Director: Jorg Buttgereit

W. Germany - 1987

    Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!


For the benefit of those with a short attention span...

Is that the scent of love in the air, or merely formaldehyde?

The Guilty Party

Daktari Lorenz plays Rob: Works for Joe’s Street-Cleaning Agency (JSA), whose specific purpose is the disposal of dead bodies. This works well for Rob, because he kinda favors dead bodies; as a matter of fact, Rob has quite an extensive collection of body parts at home. He inevitably gets to bring home a whole specimen, much to the delight of his girlfriend, Betty. Together the three “get better acquainted.” But as we all know, these love triangles almost always end bitterly.

Beatrice Manowski plays Betty: Rob’s girlfriend, and fellow corpse aficionado. She eventually dumps Rob after he loses his job (rationalizing that not only will he have no income, but he’ll no longer have access to dead bodies). To leave Rob is one thing, but she goes a little too far when she takes the cadaver with her. It’s not often one hears something to the effect of, “I’m going home to Mother’s, and I’m taking the corpse with me!”

Harald Lundt plays Bruno: Rob’s immediate supervisor at the JSA. Bruno doesn’t like Rob, due to his work ethic being rather lackadaisical. He eventually gets our hero fired after finding one of Rob’s soiled uniforms left in his locker, quite stagnant after sitting over a long weekend, and thus stinking up the rest of the locker room. I’ve heard people complain about coming home and smelling too much like their job, but jeez!

Heike Surban plays a prostitute: Feeling rather down, Rob decides to pick up a hooker to cap off a delightful evening at the porn theater. They go to a graveyard and attempt to get down to business, but with no luck due to a “lack of interest” from Rob. The prostitute then makes the mistake of mocking our hero, and he, of course, kills her. After that, relations prove to be no problem whatsoever.

"Hi there! I'm Terry, the Lawn Gnome, and I just wanted to apologize in advance for Nekromantik!"


My "thoughts" on the film. Thinking! Ha!

The most amazing thing about this movie is the fact that I argued in favor of reviewing it. You see, as I’m sure you already know, every few months my colleagues and I in The B-Masters’ Cabal pick a theme, then we each review a film that pertains to said theme. When the topic of “Tainted Love” came up, I immediately called dibs on this Jorg Buttgereit classic. To be honest, it was the only film I could think of; that, and it just seemed like the logical choice. A couple weeks later, Andrew Borntreger, of the world-renowned Badmovies.Org, stated that he planned on reviewing Nekromantik. Being an overly-defensive schlep, I quickly whined, “But I wanna review Nekromantik!”

To which Andrew immediately replied, “Go right ahead, ya idiot!”

Well, something along those lines.

And with that being said, it appeared that I had won this epic struggle. (A verbal struggle, naturally; Andrew is a Marine in the truest definition of the word, and I like to keep my limbs exactly where they’re intended to be, thank you very much.)

But I digress, the point is – I won! Or so I thought I won. Come to find out, it would be Andrew that’d have the last laugh. Though I do recall having seen Nekromantik many years ago, I had absolutely no recollection about what a boring piece of trash it is. It’s dull, I tellya! I mean, one would thInsert "Mouthing Off" joke hereink that a movie about necrophilia would be fascinating simply due to the nature of the taboo subject matter. I would think one should feel naughty when watching such a bizarre film. Or perhaps shocked. Nauseated. Anything.

I just felt bored.

No production value (and here I was thinking that the investors would be knocking down Buttgereit’s door!), dimly lit, silly special effects, and most surprisingly of all – hardly any shock value. How can you make a film about bumping uglies with the dead and yet lack shock value? Perhaps all my years of trudging through cinematic dreck has desensitized me. Yeah, I guess I could just be a jaded fool, but I’ll be damned if I can count on both hands the number of times I yawned while screening this movie.

I don’t think Buttgereit intentionally"Oh great, I guess now we're going to have to buy the matching couch, right?" attempted to soften the material; I simply believe that Jorg doesn’t know what he’s doing as a director. Granted, I’m no filmmaker, but I honestly don’t think it would be too difficult to make a shocking film about necrophilia. Instead of shocks, we get scenes of people urinating – disgusting, sure, but hardly shocking. Buttgereit also dips into Ruggero Deodato’s bag of tricks by including scenes of real animals being slaughtered; in this case, a little bunny rabbit. Sure, seeing Peter Cottontail gutted before our very eyes is, in fact, a bit overwhelming – but all in all, it’s a cheap scare. Any idiot can hold a camera while Farmer Vincent skins a rabbit. When you get down to brass tacks, dumb ploys like this didn’t work for Deodato, they didn’t work for John Waters (Mondo Trasho features gratuitous chicken homicide), and they don’t work for Buttgereit.

I, for one, expect a higher caliber of filmmaking when tackling sensitive, thought-provoking issues like necrophilia – this is a topic that the majority of the public have strong convictions about. People want necrophilia to be taken seriously, by a director with enough vision to do the job right. Until that day, we’ll just have to continue our quest to find that elusive cinematic gem that does the subject matter justice. 



These are the times of which to cherish...

- The haunting love theme from Nekromantik.

- Apparently, after a gruesome car crash, authorities merely leave the mangled bodies out in the open until the cleaning service can dispose of the mess. No signs. No roping off the area. Nothing. Just trashed cars and mutilated corpses – free and open to public consumption.

- The gripping urination scenes. Two of ‘em!

Is it soup yet? 

Rob’s growing collection of body parts, sitting on shelves like Grandma might keep fresh preserves.

- The misspelled subtitles – they couldn’t even do that right!

- Buttgereit’s ridiculous implications how the rabbit being gutted (shown several times for our viewing enjoyment) somehow relates to Rob’s disintegrating sanity. How deep is that? 

- The trippy sex scenes shot in flashback cam. Wow! The picture is all wavy! Why, it must be art!

- In the throes of passion, Betty sits up to give her cold lover a kiss, and his eyeball immediately pops out of its socket. Hilarious, but not intentionally, I presume.

Don't ask.

The phallic use of a sawed-off piece of iron pipe. It may sound gross, but they did use a condom – so at least it was safe.

- The touching scene where Betty reads the corpse a story. I’m not kidding, she reads the corpse a story!

- The “Dear John” letter Betty leaves Rob stating that she’s leaving him, and taking their mutual friend with her. For one thing, I find it hilarious that she would use the corpse as emotional retribution against her former lover. But the question comes to mind, how does this petite woman transport the corpse of a full-grown man inconspicuously through the streets of Germany? That’s one to grow on…

Again, don't ask.

Buttgereit’s tribute to Re-Animator where Rob, in a fit of jealous rage, kills his cat. He then takes it one step beyond by gutting the feline, then bathing with its innards. Classy!

- Rob’s whacked-out dreams where he plays catch with a decapitated head, then frolics about a field while tossing around a slab of meat (kind of looked like spare ribs). Why, this too must be art!

Rob’s “climactic” suicide.  


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Eat your heart out, John Woo!

Check out a clip from this film, along with many others, here!




-- Copyright © 2001 by J. Bannerman




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