... aka: Hansel and Gretel
... aka: Hansel and Gretel, Lost in the Forest
... aka: Lass uns Knuspern Mäuschen
... aka: Naked Wytche, The
F.J. (Franz Josef) Gottlieb
What in the holy hell is up with all these recent Hansel and Gretel-themed action-horror-comedy movies, anyway? The modestly successful big budget theatrical release Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), directed by Norwegian Tommy Workola (or Dead Snow fame), is probably to blame for all this, but almost immediately after it we got such direct-to-DVD releases as Duane Journey's Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (2013), David DeCoteau's Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft (2013), Anthony C. Ferrante's Hansel and Gretel (2013) as well as numerous short subjects. There are several more of these currently in the pipeline as of this writing, including a sequel to Workola's film currently in pre-production and scheduled for a 2016 release. I guess it's the same thing that happened when Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) spawned Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) a year earlier but, still, Hansel & Gretel of all things. Really? That's just strange and random. In any case, I was originally planning on watching Giovanni Simonelli's take on this classic fairy tale, 1990's Hansel e Gretel (1990), which was "supervised" and supposedly partially directed by Lucio Fulci, but for some reason ended up popping this German soft-core flick in instead. I'm actually kind of glad I did in a way.
A camera pans over an urban industrial complex as our off-screen narrator Oskar (given an annoying fey voice in the dub), promises a fairy tale that's "a lot more fun" than the children's story. I guess we'll see about all that. We then meet blonde couple Hansel (Dagobert Walter) and Gretel (Francy Fair) as they frolic around in a pond. Even though they've been dating for nine weeks, Gretel is reluctant to put out and Hansel is getting frustrated dealing with her. The two then have a hilarious argument featuring some of the worst horny male coercion dialogue ever. He explains her how natural sex is, what a good cook she is and even points to the fields and screams, "Everywhere you look everything is blooming thanks to fertilization!" I don't know about you, but I think the last word a virgin preparing for her first time out wants to hear is "fertilization," Gretel shrieks back "You're nothing but a male nymphomaniac!," accuses him of accompanying her on this trip only because he thought she'd put out and then slaps him in the face when he grabs her tits. The queeny narrator chimes in "Welllll, that certainly put a damper on things" as a tree is shown falling down. A subtle bit of symbolism it ain't.
The two then go for a drive in the country, a tree falls in front of their car and they decide to go to a secluded spot in the woods to make a picnic and camp. There, they get into another heated argument where he whines some more about her not putting out while she whines about he should marry her first. It's not even ten minutes into the film and I'm already wanting to see these two lovebirds slowly cooking in a boiling pot. Thankfully, the extremely sexy Countess Helga (Barbara Klingered aka Barbara Scott) shows up on horseback to invite the duo back to her mountaintop castle and things begin to look a little more promising. Once there, they meet the Countess' staff, including butler Fritz (extremely prolific Austrian actor Herbert Fux), buxom maid Gertrude (Erika Kambach) and voyeuristic woodsman Oskar, our narrator, who's played by German comedian / singer Karl Dall, a sufferer of ptosis, a disorder where the muscles that raise the eyelid aren't strong enough to fully open it, resulting in a permanently droopy eyelid.
Gretel insists on having her own bedroom, which leads to another bicker-fest. Hansel tries to sneak into her room later that night, falls into some fertilizer and then drinks some hallucinogen wine given to him by Oskar that results in a major trip-out nightmare involving murder, bloody whipping, a woman being stretched out on a rack, a vampire and kaleidoscopic visions of skulls and burning candles. The Countess is not only a bewitching beauty but also an ugly witch who keeps giving the couple conflicting advice in order to drive them apart so she can get her claws into Hansel. Will the troubled young couple finally have a happy ending, so to speak? Just what is the "pinnacle of ecstasy" the Countess speaks so highly of? And if I said it involved having sex in a cage in front of a bunch of zoo animals would you believe me?
There's skinny-dipping, voice-overs from at least three different characters, ping pong, lots of shots of animals doing their thing, communal showering, horse-riding through an apple orchard, sex in a Rolls Royce in view of a bunch of children on a field trip, a giant porcelain penis statue sitting beneath a giant porcelain clam shell statue (there's some more of that clever symbolism for ya!) and some great outdoor scenery. In other words, there's something for everyone...
Trendy post-Graduate between-the-legs shots!
Pervy wooden puppet play!
If you can get past the horrid English dubbing (the male lead is particularly irritating), then this isn't all that bad for what it is. The good-looking cast spend as much time with their clothes off than on, there's some surprisingly clever camerawork and stylish lighting and enough oddball happenings to keep it all unpredictable and interesting. The director also made numerous krimi in the late 50 through the 60s, like THE BLACK ABBOT (1963) and The Phantom of Soho (1964), as well as the vampire comedy Lady Dracula (1977).
Sunset International Releasing distributed this in theaters here in America in 1972 under the title The Naked Wytche and with the tagline "A bedtime story for grown ups under 80." That was followed by a poor-quality Something Weird Video release (titled The Erotic Adventures of Hansel and Gretel) that was missing over five minutes of footage. What I viewed was a composite using the English dubbing track and the uncut 80-minute version, sourced from the German VHS distributed by Video Medien Pool (VMP) under the title Lass uns Knuspern Mäuschen (which Google Translate tells me means "Let's Crunch the Little Mouse").