NEKROMANTIK (1988) – Uncut Arrow Video Blu-Ray Review

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Directed by Jörg Buttgereit
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Working as a street cleaner, Rob has a habit of bringing home things he finds. When he and his team collect a decomposed body found in a pond, he decides to take it home to spice up the love life of his and his girlfriend Betty. However, when Betty becomes more sexually interested in the corpse than Rob, and with his job at the cleaners insecure, Rob’s world begins to fall down around him.

A gritty tale of necrophilism set in a realistic setting of an apparently “normal” heterosexual relationship in Germany, Nekromantik is a hard-to-stomach piece of cinema. Though the film shows how easily a modern couple could conceal their morbid desires and appear as relatively normal human beings, a part of the film which involves the acquisition of the corpse and body pieces is fantastical. In the film, Joe’s Street Cleaning employees go around to murder and accident sites and “clean up” by collecting the bodies in bin bags and then disposing of them. No police, no forensics and I’m sure as hell they’re not being sent to any morgue, especially with Rob’s ability to easily sneak away organs and in the prime plot of this story, a complete corpse. Even some of the workers can be seen packing the decomposed bodies and bloodied entrails into the bags without the use of gloves or masks. This element takes an essence of realism out of the movie and feels like a poor way of setting up a source to provide the object of desire which will satisfy Rob and Betty – the major plot thread and controversial selling point of the movie.

Daktari Lorenz as Rob and Beatrice Manowski as Betty perform their roles well as the necrophile couple, particularly the scenes with the corpse and Rob’s eventual breakdown. The characters themselves don’t say very much during the film but their body language and actions throughout the movie complete the story without the need for dialogue.

I had to look away a couple of times during the film and this was due to two sections which depicts the killing and skinning of a rabbit. It looked pretty realistic to me from the little I accidentally caught and from then I shielded my eyes, so whether it was real or not I’m unsure, but I’d say I was 90% sure the entire thing was of real animal killing. The film also features other difficult scenes including another depiction of animal cruelty, which is thankfully faked, and licking of the film’s corpse. With a slight phobia of grime and things associated with dirt, the love scenes completely grossed me out, especially when Rob decides to suck out the corpse’s eyeball and swill it inside his mouth before replacing it. The sensual acts and intimacy the couple have with the corpse, including all the touching, kissing and licking, definitely made me squirm in my seat and wince both in disgust and disbelief.

Despite the aura of death, there is a lighter side to NEKROMANTIK. One of these is the striking score. The film features a romantic piano piece which is often repeated throughout the duration. Romantic and upbeat, the music is a stark contrast to the dark content of the movie but then also highlights the sensual side of the story – a man and a woman’s love.

Without doubt Arrow Video have pulled out all the stops with this uncut release. Nekromantik is jam-packed to the brim with special features, including the short films of Jörg Buttgereit, new never before seen interviews, making of footage, behind the scenes stills, commentaries, premiere footage, trailers and even a segment on what horror fans think of the once-banned movie and the impact it had. The high-definition release also features an optional director’s intro and includes the Grindhouse version of the movie from the 35mm print. Most of these features are quite lengthy in duration and give a great insight into the the making of the movie, the shoot and the ideas behind it. Having experienced quite a few of Arrow Video’s releases, this may be the most comprehensive in terms of bonus material. The limited edition release also comes with a 100 page booklet that features various interviews and articles about the film, including an interview with a necrophile. The film transfer itself is decent with all the scratches from the 8mm original print present. The audio is great, even if there’s not so much dialogue in the movie, and compliments the film well with the bold score ringing out to engrain upon your brain.

Nekromantik is a rather art-house style experimental movie and its core subject is not one you can really enjoy. I’m glad I’ve watched the movie but would I want a second viewing? Probably not as necrophilia ain’t my bag and the associated grime and animal cruelty that comes with this film freaks me the hell out. However, I can appreciate Nekromantik as a movie and it effectively tells a story of psychological and physical love, just a different kind.

Film Rating: Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Arrow Video Blu-Ray release rating: 5/5

About Bat 6969 Articles
I love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: Kingdom Come: Deliverance

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