Nekromantik (1987) | DVD release

December 6th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Jorg Buttgereit   Writer: Franz Rodenkirchen

Cast: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt, Colloseo Schulzendorf

75min   German  Horror

The problem with Nekromantik, a cult horror flick from 1987 by German director Jörg Buttgereit, is that it neither looks appealing nor has any really engaging storyline. It is vile to watch rather than shocking: and to clarify – witnessing a fatal car crash is shocking whereas watching human entrails being loaded into black bin liners is just downright unpalatable: Nekromantik is the latter. To our 21st century gaze, the horror outing with its weird ‘om Pah pah’ score, is a tawdry and off-putting way of spending just over an hour, but some (particularly schlock horror fans) will find this exciting. With its tagline ‘Death is Just the Beginning”. Nekromantik was considered one of the most controversial films ever made and was banned in many countries, and still is in Singapore, Iceland, Norway and Malaysia. The film was unailable on DVD in the  UK. Until indie distributors Arrow Films has decided to re-release the uncut version in November.

In terms of genre Nekromantik is a mix of schlock, exploitation and softcore pornography, serving both as a macabre study in necrophilia and an attack, back in 1987, on German middle class prudishness. When one considers the outlandishly foxy, sensual films of the Weimar years 60 years earlier, this attack seems rather misguided and somewhat innaccurate.

Essentially a two-hander, the film centres on Rob, (Bernd Daktari), who is depicted as a member of the German ‘working-class’. As a public sector worker, his day is filled with routine tasks such clearing up human roadkill for the council. In a mad moment, he decides to bring one such corpse home for a threesome with his wife Betty (Beatrice Manowski), who rather enjoys the attentions of the rotting cadaver that Rob fixes up with a steel phallus, to add spice to her enjoyment (is poorly endowed?- we never find out) . Strangely, Betty enjoys the dead body rather than that of her husband, signalling the end of their romance. In a fit of pique, Rob kills the cat and takes a bath under its bleeding body…

The exterior of their grimy apartment block is contrasted with the ludicrous scenes taking place behind its walls, recalling the German word often applied to horror outings ‘unheimlich’. The direct translation of this is ‘unhomely’ but it actually means “uncanny’ appropriately here. And she argues that this is an evocation of the ‘uncanny’ in Freudian terms: Rob owns a miniature version of The Glass Man. Created in 1930 by Franz Tschackert, it was a life-size model of a male figure with transparent skin. Several shots of specimens of internal organs in jars, add a further horrific twist to their activities.

Quite why anyone would want to kiss a putryfying corpse is beyond mainstream comprehension: apart from being akin to licking a festering pork chop and contracting campobylactor or even paralytic worms, it’s neither artistic nor a turn-on for most people but this is nevertheless is the general thrust of Nekromantik‘s rather slim narrative, which, in common with its cadaver, doesn’t have much flesh on its bones. It takes all sorts. MT

NEKROMANTIK is available on Blu-ray & DVD from 15 December 2014, a perfect stocking-filler.


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