13th Dec2014

“Nekromantik’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf


Some films are created to convey a message.  They aren’t made to be loved, and may not actually be that good but they still get a cult following because of what they represent to the audience they are aimed at.  Nekromantik is a film that has a certain infamy about it, especially in the United Kingdom as it first made its way into cinemas during the age of the Video Nasty and was never officially released.  Attempts to get it into the country could even get you a not so nice letter warning you that you’d been very naughty for even trying to obtain a copy.  Now finally released uncut, which is quite a shocking pass by the BBFC,  Arrow Video have released it on Blu-ray for all to see.

Nekromantik is the story of Rob Schamdtke (Daktari Lorenz) a cleaner who deals with the aftermath of grisly accidents.  This gives him access to body parts, which he likes to collect in his home.  When he manages to take home a complete corpse, he finds that his wife Betty (Beatrice Manowski) enjoys the corpse a lot more than she enjoys him, and promptly moves out taking her new lover with her, leading to things in his life getting even more bizarre.

If I was to meet somebody who thought this was the best movie ever made I may start to worry about them, but if they told me they merely like it, I think I would be more understanding of their stance on it.  Just watching the special features on the Blu-ray it is evident that Nekromantik has its fans and in some part, I think I am one of them, but simply for what it represents rather than quality.

The film itself is something of a middle finger raised to the censorship in the country where it was made, which was Germany.  In many ways it continues to have that attitude to censors in any country that it has been seen, no matter how uncut they allow it to be.  There are scenes of violence and cruelty that have little meaning to the plot, and they test just what you can take in the form of entertainment.

Looking at how much I can take, I will state that I prefer not to see animal cruelty, and by that I mean real cruelty shown on the screen, not cases that are obviously fake.  There is a scene in Nekromantik that infamously had people leaving the cinema in its first UK showing, and while I would not have left I would still have hated the fact that the scene is in the movie, I guess that is a warning that yes, that scene is graphic and I in the film with little reason, though most of the film is created with the same lack of cohesive thought anyway.

Getting past that scene the rest of the film was at an extreme level, but I actually liked the levels it was aiming at.  Some parts have an arty feel to them, others are far from that but if Nekromantik manages to be anything it is a punk film, fighting against the established morality that censorship appears to enforce in our movies.  Just looking at how the BBFC seems to be getting stricter in the UK that the level of censorship is being raised yet again, and what should this censorship be protecting us from? At this point who knows, but when they allow Nekromantik past uncut they have a mixed message where they show that they understand the outlandish nature of a movie like this, where in other cases they completely misunderstand the difference between reality and the fictional world.

Arrow Video have done the best they can with the picture quality of Nekromantik but you can’t expect a perfect picture from the source, which was never made to be full high definition.  This grittiness works with a film like Nekromantik though that thrives in the Grindhouse feel.  The special features include Jörg Buttgereit’s short films Hot Love and Horror Heaven alongside Nekromantik, commentary and plenty of documentaries that look at the background of the film and its impact on the world of film.  This makes for an excellent release, even if the movie was never going to achieve full stars (though the disc is worth that score just for presentation).

As a fan of extreme cinema Nekromantik is a film that I was always going to watch, even if I find certain scenes distasteful (due to animal cruelty).  The fact is films like this are made to push our limits, and Nekromantik to its credit definitely manages to still do that with the audience.  Is it a good film? Well I don’t know about that, but the Arrow Video release definitely gives it the love a true cult film like this deserves.

****½  4/5

Nekromantik is available in a special edition dual-format Blu-ray & DVD, which also includes the soundtrack, from December 15th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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