The Merits of Sin: Black Past (1989) (Germany)

First full length feature from amateur German splatter master Olaf Ittenbach is jam packed with that garbage film enthusiasm I love and some awesome just as enthusiastic graphic violence. If you’re a Ittenbach homer like me you need to see it (like you haven’t already) and any fan of backyard trash horror must put this on their watchlist.

Ittenbach to the future

Thommy (the man himself, Olaf Ittenbach) and his family move into a new house and upon an attic search for a guest bed, Thommy discovers a trunk wrapped in chains. Our power mulleted hombre decides to get inside that damn box and isn’t going to let any of those warning signs a normal human would heed stand in his way. Thommy, you god damn fool.

Essence of idiocy

The contents of said attic box are an antique mirror and a diary. Thanks to an opening flashback we know some bad shit went down in this house prior to Thommy and the gang moving in. Thommy is about to discover through the power of reading, that a man went crazy and killed his family. The diary warns of an evil presence taking over and the cursed mirror being behind it. Reading this, Thommy and his buddy laugh it off and decide to hang the mirror up. Uh oh.

Oh you beautiful idiots

It doesn’t take long for horrific visions and nightmares to plague our mullet crowned hero. He’s either being tortured (there’s a nail driven into his penis which is then severed, followed by a sloppy gutting) or witnessing the brutal murders of his family. He tries to just shake it all off but it’s becoming tougher. When the mirror manipulates his girlfriends to take a walk into oncoming traffic, he slips into depression.

Yeah. What do you think?

His family and friends don’t get why Thommy is so sad. They were only dating for a little bit. Man, those Germans are cold. Already on shaky mental ground, when the dead love of his life starts visiting him in visions and going after him, Thommy starts to break.

The shit show plays out and it leads up to a full on possession where Thommy rips his skin off and turns into a monster. He does away with his family and attacks his visiting friends. Along the way we’re treated to plenty of eyeball violence, genital trauma and a whole bunch of dismemberment. Knives, axes and a chainsaw are all put to good use and everybody is an idiot.


Like most films along these lines, the whole thing pretty much serves as an excuse for over the top violence. Unlike the majority of lovely garbage this era treated us to, most of the carnage contained within Black Past is expertly pulled off. Yeah. It’s still obviously constrained by its budget but holy hell does it have teeth! 8/10

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