Dard Divorce (2007) (87 minutes)
Directed by Olaf Ittenbach.
Written by Olaf Ittenbach.
Starring Martina Ittenbach, Daryl Jackson and Jaymes Butler.
Olaf Ittenbach is a German auteur who is a combination of Tom Savini and Takashi Miike. Originally a dental technician, Ittenbach then became a top notch SFX artist, his most notable credit being for BloodRayne by Uwe Boll.
Along with Boll, Jorg Buttgereit and Adreas Schnaas, he is part of the German new wave bringing media attention to their underground films specializing in rape, necrophilia and extreme violence. Ittenbach prefers to write his own material in addition to directing, doing the special effects and at times, being his own cinematographer. Sometimes his biggest virtues are his biggest vices.
Ittenbach’s films focus on pain, body destruction and gore, preferably as much that can be jammed into a two hour film. One of his films, The Burning Moon, was banned [in various countries] because it was accused of glorifying violence.
If you get queasy at the sight of a little blood, then Dard Divorce will put you into a coma. The story concerns an unhappily married couple in the midst of a divorce. The film starts out as a pretty decent Hitchcockian thriller, the only flaw being Martina Ittenbach who isn’t the greatest actress on either side of the Atlantic.
One night, her estranged husband shows up at her home with mortal wound and promptly croaks right there on the upstairs landing. He also had custody of their two children that day, but they are nowhere in sight. Naturally she calls the cops, but when they arrive the corpse has vanished. There is no trace of blood, in fact, no sign that anything’s amiss. The police are skeptical but one returns to offer protection and to question her further about hubby’s activities.
The pace accelerates from here as the kind public servant becomes more unhinged as he tells the frightened woman a fanciful tale of crooked cops, a drug deal gone bad, and that he chainsawed her son to death, in an effort to get the husband to tell the cop where the money from the ill-fated deal went. He also refuses to believe that the wife doesn’t know where the heck the moolah is hidden.
The death of the son is not graphic, but graphic enough. When the wife continues to insist she doesn’t know anything about the money, the cop snaps and delivers nine or ten direct shots to the lady’s proboscis. Ittenbach knows his SFX and the sound effects match the action squish for thud. John Law also snips off a toe in a close-up single take shot, which is very convincing.
The film’s penultimate scene comes when the cop describes the drug deal gone way, way wrong. The viewer is treated to a decapitation by shotgun, a man being hacked to death with a cleaver (not one or two strokes but about twenty) some poor schmuck getting a knife thrown into his mouth, a chef gets a kitchen fork embedded in his eye, and a full on throat slashing. I don’t believe that covers everything but you get the idea.
Back to the present, our friendly neighborhood policeman has tired of our lady’s toes and is about to move on to removing her fingers, one by one. She’s finally had about enough of this nonsense, so she grabs an empty wine bottle and smashes it into the dude’s throat.
Just when you think she’s safe, a sinister figure enters her home, offering comfort. He binds her wounds and gives her a sedative. While snoozing she has an effectively filmed nightmare that is one of the best parts of the film, other than the gore.
Well, the stranger isn’t who he seems to be, unfortunately for the poor lady. He’s also after the missing money, and doesn’t believe she’s ignorant as to its whereabouts. He starts off the interrogation by paralyzing her, then telling her how he tortured, murdered then dismembered her lover. He shows her the lover’s eyeball and proceeds to wolf the sucker down. Very weird.
Of course, we are shown what happened to the lover in graphic detail, so Ittenbach hasn’t finished with us yet. Once the interrogation begins we are treated to some more mayhem.
The film ends up with a surprise, albeit illogical, ending that is pretty satisfying morally as well as being a slick, neat wrap up to an otherwise insane flick.
Dard Divorce has some strengths but just as many weaknesses. The movie is hamstrung by weak acting, an inappropriate soundtrack that sometimes obscures the dialogue by its sheer volume, and a narrative that has a few glaring holes.
On the other hand, the SFX are impeccable and the cinematography is by turns, moody, sinister and gorgeous. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t take full advantage of its San Francisco location, but the scenes outside the city, filmed at the woman’s rural home, are beautiful to behold and add to the film’s excitement.
I enjoyed the film despite some of its faults, and would highly recommend it to all horror fans, in particular those who have never seen an Ittenbach movie.
Ittenbach obviously has some talent as a director and is a jaw-dropping SFX whiz. It would be in his best interests, though, to use a screenwriter for future efforts. Imagine what he could do with a creative narrative driving the film instead of the SFX.