“Nekromantic” (1987)

Nekromantik 1

Germany’s Jörg Buttgereit is a director who exists in a class all by himself, As does his 1987 film “Nekromantik.”His first full length picture, It is regarded by many as the worlds first Post-Modern horror film.I am inclined to agree.Shot entirely on super 8 film, and made on a meager budget, It remains one of the most underrated films ever made.

The film is about Rob Schmadtke, Who is employed by a company that cleans up bodies from traffic accidents and crime scenes from public areas. He uses this job to advance his hobby: collecting various body parts from cadavers.At work he is disliked, and constantly bullied and pushed around by his co-workers.His only solace is his girlfriend Betty, who shares his morbid curiosities and deviations.While removing a body that has been decomposing in a lake for several days, Rob absconds with it, And brings it home to his lover.

What follows is the movies infamous “Love Scene.” Buttgereit had constructed the corpse using discarded animal intestines, a wire frame and an eye of a pig.The filming of the sequence is very surreal, almost dreamlike .A lot of the shots are slowed down as the couple engage in a “Ménage à Trois” with their new toy, who is even fitted with a lead pipe to replicate a phallus. The next morning the two calmly have breakfast together, Reenacting a scene one might see in a film about “Normal” couples.

I want to point out something, One reason I have such a high regard for this film, is it’s a piece BY the counter culture, FOR the counter culture.You have a protagonist who’s not a dashing leading man, he’s spineless,weak and has tastes that the average person would find absolutely revolting.In an age where a lot of American slasher movies had predominantly good looking average stereotypical teenagers in the cast, this is a film that exposes the underbelly of society.A typical film buff might look at the super 8 cinematography and low budget effects and be quick to criticize, But these are all elements that build the films atmosphere and help illustrate the characters for the viewer. These are the outcasts of society.

All does not go well for Rob. Soon after, he loses his job, Betty leaves him taking the corpse with her, And he soon follows a downward spiral of depression.He has failed at everything, and grows completely despondent.He even attends a low budget slasher film trying to alleviate some of the feelings of depression and isolation, He later leaves the theatre with a complete look of defeat upon his face.(I’ve always thought of this as Buttgereit openly mocking the slasher craze of the mid/late 1980’s.)Eventually,he will finally succeed in one thing: taking his own life.

Unlike a lot of films released around this time period, I have always found this one to be very unique, An artistic look at the desires and deviations of youth culture from the oppressive late 1980’s. Buttgereit did something new, He took horror and fitted it with an artistic edge, and I feel he should be given a lot more credit than he has been.I would even go so far as to say that this should be considered an art film, I certainly would.

On a final note there is one more element in this film that I find really interesting.In the second act of the film, Rob has a rendezvous with a prostitute in a cemetery, after unable to perform sexually he is mocked by the woman. In a rage he murders her and commits necrophilia with the corpse. A scenario that mirrors Russian serial killer Andre Chikatilo. Furthermore showing that some of the events of the film aren’t so far fetched as we think they might be.

“Every man has his own tastes, Mine are for corpses.” – Henri Blott


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