Release Date(s)1987 (October 7, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
Like most American movie buffs, my initial exposure to Nekromantik came in the pages of Film Threat magazine. My first reaction was, “That’s not a real movie.” This wasn’t a snarky comment on its validity as a low-budget Super 8 feature. I literally didn’t believe it existed. Why would someone bother making a movie about necrophilia? Today, of course, with our human centipedes and Serbian films, a movie that’s merely about necrophilia seems almost quaint.
Daktari Lorenz stars as Rob, a new hire at Joe’s Streetcleaning Agency, a company that specializes in cleaning up accident sites and crime scenes. He doesn’t get along with his coworkers, possibly because he keeps pocketing bits of corpses and taking them home to his girlfriend Betty (Beatrice M.). One day he hits the mother lode and seizes the opportunity to bring home an entire corpse. Life is good for Rob and Betty until he gets fired and Betty, realizing that she’ll have to look elsewhere to satisfy her fetish, dumps him, taking their unwitting sex partner with her.
Needless to say, there isn’t a whole lot to Nekromantik. It works best as a crude dark comedy with some moments that are so over the top, I did laugh out loud. The effects are gruesome and effective, although I wouldn’t exactly call them realistic. But director Jörg Buttgereit is better at staging individual moments of outrageous perversion than he is at building suspense or constructing a narrative. Whenever the movie veers away from Rob and Betty, which is surprisingly often for a 75 minute film, Nekromantik becomes almost unbearably tedious. Whether it’s a lengthy build-up of a guy picking apples (and wearing a Gumby handkerchief for some reason) or Rob attempting to forget his troubles by going to see a slasher movie that looks even worse than the one he’s in, Buttgereit runs into trouble. It’s in moments like these that you can be forgiven for snarkily thinking maybe this isn’t a real movie after all.
Cult Epics’ limited edition Blu-ray release of Nekromantik is fairly impressive, all things considered. The disc includes two different transfers: a new HD transfer from the original Super 8mm negative and what’s billed as the “Grindhouse” version taken from the only 35mm print of the film. The Grindhouse version, which includes an introduction by the director, comes with lots of print damage, audio pops and all the wear and tear you’d expect. It’s for people who complained that the 4K restoration of Texas Chain Saw Massacre looked too good. The Super 8 version isn’t particularly stunning, nor did I expect it to be. It’s adequate but this was never going to be a reference quality disc (although if you were hoping to use a necrophilia movie to demonstrate your home theatre to your friends, I really have to wonder about you).
The disc includes quite a few good extras, starting with an audio commentary by Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen, which I believe is carried over from the previous DVD release. New to this release is a fun 40-minute Q&A session with the director from the 2013 Beyond Fest at L.A.’s American Cinematheque and the debut of Buttgereit’s earlier short film Hot Love with commentary by the director. The disc also includes two featurettes on the making of Nekromantik, a 3-minute featurette on Hot Love, an extensive still gallery, and trailers for five Buttgereit films including Nekromantik 2 and Schramm. The bonus features also include the original soundtrack, although only as a playable bonus on the Blu-ray and not as a separate CD as you might expect.
Give Jörg Buttgereit this much credit: Nekromantik is no bait and switch. If you never, ever want to see a fairly explicit gross-out movie about necrophilia, it’s easy to avoid. If Buttgereit had spent as much time writing the script as he did building his fake corpse, Nekromantik might have been a little more than a cult curiosity.
- Adam Jahnke
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