Review by Michael Jacobson
Daktari Lorenz, Beatrice M.
Director: Jorg Buttgereit
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Barrel Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 75 Minutes
Release Date: June 13, 2000
come times in every film critic’s career when he has to accept the fact that
when he rates a movie, he’s not only telling about the film…he’s telling
about himself. Sometimes it’s
easy to slap a star rating on a picture and move on.
Nekromantik has proven to be far more difficult.
It was more than asking myself whether or not I liked the picture…it
was considering what liking or disliking the picture was saying about me.
I cop out with a middle of the road two-star rating? No, I don’t think so.
After much thought and soul searching, it seemed the only feasible score.
Jorg Buttgereit pushes the envelope in many ways, but he does so with far
less thoughtfulness than in his later movie Schramm (also available on
disc from Barrel Entertainment). It
comes up with imaginative and effective ways to shock, but it’s driven by a
story line that barely seems more than a clothesline for its sequences.
The characters are fascinating and repulsive in equal amounts, but at no
point do they actually earn the right to take us on this monstrous journey with
the title implies, the film is about necrophilia. The main characters are Robert (Lorenz) and Betty (Beatrice
M.). Robert is employed as a street
cleaner; sometimes his job involves the removal of bodies from the scenes of
accidents (a rather grisly opening scene provides him with just such an
opportunity). He collects body
parts for himself and his girlfriend. He
keeps them in jars. Sometimes, the
couple uses them in their sexual activities; other times, as we see, they like
to bathe in the blood they provide.
film gets even more bizarre when Robert brings home a rotted, waterlogged
corpse, which seems to add an element of spice to their love life.
But when Robert’s odd behavior leads to his dismissal from his job,
Betty quickly loses interest. Without his work, there will be no more toys for him to bring
home. She leaves him…and takes
all leads to a climactic scene that defies description…or at least, defies my
ability to place into words suitable for print. One can only say there may not be another filmmaker around
with the imagination of Buttgereit. That’s
possibly a blessing.
does it all mean? Is there a point
to all of this? This film lacks the
psychological prodding of Schramm. It
weakly suggests that an childhood incident of Robert’s influenced his tastes
and behaviors: this is a rather
repulsive scene of a rabbit being killed, skinned and gutted.
In the commentary track, we learn from Buttgereit that he envisioned this
was Robert’s father killing his son’s beloved pet.
That distinction is not made in the film, so the sequence becomes yet
another detached foray into gruesomeness than neither edifies nor exposits.
for all the flaws and the decidedly disgusting subject matter, I had to admire
Buttgereit’s chutzpah in making the film at all. The question of whether or not the world needed a movie like Nekromantik
is debatable, but one can’t deny the sense that the director was going for
broke in scene after scene. I
don’t know whether to applaud his actors’ courage or pity their desperation
for taking part in these rituals, but I would like to mention that Daktari
Lorenz delivered a rather good performance given the film’s limitations.
Something about his intensity reminded me of a young Udo Kier.
At any rate, he never shied away from the horrific nature of his role,
but rather, dove right in with an almost insane sense of abandonment.
fans should be grateful that Barrel has presented an uncut and uncensored
version of Nekromantik for DVD release.
No matter what you think of the subject matter, it’s always best to see
movies as the directors intended. This
picture, in complete form, can at least stand for or against Jorg Buttgereit.
You be the judge.
I’d like to add, if you find the subject matter of this movie titillating in
the least, I don’t want to know you.
frame is the right aspect ratio for this picture, shot on 16 mm film, but
unfortunately, it suffers from all the usual 16 mm limitations.
Colors are sometimes good, but mostly a little washed.
Low budget film stock means grain, grain and more grain (as the only way
it can demonstrate contrast), and this is no exception.
Some darker scenes suffer quite a bit from it, as well as softer looking
images with only poor-to-fair detail quality.
All in all, this is probably the best this film has ever looked, and also
probably the best it ever will. I
can’t imagine a studio plopping down a cool million for a digital restoration
soundtrack is the original German one, so it’s kind of hard to judge it based
on dialogue quality. Overall, it
sounds like what you’d expect for a low budget film…nothing more, nothing
less. Passable, but certainly not
features are where this disc really excels, and what horror fans will be most
happy about. The commentary track
features director Buttgereit and co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and is an
entertaining listen. Both men speak
English quite well, and have many stories to tell. Buttgereit points out that just because they put certain
things in the movie, it doesn’t mean they are things they enjoy seeing…thank
goodness for that! There is also an
early Buttgereit film, Horror Haven, which is quite a trip to watch.
There is a reflective interview that incorporates newer interviews with
some outtakes, and a making-of featurette with behind-the-scenes footage.
There is an extensive photo gallery, and a number of trailers to round it