Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 15th, 2014
BluRay released: December 15th, 2014
Approximate running time: 71 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo German, LPCM Mono German
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2
Retail Price: £24.80 (UK)
Synopsis: A young man named Rob uses his job where he collects and disposes of corpses to help build his growing collection of body parts. Not satisfied with just collecting mere body parts, one day he brings home an intact corpse. Rob in not alone in his obsession for the dead, his girlfriend Betty is also a necrophiliac. Unfortunately there moment of bliss would be short lived and Rob’s world will be turned inside out when Betty decides to leave him for the corpse he recently brought home. Unable to cope with this great loss he seeks out new avenues in hope that he will be able to fill the void that now dominates his life.
Today’s audiences are constantly bombarded with violent imagery in films and in the news, which has led to a desensitization towards violence. And though it appears that each new film appears to be trying to outdo the last one when it comes to pushing the limits in regards to its depiction of violence. There are always going to be those films that are beyond the fringe that would shock even the most jaded cinema file. Case in point, Nekromantik a film that is just a potent today as the moment it was unleashed on audiences twenty six years ago.
On subject matter alone, there are very few films that are going to push buttons more than Nekromatik, a film that features a protagonist who obsession with necrophilia is bound to revolt the majority of perspective viewers. And if this were this film’s only objective, then it would have already faded away into obscurity.
Fortunately this film is not your run of mill shock and awe gore feast. And at the core of this film is story about love and death and how these two things are intertwined. Other subjects that this film explores include obsession and dealing with a loss of a loved one.
With that being said, this is the type of film that is bound to divide perspective viewers. It is a film that defies all genre conventions and more importantly it is a rare example of film capturing the true essence of horror. And though things that go bump in the night are bound to make most jolt, this film takes you to place where even the darkest of dreams are an afterthought compared to the events which unfold in this film.
From a production stand point there is a rawness to the visuals that add a level of authenticity to them. With the two scenes involving the corpse being fondled and the film’s brutal final being this film’s most memorable moments visually. And when it comes to moments of gore or bloodshed the film’s delivers in spades. The one area of this film that is most surprising is how well it incorporates humor into such a morbid tale.
Performance this are more than adequate as the majority of the characters within this film are mere props to further the story along. Thankfully the strongest performances come from this film’s two leads, Bernd Daktari Lorenz in the role of Robert and Beatrice Manowski (Wings of Desire) in the role of Betty. Both actors totally immerse themselves into the performances.
Since the beginning of cinema filmmakers have been forced to create within a confined area that far too often dilutes their vision. Thankfully not all filmmakers are content to just toe the line and that is why films like Nekromantik exists. Ultimately Nekromantik is a truly unique cinema experience that is best summed up as ‘cinema without boundaries’.
Nekromantik comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This film has been given a brand new HD transfer sourced from the original negatives and the end results are comparable to Cult Epics recent Blu-Ray release. Also included with this release is a Grindhouse version of the film that was sourced from a 35mm print (71 minutes 9 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive, in German with burnt-in English subtitles). Quality wise the Grindhouse version’s transfer is not in as good of shape as the other transfer included as part of this release. And though it has more print debris, it does give fans of this film an option to see this film the way most viewers saw during its original theatrical release.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM stereo mix in German and a LPCM mono mix in German. Quality wise both mixes are in very good shape as everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. The main difference between the audio mixes used for this release and the aforementioned Cult Epics release, is that both audio mixes on the Arrow Video release are uncompressed audio tracks. Another way that these two releases differ is that Arrow Video’s release has the film’s original mono mix. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include an image gallery, trailers for Nekromantik (2 minutes 1 second – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), Der Todesking (2 minutes 21 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), Nekromantik 2 (1 minute 5 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), Schramm (1 minute 31 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive) and Hot Love (1 minute 10 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), an interview with Buttgereit and producer Manfred O. Jelinski (9 minutes 23 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), a featurette titled ‘The Making of Nekromantik’ (12 minutes 24 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), a short film also directed by Buttgereit titled ‘Hot Love’ (29 minutes 5 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive, in German with English subtitles), a ‘Making of’ segment for Hot Love (3 minutes 27 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive) and an audio commentary with Jörg Buttgereit and screenwriter Franz Rodenkirchen, who discuss locations, special effects, the cast, the score, how they wanted to create a film that would not look dated, the difficulties on shooting on a limited budget and shooting over a prolonged period of time, the look of the film and why there are so many close-ups in this film and their thoughts on key sequences.
