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NEKROMANTIK 2

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Monika M., Mark Reeder
Director:  Jorg Buttgereit
Audio:  Stereo, Mono (German)
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Barrel Entertainment
Features:  See Review
Length:  103 Minutes
Release Date:  June 17, 2003

“I met a girl a short time ago.  She’s nice, but…”

Film **1/2

What’s a beautiful girl like Monika M. doing in an ugly film like Nekromantik 2?  Ah, well…

Some movies are meant to open your mind.  Others are meant to blow it.  Jorg Buttgereit has spent a couple of decades going for the gag reflex, and mostly finding it.  His films have been celebrated in cult circles and condemned by just about everybody else.  Some of his works have even suffered being banned in his native Germany and other countries…in fact, he even had to go to court to plead on behalf of Nekromantik 2 by arguing that it was, in fact, art.  Wouldn’t you love to get a gander at those court transcripts?

Ever since reviewing the original Nekromantik on this site, the question most often asked by readers who saw the title for the first time was, “Does that mean what I think it means?”  (For the record:  yes, it DOES mean what you think it means.)  The second most asked question was “When is Nekromantik 2 coming to DVD?”  For the record again, it’s here.

Barrel Entertainment has been cultivating a reputation for preserving the best (or the worst) of the cult horror pictures.  The more average people recoil from a movie, the better a choice it seems for this company to bring it to DVD with red carpet treatment.  Nekromantik 2 is a double disc set featuring the uncut, uncensored version of the film and plenty of extras to go along with it…more on that further down.

Amusingly enough, at the heart of the picture is an almost-sweet love story between a lovely young nurse named Monika (Monika M.) and a naïve porn-film dubber Mark (Reeder).  They meet when Mark’s old girlfriend shows up too late (as usual) for a movie he has tickets to.  He offers one to Monika.  They enjoy the film.  Later, they have a wonderful day at the fair, even sharing a few tender, innocent kisses on a Ferris wheel.  Aww.

But there is something strange about the lovely Monika.  Mark can’t quite identify it.  Fortunately, we can, because we saw the beginning of the picture and he didn’t.  Monika likes to play with dead things.  As the film opens, she’s retrieving the corpse of Rob (Daktari Lorenz), the necrophile who had one of cinema’s most horrifically memorable exists in the first movie.  What does she do with the rotting body?  Go back and read the title of the film again.

Mark’s presence complicates issues for Monika.  He’s a sweet guy, but with a body temperature a little too warm for her taste.  Meanwhile, Rob seems to be the perfect partner.  He’s docile and submissive, and damn sure never leaves the toilet seat up.  When forced to choose between life and death, what will she do?

In a Jorg Buttgereit film, the answer is:  the unexpected.  If you thought the first movie had a rather shocking ending, you’re in for a bigger treat with part 2.  But the gruesome, grisly, and strangely funny climax gets an even more surprising exclamation point by the addition of three simple words.

What are my impressions of the movie?  Well, as with the first one, I kind of wished I hadn’t had dinner before settling in to watch it.  Nobody else makes movies quite like Buttgereit, and that may be a blessing.  He has a healthy imagination that may be somewhat less than healthy for the rest of us.  If you’re going to view his movies, you probably ought to be sure that you’re one of a very select audience he’s aiming for.  Otherwise, you’re going to be in over your head.  I’m a confessed horror movie junkie myself, and I sometimes found it hard to stay in my seat.  In some ways, I appreciated this sequel a little more than the original Nekromantik for having a bit of a twisted sense of humor in the margins and a story that might have been buoyant in a different film minus the loving dead.

Still, for all the fans who have been clamoring for this title, this Barrel release is definitely the way to go.  If you’re going to see it, you should see it mercilessly uncut and in full gory glory. 

Video **1/2

This digitally remastered transfer is a bit inconsistent.  Some parts are outstanding.  Some are a bit shoddy.  Stretches of film go from being clean, well-colored and nicely detailed to dirty, grainy, and soft.  All in all, fans will probably be pleased enough with the efforts here.  Since I seriously doubt anybody is going to sink the money required for a full-scale restoration into it, they’ll have to be.

Audio **

With a choice of remixed stereo or original mono German tracks, this DVD works well enough, but showcases some of the limitations of a low-budget shoot.  Some open air background noise is unavoidable in quieter scenes.  It’s not distracting, but noticeable, and again, the kind of problem only a complete reworking would correct.  The music for this film isn’t quite as memorable as it was for the first one.  Still, the overall soundtrack is serviceable enough.  

Features ****

The coolest extra included in this package, in my opinion, is the second disc which is a CD featuring the soundtrack music to both Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2.  The main theme from the first movie is actually a surprisingly pleasant and lovely tune that might just stay in your head for a while.

The video features are on the first disc, which start with a commentary track by director Jorg Buttgereit, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and stars Monika M. and Mark Reeder, the lone Brit.  It sounds like kind of a fun reunion for the troupe…not overly informative, but friendly and humorous.  Buttgereit mourns not speaking better English (he’s quite understandable, but has a voice akin to Dr. Strangelove), mentions his legal troubles with the distribution, and discusses shooting and locations and such with his comrades pitching in with their thoughts and memories.

A 25 minute making-of documentary is mostly a collection of behind the scenes footage, which you can view either with Buttgereit and crew’s original commentary, or with some of his rare German radio interviews with English subtitles.  There are trailers for this film and other Buttgereit offerings, a bizarre early short 8 mm film from him, the music video he directed for The Krupps’ “Rise Up” (featuring Monika M.), an 11 minute outtakes reel, and over 100 behind the scenes photos.  A terrific banquet of features!

Summary:

Nekromantik on DVD is frequently hard to come by, so fans of the series should snap up Barrel Entertainment’s offering of Nekromantik 2 while it’s available…it’s a limited run of only 20,000 copies.  Once again, this company has put a commendable effort into the packaging of an out-of-the-mainstream cult title.  The fans will appreciate it…and man, I hope you know who you are.