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Nekromantik (1988)

Cult Epics
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/7/2014

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/3/2014

People often confuse terms like "famous", "infamous", and "notorious", and what those words imply in terms of quality. When Nekromantik was released in 1988, it slowly began to garner a reputation amongst horror fans. Due to its low-budget roots and it's controversial premise, the movie received a very limited release and it was difficult to find -- The movie wasn't officially released in the United States for years. Because of this, it became a challenge for fans of extreme movies to get a hold of the movie, but that didn't stop them from trying. But, what spurred this search? Was it because they were hoping to see a good movie, or was it because the movie was "infamous" and "notorious"? Was their efforts worth it? Now that Nekromantik is available on Blu-ray Disc from Cult Epics, let's see if the movie's legendary status is valid.

Nekromantik introduces us to Robert (Daktari Lorenz), a man who works for a company which cleans us deadly accidents. Robert lives with Betty (Beatrice M.), a morbid woman who likes it when her beau smuggles body parts away from work. One day, Robert surprises Betty by brining home an entire corpse. This excites her so that they take the body to bed with them. While Robert has been able to please Betty, he isn't very popular at work. When his job is suddenly in jeopardy, he finds his relationship on the rocks as well.

I have always been a movie fanatic, and back before the Internet existed (Can you remember such a time?), I would devour books and magazines about movies. I would read the descriptions of wild horror movies and when I finally saw them, 9-times-out-of-10 the movie which I had imagined was much better and more outrageous than the actual film. Maybe I was jaded from a young age, but movies which were supposed to be shocking and mind-blowing were usually boring and slow. Reading the description of Nekromantik, it sounds as if it is going to be the most revolting and depraved movie ever made.

It's not. Don't get me wrong, this is no Nickelodeon movie, and it clearly contains some very dark and disturbing ideas, but it simply doesn't play out as one would expect. First things first, the act which made the movie infamous is never really shown here. Co-Writer/Director Jorg Buttgereit has chosen to shoot this scene in a psychedelic way in which every movement by the actors leaves "trails". In other words, we really don't see anything and it's up to the viewer's imagination to spell out what is happening. Also, and maybe this is just me, the corpse is much more decayed than I ever expected -- to the point that what Robert and Betty are doing almost doesn't make sense. Actually, it's the finale where the film really rolls out its grossest idea, but this is ruined by a ridiculous prop.

The shocking truth about Nekromantik is that it's a movie which coasts on its ideas rather than what is actually shown on-screen. It's clear that Buttgereit and company had very little money and my guess is that most of the budget went into the special effects. In essence, this is a glorified student film which has garnered an international reputation based on its premise alone. At only 75-minutes, Nekromantik feels like an extended student film and only a fraction of the movie actually deals with narrative. Instead, we get footage of a rabbit being skinned (which, for me, was far more disturbing than anything else in the movie...which was probably Buttgereit's point), a long sequence where Robert goes to the movies to see a film which actually looks more entertaining than the one we are watching, and a fantasy sequence in which Robert is running through a meadow. In addition to the rabbit footage, there is a scene with a cat which didn't go over well with me either. It's pretty clear that Buttgereit didn't have a clear goal with the film, other than to be controversial.

If you're a fan of underground cinema or movies that "they" didn't want you to see, Nekromantik is a touchstone film. All others will be so repulsed by the idea that they can't focus or truly bored by the fact that the film is wildly unfocused. I'm sure that there are those who feel that Nekromantik is an important movie, as it was out there breaking taboos and creating a milestone in savage cinema. But, the truth of the matter is that it simply isn't a good movie. Buttgereit did make some improvements with Nekromantik II, but that's another story.

Nekromantik may be the ultimate "not on Date Night" movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Cult Epics. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 framing and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. Keeping in mind that this is a micro-budgeted film which was shot on 8mm nearly 30 years ago, I can assume that the good folks at Cult Epics did what they could with this transfer, but it still has many issues. The picture is grainy and riddled with defects from the source materials, such as lines, dots, and scratches. The colors are OK, but look a little washed out in some shots. The HD transfer does reveal some focus issues. The Disc carries a Dolby Digital 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 192 kbps. For the most part, the track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. However, the sound is notably tinny and sounds hollow at times. There is no notable hissing or popping here. The infamous music by John Boy Walton (?!) sounds fine. 

The Nekromantik Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Jorg Buttgereit and Franz Rodenkirchen. "Grindhouse 35mm HD Version" is the 8mm film blown up to 35mm. It's the same movie, only it's much darker in places, but it still looks pretty beat up. This is accompanied by a brief introduction by Buttgereit. "Q&A with Jorg Buttgereit" (40 minutes) was shot at Beyond Fest in 2013, and shows the director taking questions about his work. "The Making of Nekromantik" (12 minutes) is comprised on on-set footage and stills and is accompanied by narration and audio interviews. "Nekromantik Featurette" (9 minutes) offers interviews with those involved in the making of the film and gives us a timeline of how it came together. "Hot Love" is a 29-minute short film which Buttgereit made before Nekromantik. It can be viewed with COMMENTARY from the director. "Hot Love Featurette" (3 minutes) takes us to a screening of the film. The Disc contains a TRAILER for Nekromantik, as well as four other films by Buttgereit. The extras are rounded out by a "Still Photo Gallery" and an Isolated Soundtrack.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long