Euro-Horror Binge: The Samurai (Der Samurai, 2014, Germany)

Not to be confused with the 1967 Alain Delon classic, this thrilling German horror was one of the most hotly anticipated titles in my Euro-horror binge. Written and directed by Till Kleinert, The Samurai was picked up for UK distribution by LGBT cinema house Peccadillo Pictures - one of the main reasons it spurred my interest. LGBT themed horrors are rare - unless you are opting for the titillating camp of Dante's Cove, so a genuine attempt at horror with a gay-angle is something with great appeal.

Blurring surreal fantasy, sharp tension and lashing of gore, The Samurai plays out like a contemporary allegory of the Red Riding Hood story - instead of a big bad wolf, we've got a menacing cross-dresser (Pit Bukowski) with a samurai sword hunting down a local police officer (Michel Diercks) - a logical next step, clearly.

Kleinert's direction is efficient and to the point, sparing none of the short seventy-nine minute runtime and ensuring we are fully immersed from the onset. Thanks to the evocative German woodland setting and Kleinert's preference to let eerie silence and lingering shots do most of the talking, The Samurai has a isolated, menacing appeal. Yet most of the menace comes from Bukowski's unhinged title character who dances through the sleepy German town delivering mischief and blood-thirsty chaos in equal measure. 

With two central characters, the repressed cop Jakob and his obsession, the wolf, Der Samurai, it's easy to read more into homoerotic nature of this horror. Is the Samurai a violent representation of Jakob's repressed queer otherness? Most likely, but Kleinert never makes the thematics overly-telling or explicit, allowing you to adopt your own reading if you choose to do so. Although I'd imagine most people will have their own thoughts from the final scene where the Samurai with a full erection is decapitated unleashing bursts of fireworks while Swedish Eurovision glam-rockers The Ark play. 

It's punchy, evocative and utterly unique - every thing a queer horror great should be.

Till Kleinert 8292224555713344339
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