Saturday, July 10, 2010
Entertainment - a tough one....
I once lived with a guy who was really into horror movies. He introduced me to grindcore way back in 1990 when it was first starting to come around. A good guy that I'm lucky enough to still be in touch with. He loved this movie - thought it was an astounding piece of art. I've never really agreed but I definitely agreed that it was a grim little feller of a movie.
It would simply be ludicrous to say that Nekromantik is not offensive. You should be offended and disturbed and if you're not, you've got a screw loose. Despite the facade of "art" and "creativity", despite any sort of psychological, philosophical mumbo jumbo you want to throw about, Nekromantik is nothing more, nothing less than a sleazy film about corpse fucking. Add in that it's terrifyingly cheap and German (and that's freakishly important) and you've got a movie that intentionally blurs the fictional line between snuff film, porn and some unknown and hideous form of art. . . that probably exists only in Germany. It's a nasty fucking movie and is not for the faint of heart.
The plot goes a little like this - a guy works for "Joe's Streetcleaning Services", which means he is part of a crew that cleans up the human aftermath of car accidents. With each accident he cleans up, he brings home a little souvenir. An eyeball here, a hand there, an ear, an amorphous, blobby organ from time to time. He has a girlfriend who, from what we are lead to believe from the scene of her bathing in a tub full of blood, seems to be cool with it. In fact, kind of into it. In fact, WAY into it.
One day, he and his work crew buddies are called out to clean up the decomposing remains of a guy found in a small pond. The body is grey, rotting and terrifically gross, despite it's relatively obvious "fakeness". The main dude decides that it's time to bring his girlfriend a little sumthin' sumthin' to make her happy. So - the whole gooey body is popped into a bag and brought home for the Mrs and she immediately creates a substitute penis for the corpse out of some metal piping (complete with condom) - and so begins the graphic corpse humpfest that begat the film's title.
At this point my mom probably would have disowned me for watching this far. And I begin questioning myself as well. But it's for art's sake that I keep watching!
Oh, but it gets better. When the main dude gets fired from his job, his girlfriend becomes furious and decides that it's time to, as Robert Plant would say, "ramble on" - and she takes the dead guy with her. He kills his cat - which I really really hope was not real - and takes to sleeping underwater in his bathtub, eating cat guts, taking drugs and having weird dreams about throwing severed heads and guts around - you know, standard stuff.
This, of course, leads to his picking up prostitutes and schtupping them in the local graveyard, eventually killing them and then schtupping their dead bodies. You know, standard stuff. And on and on the murder and mayhem goes, with occasional bits of seemingly unrelated bits of animal cruelty and happy frolicking through meadows (for real) tossed in.
It's weird and it's yucky.
So here's the big question - as a horror movie, does it succeed? Well, what's the goal here? Is it to horrify, shock and nauseate the viewer? Then yes, I suppose it does. The scene where the (all too real and all too live) bunny is clobbered, stabbed, skinned and gutted is pretty nasty by itself - not to mention how it is part of a montage type scene where the main actor is methodically performing an autopsy on a dead guy (which is fake, but still pretty yucky). But if the goal is to entertain, be artistic and have some sort of statement - well that's where I'm iffy on success.
First off, I'm not sure what the statement is here, nor do I even think there is one. I truly think the point here was to push things as far as they could go. There were not a lot of "mainstream" films like this in 1987 - and frankly there aren't these days either. I think this is a good thing. The ending of the film is really fucked up. Like really fucked up.
And oddly very German.
I can't say that I was offended. I was weirded out and felt like I had a film over my entire body after watching it, but not really "offended". I don't think it should be banned and I'm not angry about any part of it - mmm, except for the rabbit. The film, like a lot of current French horror, is too heavy handed and tries way too hard. It's like The Exploited vs. Black Flag. The Exploited were far too "punk", with their mohawks, safety pins, bondage pants, songs about anarchy and Thatcher - it was comical and seemed planned and obvious. Black Flag on the other hand, was a bunch of skinny vegetarians in hand me down button ups who made music that was vicious and powerful. Not obvious at all.
I don't like the obvious. I never have and I still don't. The whole thing feels like it was written by 16 year olds who said to each other, "you know what would be gross...?". And to be sure, it is gross. It's super gross and it's fucking gnarly in concept and execution. But if your goal is to give someone a headache, it works better if you slowly tap away on one's head with a small hammer than it does by annihilating them with a 20 pound sledgehammer. That just obliterates you.
So - do I recommend Nekromantik? I think if you consider yourself a diehard horror fanatic, or just want to see something that will get a reaction out of you, then it's . . . well, something to see I guess. But if you're a casual fan whose taste is more along the lines of slasher films and bigger budget horror, I would not spend the time and effort tracking down a copy to watch.
And yes, there is a sequel.
- Complaint Dept