Flashback was one of those random titles I found nestling on the shelves of my local video shop, & having heard nothing about it was curious enough to give it a quick rent. What I discovered was a fairly low budget German comedy slasher flick, which basically plays as a broadly comic melding of A Blade in the Dark, & Psycho 2. Indeed, these two are only the most prominent borrowings, as I really can’t think of a single original element in the whole film, which at various times calls to mind April Fool’s Day, Phenomena, I Know…, Urban Legend, The Shining, & indeed pretty much any modern horror you could care to think of. What distinguishes the film (to a certain extent) is its picturesque Germanic mountain setting, & the sheer energy of its direction to enliven its comic take on the clichés.
A nutter in a dress is going around with a sickle, murdering teenagers just as they are getting it on (cue an amusingly wooden & utterly superfluous attack on a train). He next attacks a husband & wife (with a hysterical hand-licking Urban Legend moment), & corners their young daughter Jeanette. Cut forward about 10 years, & Jeanette is now residing in a Mental Institution, unable to remember what happened next. Nevertheless, her doctor decides that she is ready to rejoin society, so he gets her to act as a French tutor for the children of one of his friends (who is away on business), who are living in a big mansion alone with their weird housekeeper Mrs Lust. Pretty soon she starts to see weird men in dresses. Is she losing the plot, or has the killer come back to reclaim his final victim?
So it’s an entirely second hand plot, but the real ingenuity is in the manner in which all the different plot elements are mixed together to give something that, whilst by no means fresh or original, doesn’t always unfold exactly how you think it’s going to. It’s not a particularly scary film, but the energetic camerawork of writer/director Karen does manage to inject some drive into some of the sequences, and whilst it wears out its welcome somewhat by the banal climax for the most part it’s an entertaining ride. It is also very much played for laughs, & whilst quite a bit of the broad humour falls very flat indeed, it also boasts some real laugh-out-loud moments. The astonishingly lumbering & frankly terrible dialogue could well be due to the shabby English dub on this version, but if anything it makes it that little bit funnier. Composer Siggi Muller contributes an amusingly OTT score, which at times plays like a blatent remix of Marco Beltrami’s classic techno/choral work on Scream.
Flashback ultimately doesn’t add anything new to an overcrowded genre, & doesn’t always carry through as much as it’s going to – the wet T-shirt competition during the inevitable party scene is supremely disappointing – but it’s an entertaining & often highly amusing diversion. Whilst it’s certainly not a title I’d want clogging up my shelf forever, it’s a decent enough rental for a bit of a laugh. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself one question: Could you really dislike a film that casts Elke Sommer as a strange housekeeper called Mrs Lust?