Nekromantik II: Return of the Loving Dead Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Arrow Video
Directed by Jörg Buttgereit
Written by Jörg Buttgereit and Franz Rodenkirchen
1991, 102 minutes, Rated 18
Blu-ray released on 7th December 2015
Monika M. as Monika
Mark Reeder as Mark
Lena Braun as Porno-synch girl
Bernd Datkari Lorenz as Robert (archive footage)
Carola Ewers as Nekro gang member
Astrid Ewerts as Nekro gang member
Part charming romantic meet-cute, part repulsive body horror about a woman digging up her dead ex and continuing to copulate with his corpse long after decomposition has begun. Nekromantik II picks up where the first left off, as sobbing Rob sadly stabs himself to death, ejaculating everywhere as he goes. Clearly giving him a little time to rot first, Monika digs up her lover and brings him home. Let the fun and games commence. Ew.
Nekromantik II, then, the infamous sequel to Jörg Buttgereit's even more infamous gorno masterpiece. While the rule of diminishing returns makes this sequel feel slightly less shocking than its predecessor, it does have the dubious honour of being the first film to be seized and banned in Munich since Nazi Germany. And it's not hard to see why either – not for an instant does Buttgereit condemn Monika for her crimes, letting the audience make up its own mind and sympathise with her, even as she continues to use an indifferent but unconsenting dead body as her own personal pleasure puppet.
Even so, the sexual shenanigans housed here are more vanilla than they were in Nekromantik, making way for more story and character development. After the obligatory sex with a stiff, there's a jarring about turn into sweet romcom territory, as Monika meets Mark, unexpectedly falling for the guy after an impromptu cinema trip together. The following moments of familiar romantic cinema – eating ice creams together, riding a Ferris wheel, their first kiss – sitting uneasily next to Monika's fucking about with her other fella. Eventually she decides to cut off (and up) her ex, but how will she adjust to a lover with a pulse? And how will Mark react to the decomposing dick in her fridge? This is extreme German arthouse cinema, so it could go either way, really.
Compared to the previous movie, Nekromantik II is a much more confident, cinematic outing for the corpse sex series, comparable to the jump in quality between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. As mentioned before, it has a genuine story, more distinct character arcs and a sense of polish, both in its gore (the bathtub sequence is particularly grotesque) and fantasy elements. This results in an altogether more watchable film than Nekromantik, but, curiously one that seems less 'pure'. Talking about its seizing by the German authorities, Buttgereit suggested that it was only judicial deliberation that Nekromantik II is a work of 'art' (as opposed to entertainment) which saved it from being an actual crime. It's so well made that, unlike the first piece, it blurs the line between entertainment and art.
That said, there is some profoundly disturbing imagery here. After almost twenty years of watching horror movies without incident, Nekromantik II finally made me lose my breakfast (it was the dead seal porn sequence that did it) – no mean feat, given that I've seen Cannibal Holocaust and friends. Buttgereit manages to make something as simple as two naked people eating boiled eggs on a rooftop while discussing ornithology feel icky and troubling, and it's almost a relief when it gets back to Monika chopping up her dead ex with a hacksaw.
Nekromantik II is a different kind of beast from its predecessor. It may be better made and less 'authentic', but that beast is no less memorable for it. Not for the faint of heart, and one for an empty stomach.
Video and Audio:
The film comes crisp and clear to 1080p High Definition, as approved by Buttgereit himself. Standard DVD definition is also available. Let's be honest, the less you see, the better. It sounds wonderful in Original Stereo 2.0, Mark Reeder's contributions to the score (discussed at length in the special features) making this one of the best sounding horror films of all time.
As we've come to expect from the folks at Arrow, the release comes packed with exclusive documentaries and features to make your Nekromantik II experience last even longer. Masters of Life and Death is a brand new documentary, featuring interviews with the director, cast and producer, looking at the film's production and release history. City of the Loving Dead takes a wander around the filming locations in Berlin, while Necropolis discusses the capital's significance in relation to the film. There's also a vintage documentary, The Making of Nekromantik 2, an interview with Reeder about the soundtrack (highly recommended), a film of the score played live for its 20th anniversary (both recommended), short films (one about Hitler and one about Ed Gein), music videos, outtakes, trailers and image galleries. Buttgereit, co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen, Reeder and Monika M. all contribute to the audio commentary, Reeder never failing to distract with his English accent among all the Germans.