Directed by German director Jörg Buttgereit (The Death King), Nekromantik is one of those cult-horror titles that has a reputation about it. A film that kids might pass under tables back in the early 90’s, feeling like they were in possession of some sort of relic, a relic that they shouldn’t have had access to. Gory, offensively sleazy and shocking; words that follow the film around and have done for two and a half decades. Nekromantik was never officially released on home video in the UK, and thanks to Arrow Video, it now sees its first release, uncut and unbothered, on a Blu-ray, DVD and CD package, complete with a bunch of special features and the soundtrack, as well as a 100-page book with articles about the film inside. The ultimate edition, you might say, of a film that is the perfect example of “one man’s trash is another man’s fortune”.
After a bit of a warning and a random philosophical quotation, the film opens with a woman peeing at the side of a road in the dark, her bladder contents splashing against the grass. Welcome to Nekromantik. Now, the plot… the plot here isn’t really the point. You don’t watch this film for a plot, for a moving tale of love, or for some sort of life-affirming pondering of life’s nuances. You watch this for the shock, the gore and the, for lack of a better term, fucked-up’ness of the whole thing. A sewage worker named Robert kindly brings his girlfriend, Betty, body parts home from work that he finds on the job (hey, who needs flowers and chocolates?) Delighted by these severed rotten gifts, he continues to bring them to her, and one day, much to his excitement, he finds a full corpse, which he brings home. We then enter the necrophilia portion of the film which put it on the “map”, so to speak, and gave it the reputation of being one of the most controversial films put to celluloid. We now see Robert fighting for the affections of his girlfriend against this putrid cadaver that she straddles. Yeah. It’s a story of a couple with a crazy sexual fetish, like David Cronenberg’s Crash, only incompetently made and with lots more rotting flesh and bathtub writhing.
Within the first few minutes of the movie there had been long-shots of peeing, and the slaughter of a live rabbit, and it was here that I knew this film wasn’t my cup of tea. Entering “let’s try to be shocking” zone and lacking any real sense of tension, it was pretty vividly obvious that Butthereit was intending to cause a stir here and sicken people. Now, I understand the argument of “well, isn’t horror supposed to disgust and disturb”, and there is some validity to that, but at the same time, it isn’t what I personally look for in the genre, and that is all I found here. I understand why Arrow Video put this out, and the release itself is nice. They went all-out on the release, the features and the booklet, and it is always nice to see that sort of treatment given to lesser known cult titles. I do, however, feel like there are many more deserving titles that could have been given this sort of treatment, but that’s a personal opinion.
The movie itself is gritty, grubby and grainy, though it is, as I have been informed, better than it has ever, or will ever, look. It isn’t one to show off your Blu-ray player, that’s for sure. The score is well done, perhaps the strongest element of the film for me, some of the gore is well executed in the film itself and I had fun checking out the special features, which include some short films from Butthereit. If you’re an existing fan of the film then this is definitely a release that you should add to your collection, because it truly is impressive, but as someone who isn’t a fan of the film, I’d say it will certainly be one that many newcomers will find not to be up their street. Who knows though, you might dig it. I wasn’t offended, let’s get that straight, nor was I disturbed or deeply upset by anything I saw. I was actually a little bored and found the whole thing to be pretty supercilious and baiting. It didn’t provoke thought, nor did it offer any humour, intentional or otherwise. If you wanna see piss, blood, violence and a women having sex with a slimy seeping corpse, then go right ahead, I just ask for a little more in my cult horror fare.
Regardless of my personal opinion of Nekromantik, I want to reiterate that the standard of the release itself is high, and Arrow have knocked it out of the park again with their attention to detail and giving fans what they want. I know many people who were over the moon to see this film released, and in that sense it is great that it has been given such a fine package. On par with the wonderful Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 release from last year, this further shows off why Arrow are the best at what they do.
Details of the set;
3-DISC DIRECTOR-APPROVED LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray & Standard Definition DVD presentation of three Buttgereit films: Nekromantik (1987), Hot Love (1985) [29 mins] and Horror Heaven (1984) [23 mins]
- Optional English subtitles for all three films
- Limited Edition packaging featuring new artwork by Gilles Vranckx
- Individually-numbered #/3,000 Certificate
- Set of 5 Exclusive Limited Edition Nekromantik polaroid postcards
- Exclusive Limited Edition 100-page book.
DISC 1 [BLU-RAY] & DISC 2 [DVD] NEKROMANTIK & JÖRG BUTTGEREIT SHORT FILMS
- Nekromantik audio commentary with Jörg Buttgereit and co writer Franz Rodenkirchen
- Hot Love audio commentary with Buttgereit
- Horror Heaven audio commentary with Buttgereit
- Director s introduction to Nekromantik
- Alternative Grindhouse Version of Nekromantik, newly-transferred for this release from the only existing 35mm print [Blu-ray only]
- In Conversation with The Death King A brand-new 2014 interview with Buttgereit conducted exclusively for this release
- Morbid Fascination: The Nekromantik Legacy A brand-new 2014 documentary looking at the impact of the film on the horror scene both in the UK and abroad, featuring interviews with genre critic Alan Jones, Marc Morris, producer of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Parts 1 & 2, and Buttgereit biographer David Kerekes
- Q&A with Buttgereit recorded at Glasgow s Centre for Contemporary Arts (2014)
- The Making of Nekromantik A vintage doc featuring a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage, newly-transferred in HD and viewable with two different audio tracks: an English commentary with Buttgereit, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen and David Kerekes, and a German-language audio track featuring radio interviews with Buttgereit, Rodenkirchen and producer Manfred Jelinski
- Nekromantik Featurette A look back at the film s production, featuring interviews with Buttgereit and Jelinski, produced for the film s 10-year anniversary German VHS release
- Nekromantik Premiere A short featurette comprised of footage from the film s premiere in Berlin, January 1988
- Das Letzte A short featurette comprising footage from the 1985 premiere of Hot Love
- Horror Heaven trailer featuring outtakes from the film
- Two Buttgereit-directed music videos: I Can t Let Go by Shock Therapy (1995) and Lemmy, I m a Feminist by Half Girl (2013)
- Complete collection of Buttgereit feature film trailers: Nekromantik, Der Todesking, Nekromantik 2 and Schramm
- Extensive image gallery including behind-the-scenes stills and the rare, surrealist German-language Nekromantik comic by Berlin artist Fil, reproduced in its entirety.
DISC 3 [CD] SOUNDTRACK: ULTIMATE EDITION LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
- 27-track CD featuring the complete Nekromantik soundtrack composed and performed by star Daktari Lorenz and musicians John Boy Walton and Hermann Kopp, plus rare tracks from Hot Love.
100-PAGE BOOK LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
- Exclusive bound book featuring a new article on Nekromantik from critic Graham Rae, alongside pieces from writers David Kerekes, Kier-La Janisse,Linnie Blake and an archive interview with necrophile Karen Greenlee illustrated with new art and stills.
Nekromantik, Limited Edition 3 Disc Set is available on December 15th, from Arrow Video.