German horror veteran Marian Dora knows the value of hard labor, as careers in film are both, rare to come across and hard to deliver within. He knows that every job requires substantial time and effort. Multiple predicaments may arise, creating hostile working conditions. The important thing, he says, is to remain focused on the task at hand and persevere. I spoke to him about his writing career and film work.
Fascinated by film as a child, it comes as no surprise that the screenwriter and director ended up with a video camera in hand by age 23. During his earliest years, Dora met many prolific European actors including: Helmut Berger, Herbert Fux, Ruggero Deodato, and Udo Kier. Contact with such well-known men in film did not come easy. He tells me that his journey has been a long, stressful one.
“For budget reasons, but also to create my own visions, I did everything in my own films,” Dora said. “I did the writing, directing, camera work, editing, scoring, and so on. It is always easier to make films with good technicians or a good cinematographer, but much more difficult if you are on your own.” He added that aspiring film producers and screenwriters only need an ambition and the cheapest camera they can find to jump start their careers.
Despite unwavering determination, Dora’s work has not gained a large viewership. With elements ranging from animal cruelty to graphic murder, Dora’s films are not for the faint of heart.
“Cannibal,” released in 2006 and made for the American market, is one such film. The plot centers around a man browsing the internet in hopes of fulfilling his darkest desire: cannibalism. After turning down numerous candidates, the main character selects a suicidal man. The two bond and engage in sex after meeting. When it comes time to do the deed, trouble arises and leads to a rather heated argument, resulting in the potential victim wanting to leave.
Convinced to give the scenario a second chance, he chooses to stay. Castration via kitchen knife then leads to a horrific dismemberment and devouring. Based on a brutal incident that occurred on March 9, 2001, in Rottenburg, Germany, “Cannibal” was originally a film German director Ulli Lommel intended to make for Lion’s Gate. Dora served as the second unit director and was responsible for the more edgy scenes. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as expected.
“After watching “Cannibal,” Lommel said he couldn’t handle the film,” he said.”He said it made him sick. He filmed his own version and I had to distribute the film myself.”
The mishap with “Cannibal” was but a fork in the road for Dora. In 2009, he released “Melancholie der Engel.” a violent tale of friendship, revenge, and death wish, the story focuses on two men full of contempt for humanity.
One discovers his end is nearing, prompting the other to take him on a barbaric spiritual voyage to ensure his life finishes with meaning. Featuring vivid depictions of rape, actual excrement, disembowelment, and illicit drug use, “Melancholie der Engel” was an extremely nerve wracking project for all involved.
“The shooting of ‘Melancholie der Engel’ was very, very difficult for everyone. It culminated into an orgy of hate, deprivation, depression, madness, and shit. During the three weeks of shooting, I lost 35 pounds,” Dora said.
In addition to making it through the disgusting situations of their respective roles called for, the cast was not allowed to view the script. Dora was the only one with access to it. An unorthodox practice, he used this to maximize authenticity. The goal was to have them embody their emotions honestly.
“It is all about the manipulation of the performers to make them do whatever is necessary for the scene. I tried to bring the performers in the adequate situation and filmed it.”
Going all out for his films, Dora has done things that could land him in hot water with the law, including entering a church without permission. Such antics have forced him to protect his identity. His face is blurred out in video interviews and the only way fans can interact with him is through film festival appearances. A small circle of them are lucky enough to be in possession of his e-mail address.
What magnifies his elusive aura is his name. “Marian Dora” is in fact an anagram of his real name. Furthermore, he has several additional pseudonyms. With critics disapproving of his films to the point of desiring to harm him, Dora’s own safety is a primary concern.
“I’m not very much into the internet so I don’t know many rumors concerning myself but I heard there is someone hating my films so much that he wants to kill me. I have to accept that.”
Ridiculed for supposed religious mockery, Dora shatters rumors that he is intentionally blasphemous through his admitted fondness of Catholicism’s rituals. He credits places like Notre Dame and Hindu temples as one of the main reasons he travels the world. This, however, does not mean he does not see a problem with religion.
“For me, the main problem with religion is its anthropocentric sight so maybe Buddhism would fit my philosophy more than Christian theology,” Dora said.
Religious fanatics are not the only ones who’ve had a defensive stance against Dora’s work. Carsten Frank, a leading actor in three of Dora’s films, ceased partnership after “Melancholie der Engel” was completed. Fear of criminal charges was the driving force behind the decision.
“He forced me to make many heavy edits and the scenes are lost now. His name is listed as “Frank Oliver” in the credits to show that he renounces the film. That was the end of our collaboration.”
Though haunted by the daily demands of his profession, Dora continues to push forward. Financial difficulties matter little to him. A budget of $4,000 is all he is currently working with to develop his next two titles. One will be a remake of Jean-Louis Costes’ French classic “I Love Snuff,” and the other will be about a man suffering from a malignant cancer.
Nevelious L. Jordan IV is a contributing writer for Wrightspeak.