I don’t like German splatter. I really don’t. Mostly because the story always gets fucked and instead the filmmakers focus on long, boring gore scenes which leads nowhere. So one thing I appreciate with Andreas Bethmann’s Help me I am Dead is that he actually tries to do something different and do it with some class. SOME class that is, not 100 % class - I mean, he’s a German director of gore and porn, what to expect? I bought this blu-ray last year when visiting Weekend of Horrors (and I even got Olaf Ittenbach - he did the special effects - to sign it, because he was wandering around the con like a normal, mortal man!) and it’s not until now, a year later, just a couple of days before the next Weekend of Horrors, I sat down to watch it. Was it worth the wait? Well, read on…
During a flashback to world war 2 we see a man getting executed on a country road by two high ranking nazi officers. We skip to present time when a young woman, Jennifer (Margarethe von Stern), bound to a wheelchair, interviews people in the small town she’s living in why they want to live there. In her research she finds an old abandoned house deep in a forest and decides to go there. When she enter the premises she suddenly realizes she can walk again, but only in there - when she tries to leave she’s forced to use her wheelchair again. So she stays, and slowly the mystery of the old house is creeping up on her, there’s ghosts behind these walls… and in the middle of it two criminals - played by Carsten Frank and Antonio Mayans - breaks in for some hours of “entertainment” with her! But the ghost refuse to look away and soon they’re all in grave dangers!
Oh, and there’s a VERY unnecessary hard softcore sex scene with director Bethmann (as a character named Mike) and the leading lady for a few minutes. That didn’t help the movie at all, let me tell you that.
First the good things: it looks quite good, the photography is crispy and looks good - even of Bethmann have no clue how to work with that 180-degree-rule, which makes the film confusing to watch the first 10-15 minutes, before you get use to it. Antonio Mayans is good, and I think Margarethe von Stern is quite decent also. Nothing fantastic, but it works in a movie like this. There’s a couple of gore scene, not many though, and the effects are made by Olaf Ittenbach - and he’s a talented man and it’s very graphic and nasty. Not bad at all. The location by itself is also cool, gives the movie some production values.
The bad things is that it’s two hours long and at least one hour of those is spent with the character Jennifer walking around doing absolutely fucking nothing. I’m not kidding ya! She looks, thinks, do stuff very slowly (this is something you completely can blame on Bethmann!), sleeps a bit, thinks more, look around corners… well, that’s about it. There’s a few flashbacks more explaining the story of the house and the terrible crime committed there a long time ago, but that’s it. Then the bad guys shows up and gets killed - but not until we’ve seen one of them take a leak in super-detail. It’s just a boring, boring story.
What I can give Bethmann here is that he tries to do something else than the usual German gore-fest. He works hard on the atmosphere of the house, he tries to build up a tension. The ghost is very inspired by Japanese horror and I dig that, not bad at all. He could have kept the ghost more in the shadows though, now it’s a bit too obvious it’s just a asian chick wearing make-up.
But he could have cut… let’s say, 30 minutes from the story - maybe even 40 minutes - and Help me I am Dead would have worked so much better. Then it could have been an okay ghost story instead of an overlong and tedious ghost story. Still, I can’t wait to see his next film, Terror Creek - I hope it’s available at the Weekend of Horrors!