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Case Number 14180

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Dungeon Girl

Lionsgate // 2007 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // August 1st, 2008

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All Rise...

It will take Judge Daryl Loomis a little while to get the slime of this film off his hands.

The Charge

Are you a witch? You're a witch!

Opening Statement

To say that Dungeon Girl is bad is an insult to bad movies. Everything about Ulli Lommel's latest true crime travesty is at the bottom of the barrel and, having watched it, I feel like I've lost something more important than 81 minutes of time I'll never get back. It's hard to understand how, somewhere in the making of the "film," nobody realized that they were completely lost or, after it was complete, how they could have actually agreed that this was worth releasing. The did release it, however, so here we are.

Facts of the Case

Schatzi Melnik (played by Wendi Jean Linn and narrated by Gwen Trevathan)is an average teenager, except for one little thing: she's been locked in a closet for the last six years. Kidnapped and imprisoned at only 12, her entire life revolves around this madman (Gunter Ziegler, Zombie Nation) who has stolen her life so he can watch her through a little hole in the wall. After all these years, she feels like she's able to break out; can she find the strength in herself to escape?

The Evidence

Essentially void of any dialogue between the characters, Dungeon Girl tells its entire story in narration through the eyes of the girl after she has escaped. As we watch her memories unfold, we are supposed to feel the pain of this person, but the narration sounds less from the perspective of a victim and more from someone who thinks the whole scenario is pretty sexy. That someone is director Ulli Lommel (B.T.K. Killer), in one of his slimiest, most pathetic films yet. The film begins with a slow pan, trailing up the young girl's barely clothed body as the narrator says, "My name is Schatzi Melnik and I'm 18 years old." Apparently, disclaiming her adult status makes these shots of somebody who is supposed to be around 14 somehow less disgusting. She goes on to talk, in too much detail, about how all the men in her life always "loved her" in ways she didn't understand, but she never describes herself as a victim. Instead, she implicates herself in all of the abuse, sounding happy about having brought it upon herself. This reprehensible attitude toward the abuse that this girl suffers pervades the film, and I would be mad if it wasn't such a laughable attempt at drama. In these 81 minutes of monologue, she muses on love, freedom, her first kiss, anything to pad an already stretched story while we watch two people sit in a room doing literally nothing for minutes on end.

Since, outside of a minute or so with the girl's family, the only people we see are the girl and her captor, I would have expected some kind of character development but, unless you call two people looking blankly in the general direction of each other character development, there's none of that here. We know in the first minute that she escapes he prison so, when everything that the narrator lays on the table at the very beginning proves true, it all seems kind of pointless. As captor and captive, they seem to love each other, playing badminton and singing really, really bad folksongs in German, until the girl decides to try an escape. This very random series of events is punctuated by some of the worst photography I've seen in some time. Shot on cheap video, the image has limitations, but the shots look flatter than my dad's vacation videos. Outdoor shots appear to be photographs that, like animation, the camera zooms in and pans around on, creating an illusion of movement. I don't know if this is actually how the shots were done, but they look very strange.

Lionsgate's release of Dungeon Girl is as good as I could expect for this film and much more than it deserves. The transfer is clear and has no defects, but does show the limitations of the original video. The stereo sound is equally clear, though all that means is the horrible monologue is that much easier to hear. The only extras are a trailer and a commentary, in which we learn just how little Lommel understands about the original case and, along with the producer and Gunter Ziegler, goes on to mock the actual gir for having developed some symptons of Stockholm Syndrome, which is just totally classy.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

In "The Charge" section of this review, I mentioned witches, and at no other time did I bring them up. The same thing happens in Dungeon Girl. Gunter Ziegler voices random talk about witches over scenes of a woman being burned at a stake and somebody, presumably himself, molesting a doll. None of this, in the image or the sound, makes any sense with anything else in the film. On one level, I know that this is some feeble explanation for why the guy kidnaps this girl, but there isn't the first hint of relating it to the other stuff on screen. This, again, would make me made if it hadn't made me laugh. Along with some unintentionally very funny lines in the monologue, there is material for MST3K fans who want to have some good clean fun with a bad and dirty film.

Closing Statement

It's hard to say what Dungeon Girl wants to be. At times, it seems like a horror film, though never a very effective one. At times, it seems like it's supposed to be a true crime film. Given Lommel's history of making badly drawn pictures about serial killers, this would make sense, but he freely admits that, beyond the core idea, there is only a fraction of a sliver of truth in this film, so it's hardly that. All I can see is one man's prurient fantasy of imprisoning someone who, deep down, really enjoys it.

Truly, Dungeon Girl is one of the worst movies I've seen in some time. I try to find good things to say about the movies I watch but, aside from the few funny lines, there is nothing but inept, soulless, bad filmmaking here.

The Verdict

Reprehensible and stupid in every way, Dungeon Girl and everyone associated are found guilty on all charges and will be held until they promise to quit it.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 60
Audio: 70
Extras: 20
Acting: 10
Story: 10
Judgment: 25

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Crime
• Drama
• Exploitation
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Director's commentary
• Trailer


• IMDb

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