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Director: Marian Dora
Cast: Thomas Goersch, Tatjana Müller, J. Lisa Dombrowski
Massacre Video / Region 1 / Unrated / 1.78:1 widescreen / Mono / 73 minutes
Extras: Rare On-Camera Interview with Director Marian Dora and Thomas Goersch / Four Short Films By Marian Dora / Stills Gallery / Reversible Cover / Trailers For Upcoming Massacre Video Releases / Theatrical Trailer
Filmmaker Marian Dora is best known for the intensely gory and homoerotic film Cannibal, based on the German case of Armin Meiwes who met a man on the internet who wanted to let Meiwes fulfill his cannibalistic fantasies by sacrificing himself to him. A few years after Cannibal, Dora was approached to make a movie on a yacht. Now they had a location, but instead of having a story and complex plot, they would have a vague situation and build a movie on what would happen on this boat if this situation occurred. If you know anything about Dora's other movies, including Cannibal and Melancholie der Engel, you know that he just loves symbolism and with Voyage to Agatis, you get that in spades.
Voyage to Agatis begins with troubled couple Raphael and Isabel driving to the marina to hop on their yacht to sail the world. The night before, they are having a few drinks and Raphael decides much to Isabel's chagrin to pick up young Lisa to take aboard with them to add a bit of spice to the pot. Little does Lisa know that her relaxing, adventurous boat ride would turn into a torturous nightmare. Raphael begins by verbally abusing his wife, but when Lisa steps in, his tone turns much more sadistic. He begins by taunting her and throwing her clothes overboard because she won't get nude. Then he ties her to the bow of the boat and brutally rapes her. His blood lust grows and the next morning he unties her and lets her swim to shore, where the REAL fun begins.
The lack of a story really isn't an issue here. Raphael and Isabel are very interesting characters and their relationship is complex. Their interactions are engrossing and uncomfortable. Dora never really goes into their past too much other than to show in the opening shot that Raphael has killed a young girl before. Their dynamic seems to me to be reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome. She is repulsed by his actions, going as far as to help Lisa, but never stands up to him out of fear. I figure that she may have, in fact, been a past victim who he decided to keep alive. I also think that he wanted to replace Isabel with Lisa until she spoke back to him. There is a female narrator (who I assume is Isabel, as it's never explained) who speaks in poetry that probably explains a lot but I missed it, which I will explain later.
The brutality that is recorded by Dora in Voyage to Agatis is hard to watch. Everything is very up-close and personal with tight camera shots zooming right in on the action. A mouth is slowly sliced from cheek to cheek, ala Heath Ledger's "Joker". There's a disembowelment. A breast is cut open and turned inside-out. And most shockingly, a vagina is stabbed over and over in a stomach-churningly sexual way. Those things sounds terrible, but in the context of the way the movie is shot and the characterizations, it makes it so much more worse. Like Melancholie der Engel, there is baby doll symbolism that was, again, lost on me. In the opening credits and near the closing credits, a baby doll floats in disgustingly filthy water while the narrator waxes about stuff and other things.
Massacre Video brings this seething slice of gory sleaze from the German underground straight to DVD. The picture quality is good for what it is; a very low-budget, shot-on-video cheapie. That means it looks jumpy throughout a some of the movie and it's never crystal clear, but it gets the job done. Same with the audio. A pretty big problem is with the subtitles, presumably done specifically for this release, which are pretty terrible. The translation seems to be from Google Translator with no accounting for syntax or clear meaning. Hell, even some of the words, simple words, are misspelled. I lost some of the possible explanations of things in the narration because of this, but it in no way ruined the movie for me. I am still haunted and repulsed by Voyage to Agates.
The DVD extras were all very good and informative. The two interviews with Dora and Thomas Goersch are entertaining, their candidness is refreshing. The big draw for me though was the four short films by Dora. "Caribbean Sunrise" is a two-minute blurb that could have easily been the aftermath of Voyage to Agatis. "Der Puppenschänder II" is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen; a man rapes doll with corkscrew, knocks out another man and strips him, then straddles the poor guy's naked ass and masturbates onto the doll. "Die Toten von San Angelo" is a black and white slide show of real corpses. And finally, the best one, "Journey Into Perversion" is a documentary of sorts, about the legendary Jess Franco, containing footage of the steps taken for him to make a film, but with no narration and set to music.