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Movies Mike Bracken Review by
Mike Bracken
Nekromantik
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NEKROMANTIK - 1987
Jörg Buttgereit
Rating: Australia: R / Finland, Norway, Singapore: Banned / USA: Unrated

Much has been written about Jorg Buttgereit's (SCHRAMM, NEKROMANTIK 2, DER TODESKING) 1987 ode to necrophilia, NEKROMANTIK (which the director lovingly refers to as "corpse fucking art"), it's one of those films that polarizes viewers - you either love it or hate it. Personally, I'd sum it up like this: If Albert Camus and the Marquis de Sade made a bad student film, the result would probably look something like NEKROMANTIK. The film's one part gruesome sexual perversion (which is its strong point) and three parts pretentious existential angst (which kills it deader than the corpses Rob and Betty are so enamored with).

The film tells the story of Rob (Daktari Lorenz: DER TODESKING, NEKROMANTIK 2), a nerdy guy who works for a company named Joe's Streetcleaning. Joe's company doesn't clean trash off the streets as the title would suggest, but instead is responsible for removing corpses from the scenes of accidents. This is a perfect job for Rob, because both he and girlfriend Betty (Beatrice M.: DER TRIP) are turned on by death and body parts (witnessed by the large collection of body parts stored in formaldehyde throughout their apartment). Eventually, Rob brings home a badly decomposed corpse from a crime scene, and you can probably guess what happens next . . . Menage a trois time! Betty sticks some kind of pipe-like object into the decomposing corpse's groin, places a condom on it (you've gotta practice safe sex . . . .afterall, who knows where this corpse has been?) and the three go to town.

After that, Rob is fired from his job, which causes Betty to leave him . . . taking the corpse with her (I'm not sure what the community property laws are like in Germany, but apparently the woman gets to keep the corpse). This sends Rob over the edge, turning him into a murderer. I'd regale you with the rest of the plot, but it really bogs down from here until the very end, where it sort of gets interesting again.

It's hard to believe that someone could make a boring necrophilia flick, but for the most part, that's exactly what Buttgereit's done. Shot on 8mm film, the whole movie has that low-budget student film look. Factor in that there's hardly any dialogue in the film, and several "arty" type scenes that really make no sense, and you'll discover the real reason this film is so hard to sit through - it's pretentious and uninteresting. The film only works when something gory is happening onscreen, and the gore scenes are few and far between.

The corpse threesome, billed as one of the most disgusting film scenes of all time, is really more laughable than gross. Buttgereit shoots the scene with some weird blurring effects, sort of like softcore porn. Equally amusing is the soft piano music played over the scene. Slightly more impressive is a scene shortly after, where Betty reads to the corpse, then begins making out with it. Still, it's hard to figure out why gore fans revere this movie as much as they do.

Buttgereit, Lorenz, and Franz Rodenkirchen did the FX work, which is actually pretty impressive despite the low budget. Aside from the corpse for the necrophilia, viewers can check out a woman ripped in half in a car wreck, and a man who gets the top half of his head chopped off with a shovel (while shooting blood all over the place and twitching like crazy.)

Animal rights activists can skip this one (or better yet, if you have a friend who's one of those annoying PETA folks, put this in and watch them run screaming from the room). Buttgereit includes footage of a real rabbit being killed and skinned. I never really figured out what it had to do with the rest of the film, but it's guaranteed to offend anyone who loves animals.

NEKROMANTIK isn't an awful film, it's just one that fails to live up to its potential. Buttgereit's become so interested in trying to make a statement that he's forgotten that the main thrust of his film is to shock. It's hard to take a topic as taboo as necrophilia and make it boring, but that's what has happened here. I'm only giving this film two shriek girls, but I'd still recommend it to friends, mainly because if you're really into the whole gore/exploitation scene, then you need to see this film at least once. If you're just looking for a cool necrophilia flick, I'd recommend checking out AFTERMATH, a movie shot on 35mm film and much more impressive.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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