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Review: ‘Nekromantik’ is Very Much a Work of Art

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Review: 'Nekromantik' is Very Much a Work of Art

“The first ever erotic film for necrophiliacs” – John Waters.

Nekromantik is a 1987 German exploitation film directed by Jorg Buttgereit. Considered to be a “no budget” film, it utilizes real animal parts and low budget cinematography. We are even treated to a “movie inside a movie” and it is some of the best “no budget” work in film history.

As showcased by the name, Nekromantik is a love story to death. The main theme of the film is the taboo act of necrophilia. This topic really pushed the standards of censorship in Germany and would have typically been immediately banned in the country. However, Buttgereit was able to work his way around this by releasing the film to adult audiences only. In fact, this was the sole purpose of Buttgereit when he made Nekromantik. Tired of the censorship in Germany, Buttgereit wanted to make something that would truly disturb the masses. He succeeded.

Nekromantik is about a timid man named Rob and his girlfriend, Betty. We learn that Rob and Betty have a very special kink, the dead. We also learn through different shots of surrealism how Rob came to be the way he is. Betty isn’t analyzed too much because our main character is Rob. Working with a local street cleaning crew, Rob has the opportunity of a lifetime when he jobs basically hands him over an entire corpse and Rob decides to bring the body home.

Nekromantik Skull

Outfitted with real life animal mutilations and a 10 minute long sex scene involving a necrophiliac threesome, Nekromantik is not afraid to deliver. As mentioned before, being a no budget film makes it that much more impressive. At one point we saw the entire slaughter and “preparation” of a rabbit. This was done by Buttgereit simply going to a rabbit farm and asking if he could film the act. The body brought home by Rob looks amazing. It was created by stretching latex over discarded animal entrails picked up at the local butcher shop. The corpse has an eyeball protruding from one of it’s sockets and it sort of becomes a character of it’s own. At one point Rob (Daktari Lorenz) pays special attention to the eye by sucking it in and out of his mouth. This was a real eyeball that the actor was enjoying foreplay with. The film being shot entirely on 8MM helped give it the grittiness that we have enjoyed in other films. However, the real treat is the soundtrack. Calling it beautiful is an understatement. All the pieces are original scores that were written to go along with the scenes in the film and it doesn’t miss a beat. It almost makes you forget that you’re watching a movie about necrophilia and that what you’re actually seeing is quite beautiful.

Even though we know that Buttgereit was going for shock, this movie is very much a work of art and there are plenty of ways to analyze it. Plenty of hidden gems are easily overlooked in the film but almost every scene, line, symbol, and artifact are carefully placed. For example, Rob is a theater at some point watching a slasher film. We see the audience being indifferent to the violent and even misogynistic style of torture going on in the film. It’s a “blink and you miss it” scene, but these are peppered throughout the entire movie.

Faces of Death was my first experience with disturbing movies, but Nekromantik was what got me into them. I saw an article written about it on a very old social media site and I was captivated. I remember seeing the movie poster and a shot of the corpse hanging on a wall. I remember reading about how it was banned in several countries and how graphic it was. I had to see this movie. Once I did, I was hooked. I wanted to push my own boundaries. I am biased when I speak so highly of this film. I recognize that. It does have a very low rating from critics. The acting is not great. Some of the practical effects and cheap set designs are laughable. Yet, I think for what it is, it’s perfect. It is disturbing. We don’t just get necrophilia. We get necrophilia with a decayed corpse that has spent some time in the water. The couple lives in an apartment that rivals Leatherface and his decorating skills. For whatever reason, there’s a close up shot of a man peeing. There are wild dream sequences that don’t seem to connect to anything or make any sense. And yet, it’s all very beautiful in a weirdo way. I will stand by this film and speak highly of it, always. Give it a watch and come to your own analysis of what you think it represents. It has the best climax that I have ever seen and for that alone, I promise it’s well worth the watch.

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