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Plot: the raunchy Schulmädchen are here. Hilarity ensues!

In the late sixties something interesting happened in German comedy. Franz Josef Gottlieb released his faux-documentary The Miracle Of Love (1968) wherein the sexual fantasies of a supposedly-but-not-really married couple were explored in pseudo-scientific manner through a number of tantalizing vignettes. Its companion piece The Ideal Marriage (1970) is lousy in comparison and Hermann Schnell’s Anatomy of an Orgasm (1970) actually goes out of its way to be scientific and supposedly educational. A trait that all three share is that they were white-coat erotica, a particular strain of sexploitation that filled grindhouses before the advent of hardcore pornography. White-coat erotica in turn gave rise to the much more popular and widely known Report-films, a series of pseudo-documentaries chronicling the sex life of whatever their subject happened to be (schoolgirls, housewives, nurses, et al.) The Report films were a lewd spin on educational films (Aufklärungsfilme) since television was still a fairly novel concept. They were a decade-long, mostly German phenomenon that happened parallell with the raunchy Tiroler sex comedy getting more bawdy as sexual mores became more liberated and permissive in the late sixties and early seventies. From 1975 onward the Schoolgirl Report series took a dip as sex cinemas became popular but would continue to exist into the early 1980s until they no longer were deemed profitable.

Schulmädchen-Report: Was Eltern nicht für möglich halten (or Schoolgirl Report: What Parents Don't Think Is Possible) was the original and is historically important for exactly that reason. It’s now almost a relic from a much more innocent time. Loosely based on the non-fictional Schulmädchen-Report by sexologist Günther Hunold the Schoolgirl Report from Ernst Hofbauer professes to take a scientific look at the sexual lives of girl students. Schoolgirl Report was something of a gathering of West Germany’s comedic talent. Not only is Ernst Hofbauer directing, Walter Boos was in the editing suite and co-directed. Producing was none other than Wolf C. Hartwig. On their own each man carved out a place in German comedy and their bundling of forces could only result in something that would revolutionize the German comedy for years to come. The timing couldn’t have been better too. In 1968 French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir released her two-volume treatise The Second Sex concerning the treatment of women through out history. The tomes are considered a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. The Italian mondo documentaries were in full swing. At the same time the sexual revolution swept over the United States and the wider world. Conservative sexual mores, once sanctified, became archaic relics of yore, as permissiveness became the norm. Across the world people were looking for a more egalitarian society and the dominant ethos was that of varied and flexible gender roles for women. What better time than now to capitalize on the sexual escapades of those wicked and wild schulmädchen?

A delegation of eminent figures in the fields of psychology, sociology and science are called upon by concerned parents and faculty members alike when a schulmädchen is discovered in the throes of passion with the busdriver on a schooltrip. As parents and educators are mystified what to do with the situation, and whether or not to expel the girl for her transgressions, the school dean (Wolf Harnisch) is more than willing to hear the informed opinions of the scientific community, among them sociologist Dr. Vogt (Helga Kruck), as well as respected local municipal gatekeepers. Even the girl’s psychologist Dr. Bernauer (Günther Kieslich) is allowed to defend the girl’s case. The panel is moderated by a reporter (Friedrich von Thun) shooting a documentary about the case. Intercut are candid “on the street” interviews with people across age brackets and demographics and confessional vignettes following a dozen or so Püppchen as they go about their lives and talk about their sexual fantasies or – misadventures Schoolgirl Report tries its darnedest to be a serious dissertation of what it considers an alarming new trend among the German youth, the practice of free love. The libertine and promiscuous lifestyle of their daughters has their repressed and conservative parents in a state of disbelief and shock. Erwin C. Hartwig and Ernst Hoffbauer had their finger at the pulse of youth counterculture when the sexual revolution of the late sixties swept Europe. Once controversial and incendiary 50 years later Schoolgirl Report is incredibly tame by any standard. That half of the interviews were faked only adds to the exploitation authenticity. Unbelievably well over 6 million people went to see Schoolgirl Report im kino. Schoolgirl Report caused a stir in the old Bundesrepublik and made Hartwig a millionaire.

There are no big stars in the first Schoolgirl Report. Only Jutta Speidel could be nominally considered the name-star as she was a regular in Germany comedy. It wouldn’t be until the sequels before domestic – and international starlets as Claudia Fielers, Christina Lindberg, Ingrid Steeger, Shirley Corrigan, Katja Bienert, Uschi Karnat, and Karine Gambier made their debut in the series. As these things tend to go there were regulars among the schulmädchen with the likes of Karin Götz, Ulrike Butz, Puppa Armbruster, and Christine Szenetra returning for many later episodes. The first few Schoolgirl Report movies also tried to maintain a veneer of respectability and hid behind pseudo-science to validate their existence. Later installments became increasingly wild and concerned themselves less with a semi-realistic depiction of youth sexuality.

If anything the Schoolgirl Report series was a spiritual precursor to the Girls Gone Wild brand (1997-2013) and roughly had the same objective. That’s to say, exposing nubile young women in flagrante delicto and preferably with not much in the way of clothes. In its native Germany (well, West Germany, to be exact) Schoolgirl Report was a box office smash that ended up inspiring not only 12 official sequels (lasting all the way through the seventies into the eighties) but also spawned a legion of domestic imitations as Wedding Night Report (1972) (with Christina von Blanc), Early Awakening Report (1973) and Keyhole Report (1973). Even infamous and prolific Spanish sleaze merchant Jess Franco didn’t shy away from getting in on the action with his Virgin Report (1972) and the Erwin C. Dietrich co-directed Around the World in 80 Beds (1976). Not bad for a cheap sexploitation romp masquerading as a taboo-breaking and controversy courting “youth of today” exposé, itself a thinly-veiled excuse to show as much naked mädels as possible while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability.

