EVEN HITLER HAD A GIRLFRIEND
Color, 1991, 89 mins. 2 secs.
Directed by Ronnie Cramer
Starring Andren Scott, Sarah Young, Jean Wolf, Christie Cass
THE HITLER TAPES
Color, 1994, 38 mins. 24 secs. / 35 mins. 45 secs.
Directed by Ronnie Cramer
Starring Andren Scott, Karen Zaczkowski, Sheila Ivy Traister
Livid Media (DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.66:1) (16:9)
Digging around the more obscure VHS scene in the '90s, chances are you'd stumble across one of the works of Colorado-based artist, musician, and filmmaker Ronnie Cramer, who directed the astonishing bodybuilder documentary Highway Amazon and got some buzz from no less than Joe Bob Briggs over his most well-known film, Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend. The latter and its more obscure two-part sequel have been revived by the folks at Livid Media as a two-disc pressed DVD set (as well as a combo pack with a T-shirt), released not long after Cramer's untimely death in 2021.
"Hello. My name is Marcus Templeton, and I'd like to show you how I spent my life savings in less than two weeks." That's how we first meet the protagonist of Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend, which is technically classified as a comedy but feels like it's about to teeter over into horror at any minute. A sad-sack security guard, Marcus (Scott) is a peeping tom and porn addict who seems like a Travis Bickle in the making. Intent on improving his physique with huckster remedies, he also decides to start spending on money on prostitutes and recording the wildly unsuccessful results since he can't seem to get a bona fide date. Of course, things do not go well.
Essentially a critique of the mindset that would evolve into what is now regarded as incel culture, this is dressed up like an exploitation film (complete with a great deal of nudity) but also has a pretty wild sense of humor including some dialogue that will have you reaching for the rewind button a few times. The amateur videography angle gives it a queasy vibe that's mitigated by Scott's surprisingly winning performance; he may not be a professional actor, but he definitely knows how to handle funny line delivery. Extra points for the ironic and memorable finale, which may not be a huge surprise story-wise but does have a wry little touch at the end.
Released on VHS two years later, the same year Scott was tragically shot to death while working at a convenience store, The Hitler Tapes is a two-part sequel in which our antihero has somehow recovered from... well, what happened at the end of the first movie. Worried about getting his arteries clogged by greasy food and dealing with "a litany of sexual problems," he sends audio tapes of himself shaving his back(!) and crying to random women. From there we follow various other tapes he sends around pondering bathroom etiquette, his bodily foibles, and other stuff that mostly feels like filler outtakes from the first film. The opening is genuinely hilarious and promises great things that the rest can't really deliver, but it's still worth it just to see more of Scott inhabited this truly one-of-a-kind character.
Rescued from VHS oblivion, Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend is featured on disc one of the Livid Media edition along with a 2m2s written memoriam in Cramer's honor. Obviously the quality is limited by the original source, looking pretty VHS-ish but okay for what it is (and certainly better than any existing tapes are likely to look). Disc two has The Hitler Tapes split into two parts, presumably as originally intended, with similar video quality. Also included are a pair of still galleries (comprising over 150 photos from Cramer's collection), a crazy "Alarming Trends" music video for his band, trailers for both films, and bonus trailers for Back Street Jane and Highway Amazon. The package also comes with a foldout insert featuring Fred Adelman writing about Cramer's colorful life and career.
Reviewed on April 7, 2022.