Aside from possibly his charmingly callous hero-worship-gone-homicidal cult flick Der Fan (1982) and his superficially-stylized Americanized action-romance-drama flick Alpha City (1985), German auteur Eckhart Schmidt is a relatively forgotten, if somewhat deservedly so, filmmaker who has many more cinematic misses than hits, but he has created a couple works that deserve critical reevaluation and even a serious cult following, most specifically his rather bizarre and thoroughly engrossing cross-genre pseudo-arthouse work Loft (1985). Like a merry mongrel mix between the visual and audio aesthetic of Slava Tsukerman's iconic new wave sci-fi flick Liquid Sky (1982) and the visceral and psychotically playful brutality of Wes Craven’s popular exploitation flick The Last House on the Left (1972) and its Italian-clone The House on the Edge of the Park (1980) directed by Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust), Loft is a curious cinematic work that is every bit as idiosyncratic, entertaining, and controversial (at least for its time) as it sounds, but it is also packed with ostentatious artistic pretensions and a glaring (non)socio-political message that has not aged gracefully, although these sometimes repelling cinematic flaws do add a secondary and wholly unintentional layer of character to the film that make it all the more noteworthy. Despite its blemishes, Loft is easily the most enthralling and unintentionally uproarious ‘horror’ film that I had the random pleasure of viewing this summer. Also, like Tsukerman's Liquid Sky, Loft features a primitive and unhealthily addictive electronic score created by the director that further accentuates agitating ambiance of the film. If the Baader-Meinhof Group were anarchic punks with more of a proclivity towards creating gigantic sinister cock paintings, gently raping bourgeois bitches, and reciting pretentious poetry than being suicidal media whores, they might resemble the villainous art collective featured in Loft; a sensational and sassy celluloid shock piece that has the prestigious distinction of provoking much controversy in supposedly "artistically free" Germany upon its original release.
Undoubtedly, Loft is my favorite effort from the anti-arthouse auteur Eckhart Schmidt who once had the audacity to state,"I would rather film a naked girl than a discussion of problems," in a country where kultur and artistic prudishness have always reigned. Indeed, Loft may not compare with a R.W. Fassbinder nor Werner Schroeter film in terms of artistic refinement, but it is indubitably one of the greatest and most innovatory dystopian rape-revenge flicks ever made and thus worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Mark L. Lester’s Class of 1984 (1982), Liquid Sky (1982), and even James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984). In short, Loft is pulp cinema at its best; terribly trashy, morally ambiguous, infinitely quotable, succulently stylized, and – above all us – wickedly and utterly entertaining, but with a peculiar tinge of artistic merit. That being said, it is interesting to note that Eckhart Schmidt seems to mock the artistic sternness and fanaticism of the villains of Loft, as if he made the film in part as a celluloid anti-love letter to Fassbinder and the rest of the overly genteel auteur filmmakers of the German New Wave. If Loft makes any sort of political message, it is an 'apolitical' one expressing Schmidt's staunch disdain for all things politics, be it socio-political, realpolitik, or otherwise. In the end, the upper-class is still at the top, and the anarchist artists and their art have literally faded into history, henceforth acting as Schmidt's final political statement on the futility of filmmakers and other artists in their vainglorious attempts to change the world. Needless to say, Schmidt went on to direct films about voluptuous, bare-breasted mermaids (Undine) and softcore skinflicks (Motel Girls), but Loft provides copious, if crude and cryptic, evidence that the German auteur has more than just beautiful brunettes with marvelous mammary glands on his mind.