Cult Epics gives cult and extreme horror fans the return of the loving dead, with definitive Blu-ray releases of NEKROMANTIK and NEKROMANTIK 2.
While doing some research before watching NEKROMANTIK, I stumbled upon an article whose author stated that watching NEKROMANTIK was like watching a Throbbing Gristle music video. The author, whose name I can’t recall or I’d link to his article, was on the nose with his assessment. But it’s not just the imagery of Throbbing Gristle’s videos; their music is a perfect soundtrack to the two NEKROMANTIK movies.
As I write up the review of Cult Epics’ bundled Blu-ray release of NEKROMANTIK and NEKROMANTIK 2, Throbbing Gristle’s “The Taste of TG (A Beginner’s Guide To The Music Of Throbbing Gristle)” plays in the background, a perfect music accompaniment to keep me in the right head space to write about these movies.
THE MOVIES (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Watching both movies back-to-back, I realized they are a perfect pairing of storytelling. They tell, essentially, the same story, but from different angles with incredibly different outcomes. Both movies are tales of romance, with a horror element thrown in.
In NEKROMANTIK, a street-cleaner named Rob (Daktari Lorenz) is in a relationship with Betty (Beatrice M.). Rob’s job sends him, at times, to pick up dead bodies from severe auto accidents. This gives Rob the opportunity to sneak a body part, an eye, for example, home with him. Rob and Betty keep their collection of body parts in jars at home and will bathe with the dead’s blood or play with their collection.
Eventually, Rob is able to snare a full corpse that had been taken out of a swamp. Bringing it home, Rob and Betty have a threesome with the newly obtained body. Instead of bringing them together, Betty takes her new lover and leaves Rob. Broken by Betty’s betrayal, Rob takes his morbid love of corpse sex to the next logical conclusion for him, a slow suicide to achieve orgasm.
For Rob, the only possible end for him in his loneliness was to achieve the ultimate sexual satisfaction from the freshest dead body available — himself.
NEKROMANTIK 2 is another tragic romantic tale, but its characters operate in a slightly different setup.
Monika (Monika M.), unlike Rob, is already a necrophiliac when the movie starts. NEKROMANTIK 2 starts where the first ends, with Monika digging up Rob’s body for sexy time at her apartment. But Monika’s idealist life with Rob’s corpse is interrupted by a fateful meeting with a very alive Mark (Mark Reeder).
Unexpectedly for Monika, she falls for Mark, who works in adult films overdubbing dialogue. Monika struggles to find happiness in the mundane world of dating — trips to a zoo, holding hands, preparing dinner for her boyfriend, etc. She is committed to living a “normal” life, going so far as to dismember Rob and rid herself of his corpse; except for his head and penis. Try as she might, Monika is drawn back to her fetish, one she hasn’t shared with Mark.
Monika slowly introduces Mark to her desires, not by revealing anything she had done in the past but by having him pose for pictures for her. Pictures that put Mark in positions where Monika can imagine he’s a corpse. Unlike Rob, who ultimately loved himself, Monika’s return to necrophilia is centered around the man she loves. In what must be her ultimate show of love to Mark, she beheads him during sex and places Rob’s decaying head where Mark’s used to be, coming to an orgasm as Mark’s body spasms under her.
Watched together, the NEKROMANTIK movies explore damaged relationships from different viewpoints.
Rob and Betty are never truly happy together, and Rob doesn’t realize what a damaged relationship he has or what a damaged person he is until Betty leaves with the corpse. Monika is damaged by her attempts to hide the person she is from the person she loves, but her realization brings her to an act that brings her and Mark closer.
Neither movie is great by the traditional sense. The first is too short and has gaps of logic and storytelling; the second is far too long with some of the same issues of storytelling that the first has. The movies didn’t have a traditional script, and admittedly, much of the dialogue is ad-libbed by the actors, which adds to the bizarreness of the tales.
Obviously the NEKROMANTIK movies are not made with general movie audiences in mind.
For extreme horror and cult movie fans, the NEKROMANTIK movies are as beloved as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and FACES OF DEATH. Judging these movies based on their target audience, they both pull off interesting and horrific movies. The first is a bit more amateurish than its sequel, but both movies have a arthouse aesthetic to them.
As a first-time viewer of these movies, after hearing about them for years, I’m wholeheartedly a fan of NEKROMANTIK and director Jorg Buttgereit. Now someone give him some money to make NEKROMANTIK 3!
Each Blu-ray is packed with special features and gives fans of the NEKROMANTIK series all the details they could want about the making and distribution of the movies.
There are three standout features on this disc. The commentary track with writer/director Jorg Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen is a phenomenal commentary to the movie. Jorg and Franz go deep into the production of the movie and special effects. Buttgereit also gives a tip on obtaining animal innards for horror movies — pretend you’re a medical student looking for animal parts to practice on.
