What better start to the day than a healthy dose of German bloodletting action, and Judge Patrick Naugle sneaks a peek at what's on the vivisection table.
The subject is YOU.
"This is a horror film from Germany?" was my initial reaction when I received Anatomy for review. "Do Germans even make horror films?" was my next question as I peered at the case, realizing I didn't know that the German market was clamoring for slasher films. "I have to pee really bad" was my final reaction at the end of the film, as I drank enough to Mountain Dew during the course of the viewing to tranquilize a herd of gazelle. Anatomy stars that redheaded girl from the import Run Lola Run and features some creepy effects and popular rock songs. Now comes the part in the review where I "dissect" it.
Facts of the Case
Anatomy is the type of movie where lots of pretty young people get cut up like Jimmy Dean sausages while rock and roll plays in the background. In other words, your typical horror flick.
Paula (Franka Potente) is a med student at a very prestigious medical school where she is learning how to take dead things and make them look like Joan Rivers during plastic surgery. Among her friends are all kinds of pretty and handsome students (is there any other kind?) who are also learning the fine art of necro-culinary. But something is amiss, as students are starting to disappear left and right without a trace.
What does this mean? I'll tell you what it means…NOOKIE!
That's right, as usual there's always a trampy lil' blonde that has the sex drive of Warren Beatty, snogging every male student she can get her paws on. Yes my friends, she is what makes horror films great.
Oh…you say you want to know about the plot, eh? Well, let's see. There's this evil secret society whose main purpose is to take innocent people and do nasty experiments on them. Paula fumbles her way onto their scheme and must stop them from carving other people into Boston Market meals. Along the way we get to see all kinds of special effects, including the always pleasant "Oops, I just dropped a pancreas on the floor" scene. There is also a scene where a sexy blonde gets up on an autopsy table and does an erotic strip dance.
I know that after that last sentence it's tempting to run out and rent this movie RIGHT NOW, but please, have some dignity and finish the review first.
Will Paula be able to stop these terrifying experiments, or will she become the next victim of…Anatomy!? [Insert frightening German scream here.]
Anatomy is not as good as it could be. It's also not as bad as you'd think. There are some decent special effects to be found, and the acting is above average for a slasher film. I sat through Run Lola Run only a few days ago and it took me over an hour into Anatomy to realize that Paula was Lola. This is further proof that hair color can drastically turn you into a different person.
The script for Anatomy owes much to American horror films, especially Scream and its legions of clones. The idea in Anatomy is the same as Scream, just a different setting. Ever heard the one where some youngster is killing their fellow teens and we the audience must try and figure out who it is? Has anyone else noticed that most all the horror movies in the past three or four years have had nothing to do with monsters or supernatural terror, but mostly teens killing other teens? What happened to the good old days of resurrected zombies and charred child molesters? Though the script has interesting spots, we've got yet another variation of the Scream plot on our hands.
The acting is…well, I think it's good, but I'm not quite sure. The film was recorded in German, which means that there are some nifty yellow English subtitles that you can read along to. Most of the med students are interchangeable, especially the men (they all are tall, dark and German). Since the dialogue in Anatomy is in German, this is roughly what I heard:
Handsome Med Student: "Moin über von lik my dingëy."
Paula: "No shit-zu?"
Handsome Med Student: "Über mëin crabs dön itch a löt."
Yes, I have no idea what the hell they're talking about either. That's why I made sure to switch over to the English track available for us ignorant Americans. The English track often sounds hurried as if the American actors are trying to keep up with the German speech. It's pretty hard to gauge acting abilities when you're character is attached to someone else's voice. It has a very strange Kung-Fu movie dub feel to it.
The effects are what most horror buffs will be watching, and there are some pretty creepy things going on in Anatomy. The most disturbing takes its inspiration from the Vincent Price film House Of Wax. After the secret society is done carving up their victims, they "plasticize" them and display them for others to look at (unaware that they were just eating lunch with the display two days ago). The rest of the film is filled with all kinds of organs and dead bodies for us to ogle.
Anatomy is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. The picture is clear of any defects, including edge enhancement, digital artifacting and color fading. Since this is a new release it's expected that the picture look this good; bright colors, solid blacks. A very nice transfer by Columbia.
Audio for Anatomy includes Dolby Digital 5.1 for English and French, and Dolby 2-Channel Surround for English, German, and French. The mix is very good with rear speakers being used occasionally. Dialogue was well mixed (there were some nice instances of echo in the anatomy room) with music and sound effects. Once again a top notch mix by Columbia.
Anatomy has been given a usual array of extras. Some storyboard comparisons are included that are all in German so I had no idea what they said. I just nodded my head and followed along with the pictures (though the storyboards look like they were drawn by a three year old).
A commentary track by the German director is included with English subtitles. I will be the first to admit that I only watched the track for about twenty minutes (by that point I was having Schindler's List flashbacks and started getting a migraine). The director seemed passionate about his work and chatted about behind the scenes events and certain actors. If you can make it all the way through, I will mail you a kewpie doll.
Some deleted (actually extended) scenes are included with the director's commentary. The director explains why they were cut or left out. That's about it…any questions?
A music video is included by one of the actresses in the film, however I could never quite figure out which actress it was. This is a pop song with everyone dancing around erotically in leather spliced with horrific scenes from the movie. Needless to say, I made sure grandma was in the room for this feature.
A "Making Of" featurette is included which is also dubbed in English. The feature includes interviews with cast and crew, yappin' about the movie, blah, blah, blah…like you haven't seen this before. Same soup, just warmed up. If you enjoyed the movie you'll enjoy watching this as well. Paired with that featurette is another about the make-up effects for Anatomy which shows some behind the scenes work and some comments by one of the artists.
Finally there are the typical extras, including a few theatrical trailers, some production photos, talent files and animated menus. And while we're talking about extras, does anyone really count moving menus as an extra feature? If any of you have ever picked up a DVD on the basis that is has animated menus, please write me…I know doctors that can help.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Well, aside of the whole Scream rip off thing, I think my only complaint is that there wasn't enough blood letting. Sure, a spleen drops on screen a few times, but where's a good, sloppy brain in a dish when you need one?
Anatomy is fun if you have the attention span for bad dubbing and a cheesy plot. You could do better, you could do worse. Or, you could take your precious time and do something meaningful with your life, such as help the homeless or visit the elderly. For around 20 bucks I can't really recommend this title as a buyer, but as a renter this is a fun flick to watch with your favorite Oktoberfest beer and a brat.
Just barely free to go due to the fact they have a scene where a woman does an erotic dance on an autopsy table.
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Scales of Justice
• Director's Commentary
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