Released by: Videonomicon
Released on: December 20th, 2016.
Director: N.G. Mount (a.k.a. Norbert Moutier)
Cast: Robert Alaux, Françoise Deniel, Pierre Pattin, Howard Vernon
Purchase From Videonomicon
N.G. Mount’s Ogroff (a.k.a. Mad Mutilator) is an 8mm low budget cheapie that, for better or worse, owns the distinction of being the first slasher movie to ever come out of France. Inspired by pictures like Friday The 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night Of The Living Dead and directed by a man who wanted to rent out his own movie at his video store, it gleefully tosses logic out the window and concentrates instead on some amazing low rent gore effects and bizarre set pieces.
When the film begins, a husband and wife and their young child are at the side of a backwoods road. The father is over by the brush, possibly urinating, when a man with a leather face mask and a white sweater appears – the father and the girl are chopped up with his axe, when the mother makes a break for it. A passing motorist offers some hope – but NO! – he refuses to stop. It looks like her salvation appears in the form of a guy on a bike… until we find out that the guy on the bike is the guy who killed her husband and kid! The killer catches her, but she gets away, then he catches her again… and this time she’s not so lucky. He takes her back to his charming hut in the middle of the woods and after nailing her to a cross he proceeds to mutilate her. Madly! For he is Ogroff, and he is the mad mutilator.
From there, we sort of follow Ogroff around as he does his thing – some people play chess in the woods… and keep playing chess in the woods (this scene goes on forever but don’t you dare hit the fast-forward button!) until Ogroff shows up and kills them. Then he trashes a Citroen, feeds various body parts to his small dog, pops up out of someone’s trunk, gets into a fight with a chainsaw wielding lumberjack. This is all well and good, just a day in the life, right? But things change when ol’ Ogroff meets a lady we assume will be his next victim, the movie pulls the rug out from under us – this is Ogroff’s true love! Their romance is short lived, however, because the zombies that live in Ogroff’s basement are freed and arise to wreak havoc across the French countryside. When Ogroff’s beloved is kidnapped by an aging vampire (played by none other than Howard Vernon!), he has no choice but to get on his motorcycle and set out to save his gal to win the day…
The acting is subpar but it doesn’t matter. The continuity and editing is awful, but again, it doesn’t matter. The story is comprised of bits and pieces taken from other, better movies, but we don’t hold this against the film. Ogroff exists on its own level, it comes from another planet. A planet where it’s okay for its lead character to masturbate with an axe in a charming French cottage decorated with centerfolds and moldy food. A planet where it’s perfectly acceptable for an axe wielding maniac to bend an eight year old over a stump and then saw that kids head off. It’s a planet where a basement of zombies exists where, previously, there was no basement of zombies and maybe more importantly, it’s a planet where Howard Vernon will show up out of nowhere in a Dracula costume, steal your girlfriend and then drive off in a sedan with her. Howard Vernon can do this because he’s Howard Vernon and fuck you, you can’t stop him – that is, unless you’ve got a motorbike. Then you can stop him. This is a planet where you can pop out of a trunk without having any foresight as to how you may have gotten in this trunk in the first place. This is a planet where you can kill chess players and then, more importantly, spend a few minutes hitting a car with an axe, just because you can.
Mount would go on to direct a few other films including Alien Platoon, Trepanator and Dinosaur From The Deep (which each star Jean Rollin in small roles) and a Richard Harrison ninja movie called Operation Las Vegas. Ogroff is his masterpiece, however. His heart was clearly in the right place. He obviously put a lot of effort into the gore effects, even if that severed head looks an awful lot like a piece of round Styrofoam. The score is awesome, except when it isn’t, but mostly it is. Amazing stuff, really.
Ogroff was shot for peanuts on Super 8mm film stock and transferred to Beta SP which is the source that was used for this release (the original 8mm elements were destroyed years ago). As such this is only going to really look so good, but while this may be rough around the edges, it’s plenty watchable. Some minor print damage and not so minor print damage shows up in the frame and there are spots where the analogue source makes itself known, but it is what it is. Videonomicon, to their credit, have given viewers the option of watching the original Beta SP transfer or a newly color corrected version that offers modest improvements in terms of color consistency and black levels throughout the duration of the movie.
A French language track is provided in Dolby Digital Mono with optional subtitles provided in English, French and Spanish. As the sound was mixed directly onto the film during editing, there are audible ‘thud’ noises clearly heard any time that the film uses an inserted sound effect (when this happens you’re actually hearing the splice). There isn’t much dialogue here at all but the film’s score, a Carpenter-inspired synth piece gone very, very wrong, sounds alright. Really, someone should put the soundtrack for this out on CD or vinyl because as screwy as it is, it’s kind of great.
There aren’t a ton of extras here but we do get a trailer for the feature and a still gallery as well as menus, disc credits and chapter selection. Bonus trailers are also included for Science Crazed and Ryan’s Babe, both available from Videonomicon. For the DVD-Rom enabled, if you plop the disc into your PC you can access high res scans of the poster and VHS art contained in the still gallery as well as access some cool behind the scenes Polaroids.
As far as the packaging goes, Videonomicon have provided some awesome reversible cover art and also included a color insert booklet inside the clear DVD keepcase. The booklet contains an article on the history of the film by Andy Bolus of Evil Moisture and a review for the film by Bleeding Skull’s Joseph A. Ziemba (that also appeared in the book Bleeding Skull! A1980’s Trash-Horror Odyssey) alongside chapter listings, some notes on the transfer and credits for the DVD release.
The Final Word:
Ogroff Mad Mutilator is pretty great stuff, a low budget gore fest with just enough unseemly content to go along with the grue to get under your skin a bit. It doesn’t always make sense but it is always entertaining and you’ve got to admire the spirit and dedication that went into creating this 8mm mind fuck. Videonomicon bring the film to DVD for the first time in North America looking about as good as it probably can – anyone with even a passing interest in low budget horror pictures of the eighties should consider this one essential.