Both are very self-aware about the issues with the movie, and some of the problems attaining a final product matching their vision with a nearly non-existent budget. During the commentary, Buttgereit and Rodenkirchen fill in some of the gaps in the storytelling, like why a scene of a rabbit being skinned is included and the purpose of a dream sequence near the end of the movie.
The disc also includes a Grindhouse HD version taken from the theatrical 35mm print, along with an introduction to this version by Buttgereit. The introduction was filmed at a festival screening in 2013, and Buttgereit states he prefers this version of the film because it has all the scratches and hisses that give it that grindhouse authenticity.
Buttgereit also jokes that Tarantino and Rodriguez spent millions to fake scratches on their film, while he essentially paid nothing for the same effect when transferring from Super 8 to 35mm film. After watching both versions, I agree with Buttgereit that the preferred way to view NEKROMANTIK is the Grindhouse version.
A bonus short film made by Buttgereit, HOT LOVE (1985), is included and is shown in HD. The movie can be seen as a precursor to NEKROMANTIK as it covers some of the same themes but adds a supernatural element to the story of jilted love. Fans should make a point to watch this short film and check out the commentary track for HOT LOVE done by Buttgereit.
The features list the soundtrack, but there is not a separate CD of the movie’s score. The music plays as a bonus feature on the disc with a static image displayed on the television.
The commentary track for NEKROMANTIK 2 has Buttgereit and Rodenkirchen returning to discuss the sequel and adds the lead actors Monika M. and Mark Reeder. The commentary for the sequel is less about the technical details of making the movie, and more about the overall experience. The commentary track is also hilarious for much of the running time.
Rodenkirchen doesn’t have as much input on this track as he did on NEKROMANTIK, and this commentary is dominated by Buttgereit and the two leads. They talk about how they feel during certain scenes, the issues of doing nudity on film, how Buttgereit had to leave the room during the porno dub scenes because Reeder’s improvising was making him laugh too much. It’s rare to have such an entertaining commentary track that is informative and has little to no downtime in conversation during the movie’s running time.
I found it interesting that NEKROMANTIK 2 was screened with a live score accompaniment. Highlights of this performance are shown in the feature “20th Anniversary Live Concert.” I cannot recall another cult/grindhouse film being given this kind of live screening treatment. I’m used to seeing movies like STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, or Looney Tunes cartoons getting the live score treatment. The feature only runs about 12 minutes, but it left me wanting to see the entire performance.
The short film, A MOMENT OF SILENCE AT THE GRAVE OF ED GEIN is what the title states — a camera pointed at the unmarked grave site of Ed Gein for a couple of minutes with no accompanying music or sounds, aside from the natural sounds of a cemetery set amidst a wooded area.
As with the disc for NEKROMANTIK, the soundtrack feature is not a separate CD of music. The soundtrack is a bonus feature that plays with a static image displayed on the screen.
NEKROMANTIK and NEKROMANTIK 2 are works of art on film that have no right existing in a HD home video release. Yet they do, and we have Cult Epics to thank for bringing these cult classics to the fans in the best possible versions available.
If you’re a fan of the weird, the obscure, the fantastical, and the repulsive, then NEKROMANTIK and its sequel need to be a part of your Blu-ray collection.
THE SPECIAL FEATURES
- New Director’s Approved HD Transfer (taken from the original Super 8mm negative)
- New Grindhouse HD Version (taken from the Theatrical 35mm print)
- Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit (2013)
- Q&A with Jorg Buttgereit at the American Cinematheque (2013)
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen
- The Making of NEKROMATIK
- NEKROMATIK Featurette
- Still Photo Gallery
- JB Trailers
- Never Before Releases Short Film HOT LOVE (1985) In HD
- HOT LOVE Audio Commentary & Featurette
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
- New Director’s Approved HD Transfer (taken from the original 16mm negative)
- New Introduction by Jorg Buttgereit (2014)
- Audio Commentary by Jorg Buttgereit, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and actors Monika M. and Mark Reeder
- The Making of Nekromantik 2
- JB Trailers
- 20th Anniversary Live Concert Performed by Monika M. and Friends – Video (2011)
- A Moment of Silence At The Grave of Ed Gein, Short Film by Jorg Buttgereit (2012)
- Half Girl – “Lemmy, I’m A Feminist” music video by Jorg Buttgereit (2014)
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Live – 2011)
- Limited Edition Blu-ray bundle with new slipcover art by Martin Trafford (limited to 500) — will be out of print by end of 2019
Film 1 Review
Disc 1 Review
Film 2 Review
Disc 2 Review