Digital Dismemberment: Nekromantik Special Edition Blu-Ray Review
Director: Jorg Buttgereit
Producer: Manfred O. Jelinski
Special Effects: Jorg Buttgereit, M. Roden Kirchen, Bernd Daktari Lorenz and Franz Rodenkirchen
Cast: Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, Colloseo Schulzendorf, Henri Boeck, Clemens Schwender, Jorg Buttgereit, Holger Suhr, Volker Hauptvogel, Harald Weis, Heike Surban, Suza Kohlstedt
Released By: Cult Epics
Release Date: 10/07/2014
The controversial horror film that shocked the world in 1987, when it was banned in Germany, censored in Japan and simultaneously became a huge underground hit in the US (now long out of print.) Nekromantik tells the story of Rob, who works at a street-cleaning Agency and visits roadside accidents to clean up the scene. Incidentally, Rob collects the body parts and shares them with his girlfriend Beatrice. When Rob presents a complete corpse taken out of a swamp, their undying love reaches its peak. But soon after, Betty gets more of a liking towards the corpse and leaves Rob, which takes him to the sick end of his destruction.
With the amount of graphic gore and violence, not withstanding the tremendously offensive and gross subject matter, Buttgereit’s film manages to shock and awe you at the same time.
Looking at it strictly from a technical standpoint, the film is certainly something to marvel at. Shot on an extremely low budget and with friends, the film almost has a home movie feel about it. Buttgereit handles the majority of the tasks himself, from the writing, directing, acting, editing, casting, set design, camera work and special FX. From a societal standpoint, the film touches upon several topics, including the German working class, depression, the desensitization of violence in film and television, sexual dysfunction and fetish.
The odd thing about this film is how you start to empathize with the character of Rob — not from the standpoint of agreeing with what he does, but how his upbringing and emotional collapse pull you in. Not being able to have a relationship with anyone living and having his only “toy” being taken away by the woman that he loves, he basically collapses upon himself in the most masochistic of ways. His losses are so soul crushing that he becomes one of the dead at his own hands, with the film implying that his corpse is now to become the whim of someone else.
The film opens on a couple driving down the road and becoming involved in an accident that kills both passengers. The next day, we see the car at the accident scene, replete with the driver dead behind the wheel and the passenger torn in half outside of the car. A street cleaning team shows up, and that is where we meet Rob. His co-workers do not seem to like him, and we can see his job hangs by a thread. The flat that he shares with his girlfriend Betty has jars of pickled body parts that adorn the shelves, pictures of famous murders hang from the walls alongside of centerfolds of models. Rob continuously brings home new parts to add to their collection, all to her approval.
While Betty bathes in the bathtub of bloody water, Rob watches TV and has odd flashbacks to his childhood, including the skinning of a rabbit and a dreamlike scene of him conducting an autopsy on a corpse. There almost seems to be a dulling apathy in their relationship until Rob brings home a corpse that he finds on the job in a swamp. (The corpse belongs to a man that is accidentally killed when a neighbor is careless with an air rifle and shoots him off of a ladder. The man later disposes of the body in the swamp, presumably never to be seen again.) He brings the corpse home and presents it to her as a gift. There is a certain gleam in their eyes as they explore the corpse that degenerates into debauchery in its most primal form: sex.
You can see the obvious lust in their eyes as the modify the corpse for her use (sawing a piece of pipe for a phallus and placing a condom on it so that she can have sex with it). Rob at first watches and then joins in as everything breaks down into a threesome. The general attitude of the couple seems to improve, and in a scene as ghastly as the menage a trois, they sit down to a meal that may or may not be comprised of a body part in the refrigerator, all while the corpse hangs from the wall and oozes various fluids of decomposition into bowls placed all around it.
Things appear to be in a state of bliss, but while Rob is still at work, Betty continues to have her way with the corpse, reading love stories and talking to it. Things continue along as she verbally and physically woos the corpse and has sex with it again. Viewing this from an outside perspective lets you see this as an almost adulterous affair behind Rob’s back (granted, HE was the one that brought it home for THEIR enjoyment together, but Betty continues the amorous “affair” behind his back), and when he is fired from his job (for keeping dirty uniforms in his locker and being late for work), Betty emasculates him for not standing up for himself and leaves him, taking the corpse with her.
Rob begins to break down mentally (even further than he all ready is). He kills their cat and guts it, rubbing it blood and innards all over himself while in the bath tub. He tries to make the best of his situation and goes to see a movie but is bullied by another patron and leaves. He goes home and in desperation, tries to kill himself with booze and pills. He falls asleep instead and has weird dreams of himself as a corpse in a trash bag, followed by a young woman giving him a severed head (they dance and frolic in the park, tossing the head and entrails back and forth amongst themselves in joy).