The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein
Dr. Victor Wolffenstein, a genius and at the same time devilish doctor, has set himself a huge goal, he wants to become immortal. In the Year 1930, in a small village and with the help of scientific experiments and occult rituals, he brews a serum (POTION), which is supposed to help him achieve his goal. But the Serum has an unwanted side effect, he becomes immortal but has to pay a huge price, he becomes infected with necrosis, through which his limbs start to rot and the only thing left for him to do is to replace his body parts. Dr. Wolffenstein recklessly starts to harvest limbs from the other villagers; he mutilates and kills with no remorse. The villagers don't put up with this kind of the devil's work! An angry mob overpowers the Doctor in his office, kidnaps him and buries him alive. More than 80 years later, five teenagers are on their way to the biggest Rave party of the year. On their way they get stranded in a small village, due to a car accident, now they have to wait for the repair. To get the best out of their situation, the teenagers decide to visit a local discotheque and then the terror begins. Dr. Wolffenstein is back, with the help of his evil minion the Infiltrator he persuades his victims to come to him. The only thing in his mind is to end his curse, to find the flaw in his serum and to cure himself from the necrosis. Nothing and no one will be safe from him.
Oodles of naked boobs. A plethora of beaver shots. Gallons upon gallons of blood. Violence for violence sake. Complete and utter nonsense.
And a milestone of sorts. I’ve begun writing this review – for the German exploitation import The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein – as I’m coming up on the climax of the film.
And I don’t mean I’m brainstorming ideas for the forthcoming review (which I tend to do for most other films) – no. I’m sitting down on my laptop and writing the review before the film’s complete.
I’m perfectly certain that this film is so far beyond redemption, that I am confident enough to begin writing long before the end credits roll and to firmly (if somewhat prematurely) make the following statement:
The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein is quite simply awful.
In 1930, a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Wolffenstein (thus the title) is on the verge of discovering the secret to mortality. Thing is, the ultra-religious and superstitious village-folk want him dead. So an angry mob busts into his laboratory and whisk him away to be buried alive. He puts a curse on all of them, their ancestors, the village itself and all those who dare to come there. Fast forward to the present, and a group of college-age party kids are heading to a rave – conveniently in the same neck of the woods. All the while, the good Doctor has been back from the dead, experimenting on anyone and everyone – in an attempt to continue his work and find the answers to immortality. The kids experience weird locals who naturally warn them of the curse, but they continue on to their potential party nonetheless. And of course, bloody violence ensues.
First off, this film is an agonizing 115 minutes. That length of film is generally saved for epic love stories, stories which could be construed as more than one-note – perhaps even potential Oscar-bait. There’s barely enough presented here to justify a 90-minute horror quickie, let alone something so daunting in its overall length. Hell, this could have been a short film. Better yet – it could have never been made at all – thus saving any potential audience members the pain. Take my word for it – this is an avoid at all costs exercise if ever there was one.
This film is for anyone who loves gore above all else. The story is thin, the acting dreadfully bad (with the exception of a few terrified acting moments from Stephanie Meisenzahl as Jenny, as she expresses some authentic terror during the film’s climax) and there’s nothing of substance in anything you’ll see.
The story was strangely presented. As we see the group of kids tour the countryside on their way to this rave, the film intercuts with random deaths of random victims at the hands of the Doctor. We don’t know who any of these people are. We don’t care about our five leads, so why on earth should we care about a bunch of no-names? It’s a group of naked women waking up from some drug-induced slumber, to be brutally butchered by a dead madman – all in the name of science.
I get that this is supposed to be an exploitation piece, and we’re to be outraged by the copious shots of nudity and the never-ending blood-letting, but this doesn’t come across as what I expected it to be. I was truly expecting some sort of take on the torture porn sub-genre (Hostel, Saw and the like), where the violence was stomach-turning and “real” – even if the film had nothing else going for it. But The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein was actually quite cartoonish. My bottom line for so much gore and violence – is that it should be justified by the story. What little “story” there is here – well, the gore makes sense, but this wasn’t my idea of a good time.
I’ve called out a little known indie film from a few years back – The Ladies of the House for its sensible use of blood-letting. It’s got some serious over-the-top and nauseating gore, but it all fits within the well-told and character-driven story. That’s the key. Gore because the filmmakers sat down with their team and said, “Hehe, let’s gross some people out with naked chicks being brutally murdered… hehe” just doesn’t cut it. It’s not worth my time and it’s not worth your time.
Look, the locations are pretty nifty and the special effects/gore are pretty well done (the constant use of a particular gurgling sound whenever someone is whacked, chopped or impaled – is laugh-out-loud funny). There’s non-stop blood and lots of it. I lost count of how many people are killed, but the Doctor’s body count is impressive. Lots of machete killings, knifings, decapitations and disembowelings.
The score was uninspired and the weirdo choice to have songs with English lyrics, which sound like ‘80s-era rejects – doesn’t work, and feels like the filmmakers are making a half-assed attempt to appeal to a US audience.
The dialogue is (of course) in German, with English subtitles. I don’t speak German, but I can easily say that the translations are not good. In the prologue, the townsfolk refer to Dr. Wolffenstein as a “witcher”, and I’m assuming they meant a “witch”. Not that I cared one iota for who and what was on the screen, but jeepers – get the translations right. It’s distracting otherwise.
If you like gore (and only gore), then check out The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein. If you like some story, legitimate scares and suspense with your over-the-top gore, you simply won’t find it here. With no substance and very little cinematic style and filmmaking technique, this film just doesn’t work. It’s ultimately pointless.
The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein is now available on DVD/Bluray and on VOD.