Premutos: The Fallen Angel [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Unearthed Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (19th April 2022).
The Film

Contrary to what the Bible says, Lucifer was not the first fallen angel. Long before him, there was Premutos who could only create life from death. Assuming human form, he raised armies of the dead to help him spread illness, envy, death, and sin throughout the ages. Each time he rose, he was eventually beaten back and sent to Hell, first in Ancient Egypt as a pharaoh, then Mongolia (in the personage of Genghis Kahn), Japan, and India. During World War II, outcast hermit farmer Rudolf (Ronald Fuhrmann) discovered the book of Premutos and a formula for resurrection requiring dead bodies that he hoped to use to bring back his recently-departed love Ida; however, the townspeople rose against him when they discovered the graves of their loved ones defiled. When his last attempt at reviving Ida fails miserably and he knows he will be executed without trial, Rudolf buries the book and the formula. Fifty-five years later, farmer Walter Reichenberger (Christopher Stacey) unearths the chest containing the book and the formula while planting a tree to commemorate his birthday. His teenage son Matthias (writer/director/make-up effects designer Olaf Ittenbach) has recently been experiencing grisly visions of past lives as a beggar in medieval Bavaria who encounters a witch (Auguste Fischer) who tells him that he is the son of Premutos destined to bring his father back to Earth (experienced most vividly after he passes out from the pain of a ruptured testicle during a football match). While his father, mother Inge (Ingrid Fischer), materialistic aunt Edith (producer/assistant director/casting director Anke Fabré), her henpecked husband Hugo (Ittenbach regular André Stryi who also produced and handled the film's pyrotechnics), family friend Chrsitian (Fidelis Atuma), and Hugo's lost love Tanja (Ella Wellmann) celebrate in the dining room, and his sister Rosina (Heike Münstermann) has a BDSM session with lover Tacco (Frank Jerome) in the next bedroom over, convalescing Matthias reads the book of Premutos and learns that the fallen angel will rise through the sacrifice of his child's flesh; whereupon Matthias sheds his mortal skin and brings back the recent dead to kill yet more to raise a zombie army that will turn his father's birthday into a true last supper.

Shot on 16mm film with multiple period flashbacks – including the Stalingrad front and a battle between Christians and Pagans in medieval Scotland as illustrations of incarnations of Premutos' son being killed before he can fulfill his destiny – as well as a depiction of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ which suggests that his healing was a less blasphemous form of Premutos' powers of resurrection (as well as the apparent revelation that Tanja is the reincarnation of Mary in what seems like a nod to Fear No Evil but actually contributes in no way to the story proper), Premutos: The Fallen Angel was not only director Ittenbach's most ambitious film up but his most accomplished. The two unrelated stories that comprised the earlier shot-on-video The Burning Moon now seem like a thematic and stylistic dry run for the film at hand in both the modern slasher aspect of a family and their friends being stalked and slaughtered in their home (itself a retread of Ittenbach's debut Black Past) as well as the period piece with its outcast character, mob of locals, and mutilations/desecration. The film sidelines both Matthias and his son of a fallen angel creature for much of the latter half of the film, presumably so Ittenbach can focus on directing, to the point where one might actually forget about Premutos himself amidst the zombie carnage. While a lot of eighties and nineties gore filmmakers the world around tended to pay slavish homage to the likes of The Evil Dead in their early works, Ittenbach seems to have re-discovered the Sam Raimi – along with a helping of the sequel and Army of Darkness with chainsaw-wielding Walter shouting "I'm the king" as he beheads, dismembers, and bisects zombies – via Peter Jackson's Braindead with its garish color lighting and equally comical and gruesome gore gags, as well as a Hellraiser-ish transformation. The climactic battle in which the survivors wield chainsaws, various firearms, and anything they can get their hands on against the zombie horde goes on way too long, which may be the point as the survivors who succumb to being consumed are literally exhausted (the end credits estimate the body count as one-hundred-and-thirty-eight). Ittenbach's next feature was the California-lensed Legion of the Dead which netted US distribution along with the more mainstream The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine and the less-gory House of Blood – all of which were trimmed for R-ratings – before getting back to his lower budget roots with the anthology Beyond the Limits and subsequent efforts made between his make-up effects contributions to the work of other German genre filmmakers.


