Nekromantik (1988)

NekromantikDirector: Jorg Buttgereit

Stars: Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice Manowski, Harald Lundt


Graphic, low-budget gore-shocker about Rob and Betty, a couple of ordinary necrophiles who apparently dont mind if their dead sexual partners are not so fresh. Rob’s job affords him the opportunity to bring home corpses and the odd body part. When he loses his job, he loses Betty, and Rob’s life gets really bizarre.

Ah, Valentine’s day. The season of crap poetry, legal stalking, and where an enormous amount of loneliness and bitterness fills your soul. It can also be a time of romance as a lot of people choose to go on the search for love soon after this event, possibly following a money saving break up they executed some time before Christmas. It’s this romantic angle I’m dwelling on as I bring you a review of Jorg Buttgereit’s art house classic “Nekromantik”, possibly the greatest love story ever told. So dim the lights, pour a glass of wine and, I dont know, put a rose in your hair or something, as we begin this beautiful tale of love and loss.

Be warned!

Be warned!

Well, of course the film opens with this little disclaimer, so once Bunty and Primrose are ushered from the room, we’re all set to start watching the film proper. The very first scene provides us with the image of a woman having a piss whilst her husband waits for her in the car. Quite some time later she’s all done and rejoins hubby who drives off to their unknown destination. Piss lady is navigating via map, but obviously this is a struggle for her and so she starts to become all womany until the man has to get involved and look at the map himself. Within about 0.4 of a second after doing this however, he manages to lose control and crash the car ending both the lives of him and his loved one. The title card is then shown of which wonderfully dramatic music is played over. Are you in the mood yet?

Honestly though, this music is astonishingly good, but I digress. We’re now shown the extent of the damage caused by woman’s inability to map read. The car is totally written off, while the man is now lying in the backseat with his eye hanging out and piss lady’s a few feet away on the grass cut completely in half at the midriff. A red van comes along and five men get out, one of which is played by director Jorg Buttgereit, and another being our hero, Rob (Lorenz). These men work for J.S.A (Joe’s Streetcleaning Agency) and their job is to collect any dead bodies that happen to be out in public. After this particular job, The foreman, Bruno (Lundt) goes to see Joe to complain about Rob, saying he’s a bit crap at the whole street cleaning procedure.

Always keep your eyes on the road.

Always keep your eyes on the road.

So who is Rob and why is he so rubbish at his job? Well, Rob’s the kind of guy who returns home wearing a coat over his blood stained overalls, and is partial to a bit of body part theft, in this case, the man’s eye which was hanging out. He keeps these mementos in jars and aswell as the eye, we see he has a disembodied hand, a heart, and an unborn fetus amongst other little trinkets on his trophy cabinet. Whilst adding to his collection, we meet Rob’s proud girlfriend, Betty (Manowski), who congratulates him with a kiss before heading off to have a blood bath, literally. As she does this, Rob watches TV and has a flashback to his father killing his rabbit. This is basically stock footage of a farmer slitting a bunny’s throat, skinning it, then gutting it. This scene is not lovely.

Now we come to a very significant, if not dodgy part of this tale. Some guy is sitting in his garden and for some reason he’s holding a gun as his gardener is picking apples from a tree nearby. The man sees a bird flying through the trees and decides to start shooting at it, but being something of a clumsy idiot, manages to shoot the gardener in the neck killing him instantly. The man then panics and hides the gardener in a nearby ditch, thus it’s yet another busy day for Joe’s Streetcleaning Agency. After collecting dead gardener guy, it’s Rob that’s given the task to take the body to… well, wherever these people take the bodies they pick up, but as he’s about to follow orders, Rob has second thoughts and decides that the cadaver would make a wonderful gift for Betty. It’s the thought that counts.

The star of the show! (the corpse, not the lady on the poster)

The star of the show! (the corpse, not the lady in the poster)

Rob brings home the corpse and Betty enthusiastically unwraps her new present from the bin bags which J.S.A. use for their operations. After Rob provides a pipe to act as a makeshift schlong for the deceased gardener, they’re soon in the bedroom enjoying a menage a trois in a love scene that when once viewed, will probably never be forgotten. A highlight is Betty riding the pipe as Rob fondles the body. He then sucks it’s eye out before spitting it back into the empty socket. Afterwards, they’re eating dinner, which I think consists of human flesh and blood to wash it down, as their new friend hangs from the wall dripping blood into a couple of dishes. I’m starting to think this couple might be a bit weird.