In the ensuing decades since the moralizing, the prude mindset, and the surrounding hypocrisy concerning teenage sexuality haven’t changed in the slightest. In any medium of your choosing teenage – and adolescent girls remain a fixture for fetishization and sexualization. Schoolgirl Report was progressive for its time and it has all but admitted that the “documentary” framing device was merely there to avoid the kind of censorship that movies like this usually endured. Very much like Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1979) almost a decade later Schoolgirl Report posits that it does not condone the promiscuous excesses its hedonistic minxes engage in, yet in the same breath goes well out of its way to shoot every transgression in loving detail. Whether its same-sex couplings, polyamory, nude photography, father-daughter and/or brother-sister incest, prostitution (either voluntary or via coercion), rape, or teen pregnancy no topic was ever too controversial or taboo for the Schoolgirl Report franchise.

A recurring theme is that many of the mädels are attracted to much older men, often authority figures or clergy. Girls corrupting clergy was one of the standards of classic sexploitation. Here the girls in question just happened to be schulmädchen. It always were the mädels who were aggressively instigating the trysts and various sexual permutations. Each vignette serving as some kind of male wish fulfillment scenario or as a cautionary tale, if the Report had honorable intentions. In true seventies fashion the men typically were victims (self-agency apparently exclusively a female trait) or sacrificial lambs in many of the more tragic (and, sometimes, abusive) scenarios. The earlier episodes obviously were far more innocent than the later, much more outlandish sequels as the series desperately tried to remain relevant increasingly finding itself competing with the new sex cinemas. What remains a constant is that Wolf C. Hartwig never had any trouble finding ample of German mädchen willing to get naked for him. To think that Lindsay Lohan refused to get naked for her supposedly sleazy thriller I Know Who Killed Me (2007). The old adage never rung truer. They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Bavarian progressive death metal trio Odetosun have been one of our favourite constellations in the underground of recent years. The trio – Luke Stuchly (vocals), Benny Stuchly (guitars, bass guitar, keyboards) and Gunther Rehmer (drums) - formed as Oden’s Raven in 2008 as a typical melodic death metal band with Viking themes, not unlike early Amon Amarth and Unleashed and their ilk, before steering towards more adventurous realms. We extensively sang our praises for their 2013 debut “Gods Forgotten Orbit” on these pages, but never came around to properly covering their second opus “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” from 2015 the way it probably deserved and the way we probably should have. Now, four years removed from their second album, the Stuchly brothers are back with ‘Spiritual Decay’, the first in a series of thematically interconnected singles to be released seperately. Whether Odetosun has abandoned the album format as a whole is presently unclear, but it’s good to have the masters of the atmospheric and the meditative back all the same. So how does ‘Spiritual Decay’ fit in with Odetosun’s repertoire?

There has always been a profound Pink Floyd influence evident through out the music that Odetosun writes. Whether it’s the David Gilmour inspired manner that Benny solos or the resounding booming bass guitar and the serene keyboards that feature prominently in the trio’s compositions. The more progressive – and ambient aspects of both “The Division Bell” and “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” all can be heard in the two records preceding this single. Comparatively ‘Spiritual Decay’ is on the uptempo and upbeat side of things compared to what Odetosun usually does. However not soon after the opening section the single reverts back to the trio’s usually meditative midtempo and it sounds like nothing substantial has changed since Odetosun last released music. “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” was a nearly 50-minute conceptual exercise inspired by the 1972 Ben Bova novel “As On A Darkling Plain”. ‘Spiritual Decay’ was inspired the ubiquitous decline of civilization and spiritual achievements of human culture, and the first in a series of singles to be sporadically released until the trio’s third album materializes. As an isolated track ‘Spiritual Decay’ fits in seamlessly with what the trio has done before.

What has always separated Odetosun from more conventional bands is their staunch refusal to let themselves be dictated by their metallic components. Odetosun is far more dreamy and ethereal than, say, an Obscura or a Pavor. Like both those bands the bass guitar features prominently and their classification as death metal is secondary to their progressive - and post rock inclinations. Another great thing is that Odetosun never adheres to the typical metal imagery and visuals. Like Neurosis before them these three men are comfortable in their everyman and mountain man look. Stuchly’s signature melodies run rampant through out ‘Spiritual Decay’ and that it could have been culled from either “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” or “Gods Forgotten Orbit” speaks volumes of the creative alchemy that these three men have going on. There have been changes in the Odetosun camp. Their production value has steadily increased and their musicality and creativity is on an all-time high since the days of “Gods Forgotten Orbit”. If ‘Spiritual Decay’ is but a prelude to further new music we can only hope that Odetosun will continue to release new singles until their following album at long last arrives.

Suitably below the mainstream and somewhat of an underdog Odetosun is the ultimate musical pariah. They’re probably “too heavy” for the progressive rock crowd and, logically, too laidback and esoteric for the stereotypical death metal fan. Odetosun is guided only by their creativity and since their inception they haven’t paid much attention to what they classify as. Whether you want to classify them as a progressive rock band with death metal overtones, or as a death metal band with progressive inclinations – the long and short of it is that Odetosun is one of the better independent metal bands currently working the German underground. “Gods Forgotten Orbit” sounded very oceanic, breezy, and exotic, “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” gravitated towards a more spacey, airy and celestial direction. ‘Spiritual Decay’ combines the two in something that can only be described as meditative and, well, spiritual. If Nümph or Caelestis played death metal, they would probably sound something like this. As it stands Odetosun remains criminally underappreciated in their own genre. If ‘Spiritual Decay’ can turn a few more people towards their music, then it served its purpose.