Premutos: The Fallen Angel was first available officially stateside on VHS and DVD from Shock-o-Rama under the title "Premutos: Lord of the Living Dead" – the former in an English dub while the latter had English and German tracks but no subtitles – in its original 110 minute cut (106 minutes since it was a PAL-to-NTSC conversion). In 2017, Austria's Cinestrange Extreme label debuted a director's cut (111 minutes at 25 frames per second) on Blu-ray (the DVD side featured the original cut) in which Ittenbach rescanned the original 16mm negative, reframed it at 1.78:1, remixed the film in 5.1, added an animated prologue that describe Premutos' appearances in Egypt, China, and Japan – the original cut opens with the live action India flashback – animated titles, some digital blood splatter, and presumably all of the little trims left out of the original (a character hit in the head by a ricochet bullet not gets a rivulet of possibly digital blood dripping down his forehead rather than the quick cut of blood spatter against the wall behind him). The grading is also brighter but moodier with more contrast compared to the somewhat patchwork look of the original cut. Grain is beautifully retained in Unearthed Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 Blu-ray iteration (which runs 116 minutes at 24fps), noisier in darker scenes than brighter ones but you would never mistake this film for a digital production in spite of the suped-up visuals. While the presentation manages to remain faithful to the original underneath the alterations, the original cut is also present on the disc as a PAL-to-NTSC 480i60 MPEG-2 1.33:1 pillarboxed fullscreen encode that reveals sometimes more comfortable, sometimes more "casual" framing, a more naturalistic image in terms of lighting and contrast but the smoke-filled and darker scenes look as murky as they always have on video.


The director's cut features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix and LPCM 2.0 stereo downmix which is nowhere near as gimmicky as a Raimi or Jackson film but expands the original sound stage in terms of the scoring, source music, and directionality to some of the more outrageous effects. There are optional English subtitles but the source material includes some instances of optically-printed German subtitles for a few lines in other languages during the flashbacks rather than new digital ones. Either they were left in because the textless material no longer exists or because the director's cut is a German creation with no plans at the time of production for export in other languages (there is no new or composite version of the English dub, and it is possible the dialogue stem no longer exists independent of the music and effects to make the same sound and music alterations as the German remix). The original cut features German and English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks – with optional English subtitles – and it is nice that the dub was included simply because of how bad it is (it is not really a desecration of the original as the German performances are nothing remotely subtle or nuanced).


Apart from a new photo gallery (4:37), extras are identical to the Austrian Mediabook with the "Making Of" documentary (50:23) offered in original German or English overdub. Unfortunately, the latter is the only way for non-German-speaking viewers to watch it since there are no subtitles; indeed, the single male overdub for Ittenbach and the cast detracts from one's enjoyment of the piece which spends a lot of time with the actors talking about characterization and cast comradery for what Ittenbach describes as a "party film." The piece is most interesting when focusing on the shooting of the effects, Ittenbach's tabletop workshop – he notes that he designed appliances that could be reused on several different zombies rather than making each one up individually – as well as proof that one crane shot over the top of a house is indeed a scale model well-disguised by the lighting. Also ported over is "Olaf Ittenbach - The Early Years" (72:41), a documentary looking at footage shot between 1985 and 1987 as amateur attempts at recreating effects from films he and Stryi liked. While he never intended to release this footage, he was convinced to do it for his fans since these experiments eventually paved the way for his debut Black Past. Citing influences like The Evil Dead, Suspiria, Inferno as well as the films of Lucio Fulci – including a DIY attempt to ape the Louma crane scene in Argento's Tenebrae and Styri taking Daniela Doria's place in a recreation of the razor mutilation sequence from New York Ripper – the footage shows himself and Stryi alternately playing victim and killer, reveals the crude make-up effects appliances (including apple strudel dough in place of bladders and latex), how his training as a dental technician allowed him to create monster teeth, his brother's contribution in creating prop knives, and that Michael Müller became his cinematographer because his parents were semi-professional dancers who gave him a camcorder to film them. Ittenbach is frank not only about how poor some of this efforts were but also how stupid some of the things they attempted were including a bullet headshot in which Stryi wore firecracker in between a wig and a swim cap covering his real hair. The disc also includes the film's trailer (2:17), bonus trailers for other "Unearthed Classics" and the bonus soundtrack CD.


The cover is reversible and a slipcover has also been included.


Premutos: The Fallen Angel is no masterpiece, but it is an entertaining time capsule of a period of horror in which slavish imitation and splattery innovation was still appreciated by the audience.


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