Sometimes, you’ve got to shock yourself. Sometimes, you’ve got to push yourself to the limit. That’s as true for film as it is for your body’s endurance. Occasionally, I’ll test my boundaries by watching an extreme horror film! A month ago, it was Cannibal Holocaust. This past Tuesday, I settled down with my breakfast and watched Nekromantik. If you haven’t heard of it before, it involves around a threesome involving a corpse. Your reaction to that sentence will decide whether or not this film is for you!
In the first ten minutes of the film, we see the aftermath of a horrific car crash, a real rabbit being skinned and gutted, and a (fake) dissection of a human body. Trust me, that’s only the tip of the iceberg! The plot revolves around Rob. Rob and wife/partner Betty are necrophiliacs. Conveniently, Rob works for Joe’s Cleaning Agency. This Agency clears up dead bodies (and the workers clean up without gloves on!). He brings home eyes, hands, and other body parts. However, on one job he comes across a complete corpse…so decides to bring that home. Of course, they have a threesome with the corpse, using the end of a broomstick with a condom on as a makeshift penis! Rob loses his job, Betty splits up with him (and takes the corpse…), and Rob spirals into depression.
I don’t want to spoil any more than that, but the threesome involving the corpse is the most controversial thing about the film. However, there’s more disturbing stuff occurring during Rob’s depression. You’ll find out if you watch it (or know if you have watched it). But one important scene sees our Rob going to a seedy theatre to watch a horror film. In the film, a woman is being chased by a maniac. When he catches up with her, he begins to stab her and torture her. Her screams fill the auditorium, but the audience seem non-plussed. A couple even seem to be getting aroused over it! Here, director Jörg Buttgereit visually states his modus operandi: he wants to shock the desensitized masses. He tackles necrophilia by filming the threesome exactly like a sex scene in a softcore porno. Rape, murder, torture…they were all staples of horror films in the 1980s. Buttgereit wanted to really push the boundaries.
He succeeded (in a way). I have a strong stomach, and I grimaced a few times during the threesome (once was when Rob sucked out corpse’s eye, rolled it around his mouth a few times, and popped it back into the socket!). For a low-budget film, the corpse looks very, very convincing (and the eye was actually a pig’s eye!!!). The real rabbit dissection was also difficult to watch. Later scenes provoked and prodded me (the ending is something to behold…for all the wrong reasons!), but I found myself bored for the majority of the film.
“I’ve got something for you”
As with most of these low-budget exploitation schlock films, the amateur nature of the entire film makes some of it laughable. For one, the acting on the whole is terrible. Rob and Betty are convincing during the threesome, but when Rob has to carry the film on his own, he doesn’t emote or act very well. As the entire film centres around him, it causes the viewer to lose attention and “sympathy” (if you can sympathise with a necrophiliac…) for Rob. Yes, he’s enduring an emotional/existential crisis, but if we can’t believe that, then what’s the point?
In The 50 Most Disturbing Movies of All Time on www.complex.com (click here for the list!), Nekromantik is listed as 2! Yes, number 2! It’s higher than films such as I Spit On Your Grave, Antichrist, Cannibal Holocaust, A Serbian Film and Audition! I found most of the named films more disturbing than Nekromantik. The main centrepiece is the threesome involving a corpse, and that was rather disturbing. But the level of disgust relies on your perception of necrophilia, I guess. I tolerated the scene much more than I anticipated, however. But from that point on, it seems like Buttgereit doesn’t know where to go from that point…so just tries to shock and disgust us by any means necessary. But credit where credit’s due: Buttgereit took on one of cinema’s last taboos and splurged it onto the screen.
VERDICT: 5/10. Buttgereit tries (and succeeds) to shock us, again and again. But after a threesome involving a corpse, he’s pretty much pushed boundaries of taste to the limit. After that, it becomes a chore to watch.
What did you think of Nekromantik (1987)? Leave your thoughts/comments below!
Click here for my review of Cannibal Holocaust (1980)