The ‘The Making of Nekromantik’ featurette is a collection of onset footage, stills and outtakes, that have comments from Jörg Buttgereit and Franz Rodenkirchen who discuss the origins of the film, true crime books and their influence on this film, depiction of violence in horror cinema and the special effects. Topics discussed in the interview with Buttgereit and producer Manfred O. Jelinski include constructing the corpse used in the film, raising the money need to make this film, the script, finding an actress to fulfill this film’s unique requirements, how the two leads in this film did not get along, how a the film was confiscated before a theatrical showing in Norway, the various home video releases this film has received around the world and censorship that it faced in a few countries. The ‘Making of’ segment for Hot Love is essentially footage of those who have just seen the film and their thoughts on what they have just seen.
Extras exclusive to this release include two music videos, Shock Therapy ‘I Can’t Let Go’ and Half Girl ‘Lemmy, I’m a Feminist’, an interview with Jörg Buttgereit titled ‘In Conversation with The Death King’ (22 minutes 6 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a Q & A at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts on August 26, 2014 with Jorg Buttgereit (45 minutes 17 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a short film also directed by Buttgereit titled ‘Horror Heaven’ (23 minutes 20 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive, in German with English subtitles and optional audio commentary with Jörg Buttgereit), Horror Heaven outtakes (4 minutes 32 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive, in German with English subtitles) and a documentary titled ‘The Nekromantik Legacy’ (39 minutes 53 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) with comments from Marc Morris (Nucleus Films), Toiny M. Clarke (owner, Psychotronic Store), Virginue Selavy (editor, Electric Sheep Magazine), Scotty Bradley (Extreme Cinephile), Justin Harries (Filmbar70), Patricia MacCormack (professor of continental philosophy Anglia Ruskin University), David Flint (film historian), David Kerekes (author & publisher, Headpress), Jörg Buttgereit, Alan Jones (author / film critic) and Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor Press).
Topics discussed in interview titled ‘In Conversation with The Death King’ include, what inspired him to make Nekromantik and what he was trying to achieve as a filmmaker, his disappointment that most horror movies at that time were made for teenagers and not adult audiences, how Nekromantik took two years to finish and that there was never a finished script, the perils of low budget filmmaking, locations used in the film, the cast and how its two leads did not get along while making this film, strong woman characters in his films, the film’s score, things he likes about the final product and things that he would have done differently, killing the rabbit sequence, audience reaction to the film, how modern cinema lacks risk-taking and it is all about money.
Topics discussed in the Q &A include his influences cinematic and beyond, the film’s British premier at the Scala Theatre and meeting author / filmmaker Clive Barker, the film’s home video history, how hard it is to make an independent film due to illegal downloading, Nekromantik 2, censorship that this film has faced over the years and he also touches upon subjects that have already been discussed in other extras.
Topics discussed in ‘The Nekromantik Legacy’ include, how each participant first encountered this film, its British premier at the Scala Theatre, the difficulty obtaining the film on home video market and their thoughts on the final product.
Other extras include a DVD counterpart to the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo, a 27-track CD with the film’s score and a few tracks from the film Hot Love, a individually-numbered certificate (#1-3,000), a set of 5 Exclusive Limited Edition Nekromantik ‘polaroid’ postcards, limited edition packaging featuring new artwork by Gilles Vranckx and a 100-page Book with cast & crew credits, a contemporary review for ‘Hot Love’ written by David Kerekes, four essays, the first one titled ‘Deviant Wisconsin Resonance’ written by Graham Rae, the second one titled ‘What’s the Message with the Rabbit? written by David Kerekes, the third one titled ‘ The Horror of the Nazi Pat in the Reunification Present: Jörg Buttgereit Nekromantiks’ written by Linnie Blake, the fourth one titled ‘Loving the Dead’ written by Kier-La Janisse, an interview with Karen Greenlee ‘The Unrepentant Necrophile’, text piece about the films score and information about this films transfer. Needless to say the packaging for this release is breathtaking. Overall Nekromantik gets an definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.
Note: Screenshots 1 through 6 are taken from new HD master, while screenshots 7 through 9 were taken from the Grindhouse print.