Nekromantik Blu-ray Review
Directed by Jörg Buttgereit
Written by Jörg Buttgereit and Franz Rodenkirchen
1988, Region A, 75 minutes, Not rated
Blu-ray released on October 7th, 2014
Daktari Lorenz as Robert Schmadtke
Beatrice M. As Betty
Harald Lundt as Bruno
Collosseo as Joe
Suza Kohlstedt as Vera
Heike S. as Prostitute
Patricia Leipold as Prostitute
Elke Fuchs as Prostitute
Margit Im Schlaa as Prostitute
Robert and Betty are a happy, young couple with a healthy relationship and a sex life that frequently extends beyond vanilla. He works as part of a clean-up crew that removes the remains of victims of car accidents and other death scenes, and she is a stay-at-home source of awesome. Robert has a passion for his work and goes so far as to claim souvenirs from the more memorable sites. I don't mean things like a piece of broken glass or jewelry; rather, he pockets body parts. Necrophiliacs can be pretty resourceful, and my man has hit the jackpot with this line of employment. What does Betty think of all of this? Like any good girlfriend, she appreciates the token eyeball or the occasional set of entrails, but when Robert rescues a full corpse from the swamp, that's when things get really exciting.
Not everything is perfect for this loving couple however, as these necrophiles are so wrapped up in their sexcapades that Robert's work suffers for it. His boss, Joe, is not too pleased with the recent reports of sloppy job performance and fires our hero. Betty is quickly aware that she is dating an unemployed loser, and since she is having better sex with a corpse anyway, decides to take off with the cadaver. Robert does not react well to his new solo act, and begins acting out in an even more bizarre manner as he is pushed to his mental and emotional limits.
Nekromantik announced the arrival of a talented young filmmaker named Jörg Buttgereit (Schramm), a man almost singlehandedly responsible for bringing the German Exploitation cinema movement to international attention. Banned in Germany and heavily censored in Japan, his film quickly rose in the ranks of must-see entertainment for gorehounds in the early 1990s. The bizarre title and lurid poster art promised something shocking and delivered in spades. While not the most evenly paced film, I can easily say it's my favorite necrophilia flick of 1988!
Buttgereit co-wrote the film with Franz Rodenkirchen, and together they tapped into an unsettling tale that spins a traditional love story into unexpectedly dark territory. Limiting the number of locations and cast members, and even dismissing many names in the opening credits as “...etc.”, the director focused his energy on designing and constructing the impressive special effects that would serve as the centerpiece of his film. While certain aspects of the production are lacking - some of the supporting cast are truly terrible actors - Buttgereit nails it in the delivery of the corpse. As outlandish as the script gets at times, the audience is never pulled out of the moment due to shoddy effects work; indeed, there are some impressive set-pieces here.
Cult Epics brings the film to Blu-ray in a limited run of 10,000 copies. Hopefully this will prove successful and fans will be treated to an HD release of the even more outrageous sequel: Nekromantik 2: The Return of the Loving Dead and the amazing documentary Corpse Fucking Art that takes a serious look at the work of this talented filmmaker. While some contemporary viewers will balk at the pacing and squeamish audiences will dismiss the movie as trash, fans of uncompromising artistry will be pleased to finally get another chance at discovering this notorious nugget of cinematic necrophilia.
Video and Audio:
Nekromantik is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and has never looked better, and that's a problem for our director, who has opted to include a dirtier mix. The film was shot on Super 8 film and later blown up to 35mm for theatrical screenings. This release offers an HD transfer of the original negative as well as a grittier “Grindhouse” transfer of the 35mm print. Whether you prefer the extra scratches and dirt in your viewing experience of this film of not, both are totally serviceably options. Neither looks “too good”, so fans have nothing to worry about, but it is nice to have the choice.
There are two audio options, the original 2-channel Dolby Digital stereo presentation or a newly expanded 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix that opens up the soundtrack a bit. Either is welcome, but the more traditional stereo is the way to go.
Nekromantik is a German language film and English subtitles are provided.
Cult Epics has pulled out all of the stops and provided an unexpectedly generous assortment of special features, many returning from the long-out-of-print DVD special edition.
Starting things off is an introduction from the director, recorded before a screening at the American Cinematheque in 2013. The feature is followed by a Q & A session (40 minutes) in which Buttgereit answers audience questions and is frequently surprised by the longevity of interest in his film.
The audio commentary pairs the director with his writing partner and together they reflect on the challenges of making a low-budget feature. The track is a little uneven and dips into an occasional awkward silence as the participants watch the movie, but their enthusiasm in sharing their stories is quite infectious. Buttgereit is quick to point out the flaws in his lighting, resulting in some images being too dark, starting with the opening shot of a lady urinating on a dead pigeon.
The Making of Nekromantik (12 minutes) offers interviews with cast and crew while presenting production stills intercut with behind-the-scenes footage taken on set. This piece is paired with a new(er) segment titled Nekromantik featurette, with the director discussing the filmmaking process.
A Buttgereit trailer gallery offers a look at the marketing campaigns for Nekromantik, Nekromantik 2, Schramm, Der Todesking and Hot Love.
Speaking of Hot Love (1985), the director's debut short film (29 minutes) makes its HD debut here with an audio commentary and a brief featurette (3 minutes) for completists.
The original soundtrack rounds out the special features on this disc.