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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

A still from Nekromantik (1987)


1987 | West Germany | 71 min
  • Watched on Fri Feb 5, 2021 via Blu-ray
    D-: 2 stars (out of 5)

    As much as I’d like to dismiss it, Nekromantik isn’t trash. It’s too damn self-aware and well-executed. It’s also the first film to make me gag since the toilet bowl scene in Trainspotting.

    The story follows Rob, who works cleanup for hazardous accidents involving corpses. He and his live-in girlfriend Betty harbor a penchant for viscera and he sneaks home hearts, eyeballs and other organs. When an opportunity presents to steal an entire corpse, Rob seizes the advantage and soon he and Betty are engaged in three-ways with a putrefying cadaver. Unfortunately for Rob, this domestic bliss detracts from work and he soon finds himself unemployed. Worse still, Betty soon leaves him, taking the corpse with her.

    Shot on 8mm, it feels equal parts guerrilla documentary and home movie. This modest presentation enhances the already top-notch special effects. A modern 4k camera might have betrayed the artifice during the scene where Rob reaches into a cat’s stomach, pulls out its innards, and rubs them all over his face; but I couldn’t see the seams. Cue the gag reflex.

    But the film transcends mere shock. In one scene, a despondent Rob visits a cinema. On screen, a masked killer stalks a screaming blonde co-ed. But Nekromantik focuses on the audience, mainly couples, who appear aroused by the violence. A frustrated Rob soon storms out. It’s an ingenious bit of meta-commentary that forced me to reappraise my view of the film. Why do I find imaginary violence against humans entertaining, yet feel repulsed by necrophilia?

    Lest you think the film takes itself too seriously, know it builds to a Grand Guignol finale that seared itself into my mind’s eye involving blood, semen, and a giant artificial penis. It also packs a surprisingly effective soundtrack.

    So I’m torn. I didn’t enjoy Nekromantik. but it resonated. I’ve no urge to watch it again, save in a crowded theater with folks new to the film. Two stars feels right, but think twice before watching.

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