is a policeman in a village deep in the woods, where little happens until the arrival of a mysterious wolf that is causing havoc. Working the night shift, Jakob is tracking the wolf…only to discover that the lupine lurker is actually a man clad only in lipstick and a ladies’ slip, and toting a samurai sword that he uses to lop off the heads of the townspeople, including Jakob’s tormentors. Jakob and the transvestite samurai seem to share a bond, and as the night gets darker, events get even weirder. Completely bizarre yet wildly entertaining, DER SAMURAI is a horror must-see for the adventurous!
Bonus material:Behind the Scenes featurette, Director's commentary, Trailer