The next morning, Rob is late for work and his foreman is angry with him because of his lacklustre timekeeping, and the fact that he left overalls in his locker to rot over the weekend. He drags him upstairs to see Joe, who tells him that he doesn’t fit in before firing him there and then. Meanwhile, Betty is reading love poetry to corpsey and soon enough, they’re at it like rabbits, well, she is, he’s just lying there being all dead. Joe gets back and tells her the bad news, so she flips out saying that they’ll need a new dead sex friend at some point because the rotting gardener won’t last long and he’s basically messed up the whole corpse access aspect of their sick hobby. She storms out so Joe heads off to buy her a cat to make up for his mistake. Smooth.

A film within a film.

A film within a film.

Upon returning home with the new pet, he finds Betty isn’t around and soon discovers a note saying that she’s left him and that she’s taken the corpse with her as a final present from him to her. He looks at the wall for confirmation and sees nothing but a man sized stain where the body used to hang. Joe reacts to this in an understandably negative manner. He burns a picture of Betty, puts the cat in a bin bag, twats it against the wall, then cuts it open and has a bath in it’s guts. Later he decides to visit a dodgy cinema to watch a film where a man with an axe and a stocking on his head, pursues an attractive blonde lady before tying her up and cutting her chest open. This seems to bore Rob so he leaves mid film and goes home to bed where he has a dream that he’s a decaying corpse exiting a bin bag. A woman dressed all in white approaches him and offers him a black box. Inside there’s a rotting head, so he takes it out and he and the woman play catch with it. This film is weirdly amazing.

Later, or the next night, I’m not sure, Rob pulls up in his car alongside a group of prostitutes and one of them agrees to be taken to a graveyard to have sexy time with him. When they arrive, Rob of course wants to do it on a gravestone, so the hooker obliges, but it seems he has a little problem, he can’t get it up. The whore finds this hilarious and laughs in Rob’s face, so he gets all pissy and strangles her to death before realising that’s all that was needed and has sex with her dead body. Rob makes the mistake of falling asleep however, and the next morning a gravedigger finds them both lying on the grave. Shocked, the man drops his shovel which wakes Rob, so Rob acts quickly by picking it up and cutting most of the gravediggers head off with it. The film ends with Rob going insane and stabbing himself in the guts as he ejaculates blood. We then see his grave as a spade is driven into the dirt by a woman in high heels. How ironic.

Can someone call Joe please?

Can someone call Joe please?

Now, after reading all of that you may think this is nothing more than a low budget sick flick made only to shock. It is low budget, and it is pretty shocking, but there’s also something beautiful about it. The amazing music provided by the film’s star, Bernd Daktari Lorenz, Buttgereit stalwart Hermann Kopp, and some guy called John Boy Walton, really helps with this as it jumps from dramatic to graceful and elegant wonderfully. Seriously though, this isn’t just me being mental or anything, “Nekromantik” has a huge cult following including many respected critics, in fact, I’ve rarely heard or read anything bad being said about the film. Filled with context and symbolism, Nekromatik is a film I hold in the highest regard and unless you really can’t stomach such graphic imagery, or if you really like rabbits, then I urge you to seek it out. Also, if this review has made anyone feel that little bit more randy this Valentine’s day, then my work here is done. Cheers.


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17 Responses to Nekromantik (1988)

  1. jkreuter says:

    Solid review !

  2. emmakwall says:

    Happy Valentines 🙂

    Not read this post yet but will do soon and comment accordingly. Your posts need my undivided attention 🙂 as do your comments!!

    Looks like another corker though Damian!

  3. Abbi says:

    This sounds a bit too rancid for me…

  4. emmakwall says:

    You say this is a love story but I’m still waiting for the bit where Meg Ryan or Hugh Grant pop up?

    Love the idea of the dramatic opening music but the bit where he sucked the eye out made me feel a bit sick. And I love fluffy bunnies!!!!!

  5. vinnieh says:

    Solid review Damian, I recently read Zoe’s review on The Film Fetishist.

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