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October 15, 2014


Nekromantik 2.jpg

Jörg Buttgereit - 1987
Cult Epics BD Region A

Just in time for the holiday season, that is, if Halloween is your holiday, comes this infamous film released as a Blu-ray disc. I don't recall when I first was made aware of Nekromantik, but I was disappointed when, right after I joined Netflix in 2001, Jorg Buttgereit's film was no longer available. I guess this is an example of how good things come to those who wait, as the Cult Epics disc is loaded with both the director's version, the "grind house" version (complete with scratchy images), an earlier short film by Buttgereit, Hot Love, filmmaker's commentary tracks, and more.

Admittedly, a love story about a man, a woman, and a corpse, isn't going to appeal to everyone. On the other hand, the one left on the side of the road, I was not prepared for a film this funny. Sure, some of the over the top gore makes Herschell Gordon Lewis look like a master at discretion. Shooting Super 8, with friends over the course of many weekends, Buttgereit is closer to the Hollywood in the Bronx aesthetics of the Kuchar Brothers, if more transgressive than dared by the twins.

nekromantik 1.jpg

The tone of the film is set when a young couple, driving in the dark, try to look at a map instead of the road. Of course this leads to an accident, and what an accident. Buttgereit probably never heard of the Kuchars, and probably never heard the Jimmy Cross novelty song from 1965, "I Want My Baby Back", a parody of songs like "Leader of the Pack" and "Last Kiss". After waking up from a car crash, Cross looks for his sweetheart - "Over there was my baby. . . and over there was my baby . . . and way over there was my baby!". Hey, for some of teenagers at that time, this was pretty funny stuff the first fifty or so times we heard this song. "I Want My Baby Back" ends with Cross climbing into the coffin of his sweetheart. In short, young people, black humor, necrophilia - nothing new. Buttgereit has put on film the kind of stuff that was considered somewhat acceptable if kept in the imagination.

There has been serious analysis of Nekromantic by others. Suffice to say that this is the kind of film that will evoke different responses from different viewers, some plainly more interested in the visceral impact of the transgressive imagery than any meaning that might be derived from the strange love of Rob and Betty. For fans of Nekromantik, this new Blu-ray might constitute an embarrassment of riches. For those insisting on more tasteful artistic expressions, Nekromantic will be dismissed as an embarrassment.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 15, 2014 07:06 AM