• Lucker The Necrophagous (Synapse Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: May 20th, 2008
    Director: Johan Vandewoestijne
    Cast: Nick Van Suyt, Helga Vendevelde, Let Jotts, Marie Claes, Carry Van Middle, Martine Scherre
    Year: 1986/2007
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    Lucker The Necrophagous – Movie Review:

    From the demented mind of writer/editor/director Johan Vandewoestijne comes this middle finger to the Flemish government, Lucker The Necrophagous. Shot in 1986 when Vandewoestijne was a fledgling film student, the picture went on to develop a cult following over the years thanks to its no holds barred bloodshed and, well, one remarkably grisly scene in particular.

    The film begins at a hospital where John Lucker (Nick Van Suyt), a notorious serial killer and corpse lover who looks like a cross between Gorilla Monsoon and Peter Murphy, lies drugged up on a hospital bed. A doctor and a nurse discuss his strange case and talk about his penchant for raping decomposing corpses. Of course, Lucker escapes from the hospital (they couldn't even bother to tie him down!), steals a car, and begins his killing spree starting with the nurse.

    Once he's out of the hospital he heads to a bar where a Grizzly Adams looking dude serves him beer and sings the praises of a local hooker (Let Jotts), describing her as 'a fuck in a million.' Lucker and the hooker go back to her place for a little fun and as she goes off to slip into something more comfortable he unwinds by watching some porn and having a flashback related freak out. She wanders back into the room, ready for love, and he ties her to the bed and guts her. Four weeks later, Lucker is still hanging out in her pad, and the mood strikes. He fingers her corpse and licks his hands clean before undressing and doing the dirty deed to the poor dead whore. Meanwhile a couple of the dead hooker's friends, one of whom happens to have a spare key, come calling. They let themselves in and are appalled to find a bloody mess in the bed. Lucker's urges kick in again and he does what he does best but what he really wants is to finish a job he wasn't able to complete the first time around... only one woman ever escaped him, her name is Cathy (Helga Vandevelde) and she just so happens to be closer to Lucker than she realizes.

    Lucker is poorly written and poorly acted but it does have a couple of remarkably nasty scenes and a few scenes show some decent cinematography and lighting. Van Suyt makes for a weird enough lead, his performance almost entirely silent and primarily conveyed with morose body language. He's big enough and creepy enough to look the part even if the rest of the cast are completely disposable. The film shares a similar theme with Jorge Buttgereit's Nekromantik but whereas his film went for a slightly artier and more darkly comedic approach, Lucker plays it low brow. This is a trashy slasher through and through, it doesn't aspire to be anything more than that. The film is structured a lot like a porno movie, with the gore scenes replacing sex scenes and with everything occurring in between those scenes coming off as filler. That said, Lucker has a weird inexplicable quality to it that makes it completely watchable, warts and all. It's amateurish and poorly made but it's also enthusiastic, gratuitous, and oddly compelling.

    Lucker The Necrophagous – DVD Review:

    The original negative for Lucker was destroyed and all that was left to work with were some video tapes. It's from these tapes that the new director's cut of the film has been assembled. The 1.85.1 widescreen transfer is anamorphic and progressive and in comparison to the original VHS version found in the extra features, it contains much better colors and a fair bit more detail though some of the framing looks tight. That said, this is still a transfer taken from VHS tapes of an old 16mm film and as such, it's just not possible to make it look pristine. Many scenes are soft, there's print damage throughout, and sometimes things are a bit muddy looking. That said, this is still a big improvement, visually, over the VHS and DVD-R bootlegs that have been in circulation over the years.

    The English language Dolby Digital Stereo track sounds alright. It's not going to blow your mind but there aren't any glaring issues with hiss or unseemly background noise. Dialogue is a little muffled in some spots but generally it's pretty audible and the score sounds halfway decent. Again, as with the video, there was only so much that could be done with the materials available.

    First up, as a far as extra features go, is the original 'VHS Version' of Lucker presented in non-anamoprhic widescreen in English with burnt in Dutch subtitles. Sourced from the director's own personal VHS tape, the audio and video quality isn't going to blow you away but it's watchable enough. The film basically follows the exact same storyline as the director's cut, starting at the hospital and ending at the apartment building with Lucker taking a few lives and boning a corpse along the way. The big difference here is that this original version contains a lengthy scene that takes place in a video store (dig that Return of the Jedi poster on the counter!). While he's in the store a television broadcast alerts local citizens of Lucker's escape from a mental hospital and of the killings he was responsible for at the hospital. This version runs a few minutes longer than the director's cut of the film, clocking in at roughly seventy-four minutes. The transfer isn't quite as colorful as that on the director's cut nor does it have as much detail but it's still nice to see that the original version of the film has been preserved on DVD.

    Alongside the original version of the film is a featurette entitled Lucker: The Story Behind The Film (36:08). The bulk of this featurette is made up of interview footage with writer/director/editor Johan Vandewoestijne who sits in front of a yellow wall wearing a yellow sweater discussing the origin and subsequent reactions to his film. Johan covers the inspiration behind the film, talks about some of the effects work and the cast, and also discusses the reasons behind his director's cut of the film. We also get a look at some of the original VHS art for the film and are treated to some footage of the locations used in the film as they appear today. While a director's commentary track would have been very welcome, this featurette is at least in-depth enough that it sheds some much needed light on the story behind this enigmatic and fairly notorious film.

    Some nasty animated menus are included on the DVD as is a chapter selection sub-menu. Inside the keepcase is an insert that replicates the cover art on one side and contains an advertisement for 'More Gory Horror Film Synapse Films!' on the other.

    Lucker The Necrophagous– The Final Word:

    Lucker will really only appeal to gorehounds as there isn't much of a story and despite some neat lighting, the production values are none too hot. That said, the film has a savage intensity to it and it's quirky enough to be entertaining in an 'eeewwww gross' sort of way. Synapse has done the best they can with the substandard materials available to them and have thankfully included the original cut and a genuinely interesting featurette alongside the new director's cut to give this disc some context.