Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nekromantik (1987)


Fear 1/5
Gore 5/5
Creepiness 5/5
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.

Seriously.

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

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

16 comments:

Emily said...

I'll get to this one eventually. I have no enthusiasm to do so, but it's inevitable. And I'm about 99% sure I'll echo most of your thoughts here.

Drunketh said...

You said, "The whole thing feels like it was written by 16 year olds who said to each other, "you know what would be gross...?"." It probably was. Jorg was only something like 24 when he directed it, and judging by his interviews the guy is very young at heart.

Cortez The Killer said...

I remember you 'recommeding' this one to me. And I'll be honest, I don't think I got all the way through it.

The meticulous nature in which she prepared the corpse for boom boom fucky fucky and then proceeded to get down. Ick!

zenski said...

My understanding is that, for pure shock value, the sequel leaves this one in the dust. Personally I've passed on both of them, and you're a better and braver man than I am, Cortez, for taking the plunge.

Josh said...

As nasty and offensive as this movie is, I do think there is a point to it. The main actor is basically a schmuck, that gets abused, and bullied by the people in his life. So with the corpses he feels a bit more powerful and in control. When that is taken away from him, he really starts to lose it, and tries to replace that feeling. I may be reading too much into it, but that's kinda my take on this disgusting film.

Jenn said...

I've loved this movie for years. I have the autographed poster in my Halloween bathroom. And I always used to like to show it to my non-horror movie people because they would just be like, WTF? I like doing that with AFTERMATH, too. Good post.

Carl (ILHM) said...

Despite all of the nastiness and grossouts, I honestly feel there is a dark character study at work underneath it all. It was no doubt made to shock and repulse audiences, but I dont feel that this one is entirely thoughtless. The second one, however..

Eric M. said...

Great write up. You certainly nailed the film. The version I saw had horrible subtitles. Made it almost impossible to understand. I have always wondered about another one of Jorg's films called "The Death King".

Theron said...

God, I'd forgotten all about "needing" to see this. Thanks?

Strange Kid said...

This has been one of the only films that have remained "taboo" for me... and evidently with good reason. I've heard the stories and seen (some) images, but have never gotten the guts (no pun intended) to actually watch it.

I suppose its inevitable, though. Just need to make sure I have a hot shower waiting on me afterwards to wash away the filth. Great review BTW.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Ive never seen this movie precisely for the reasons you have stated above, its an exercise in shock cinema, and that is its only purpose. Still, I like to feel a wave of shock every once in a while and thats probably the only reason I will probably watch this one some day.

the jaded viewer said...

Given this was filmed in 1987 and older horror fans saw it in the 90s, it was a shock film that was actually shocking. The cover is brilliant and the artsy fartsy-ness covers up the fact you are watching a movie about NECROPHILIA.

Buttgereit and his fellow German auteurs (Schnaas and Ittenbach) came on the scene with german splatter.

Also, the sequel's ending is one of the biggest WTF moments ever. See his other movies esp Schramm.

Bryce Wilson said...

"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."

Damn Skippy

Hold Me Matt said...

In the special features of STREET TRASH, Jorg says: "Street Trash was like my movie, only entertaining and funny - I really like it."

I haven't searched ur blog yet, but if you've missed reviewing Street Trash, it's a gem.

Grey @ The dARk HOurs Horror Podcast said...

This is an interesting movie that brings up and interesting point. Does this movie deserve to be seen? Does it have artistic or entertainment value worthy of being seen? That line is so thin sometimes. I remember watching Martyrs and being sick to my stomach at some points and wanting to turn it off, but at the end I was glad to have seen it and felt that the movie had provided something. In the same vein I have never seen Cannibal Holocaust for the reason I didn't know if there was a reason for me to. What is shock for shock's sake? Who knows with art? Its all so subjective.

Death-Face said...

I dont need a movie to have any artistic merit to enjoy it and shock for shocks sake is fine by me, sickening gore gets two thumbs up from me.

Nekromantic does deserve to be seen as it does have artistic merit and shock and gore, it is hellish hard to watch in places but thats part of it's charm, you just have to see what happens next. And it's useful to see just how perverted you are. Are you turned on by the thought of having sex with a rotting corpse? I felt glad that I never felt even a stirring of lust during the film. And even if I did so what? I was surprised at how tender the sexual scenes were, they did in fact make love to the corpse. Quite sweet really.

Not a film for everyone but then no film suits everyone. I hated Forest Gump for instance but I loved ET...