Nekromantik 2 Special Edition (1991) (DVD/Blu-ray film review)

December 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘Nekromantik 2’ is the 1991 sequel to Jörg Buttgereit’s cult low budget 1987 horror film ‘Nekromantik’. The original film tells the story of Rob, a necrophiliac who is able to obtain the objects of his desire through his job working for an agency that cleans up the scene after road traffic accidents. With the exception of this bit of good fortune, Rob is an utter failure at work, at home and with real live women. His frustration turns into anger and, ultimately, to murder followed by suicide. To be honest, it’s not the cheeriest film ever made.

nekromantik2

In ‘Nekromantik 2’, a direct sequel to the earlier film, Buttgereit focuses much more on the emotional side of the new story, with the explicit horror elements relegated to three or four specific scenes, making this a very different kind of film to its predecessor.

Arrow Films have produced this Special Edition Blu-ray and DVD to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s original release and have included a large amount of additional content beyond the film itself.

The story revolves around three main characters. Monika (played by Monika M) is a young and attractive nurse living in East Berlin shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She isn’t like other women, preferring to seek out romantic attachments in the graveyard rather than the discotheque. Indeed, her first scene in the film shows her locating the grave of Nekromantik’s lead character, Rob, whose suicide she read about in the local newspaper. She has brought a spade with her and proceeds to dig up Rob’s coffin, remove the body and take it home, where she gets lovingly intimate with the slowly decaying corpse.

However, a few days later on a solo visit to the local cinema, Monika meets Mark (played by Mark Reeder), a handsome but unassuming young man who has been stood up by his date. He offers Monika his spare ticket, they watch the film together, enjoy each other’s company and soon become a couple. Finding herself enjoying the novelty of a romantic and sexual relationship with a partner in possession of a pulse, Monika decides that it is time to put her unusual sexual proclivities behind her. Will a relationship with Mark fulfil her needs or is this attempt to conform denying a vital part of her identity?

‘Nekromantik 2’ is a really strange film to watch. At one end of the spectrum it includes deeply uncomfortable scenes of necrophilia, corpse dismemberment and cold-blooded murder. Yet, if you were to cut out three or four key scenes, the remainder of the film could be watched as a whimsical art-house story about the search for true love in a hostile and rapidly changing world. It’s certainly a horror movie but something like eighty per cent of the running time involves no explicit horror elements at all. I can understand why it has become a cult classic, helped no doubt by the German Government’s two year attempt to ban it for allegedly glorifying violence. However, I can also imagine an awful lot of hard-core horror fans walking out of the cinema in disgust at the preponderance of slow-moving romantic scenes and the limited evidence of blood and gore. The film is very much its own thing and for that director Jörg Buttgereit is to be applauded.

As I’ve said, the film is set in East Germany immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the many extras on the DVD is a nine minute piece to camera by an academic, explaining how the film’s plot forms a metaphor for the death of the two Germanys and the rebirth of a single country following reunification. It’s a fascinating and thoughtful reading of the film but this metaphor was certainly not the intention of the filmmakers. The reality, as explained with great humour by Jörg Buttgereit, Monika M, Mark Reeder and producer Manfred Jelinski during an excellent new 35 minute long ‘Making Of-’ documentary is far more prosaic. They had a very limited budget with which to make the film and it was much cheaper and easier to film in East Berlin than in West Berlin, so that’s what they did.

This Special Edition will be a real feast for fans of the film. It includes three discs: the film and all its supporting extras on both Blu-ray and DVD, plus an audio CD containing the complete score of the movie. The other extras on the Blu-ray and DVD include five new features specially produced for this release. These are a brief introduction to the film from the director, producer and two lead actors, an audio commentary by the same team, a nine minute walking tour of the East Berlin locations were the film was shot, showing how they’ve changed in the intervening period and a five minute interview with Mark Reeder where he explains his role in creating the film’s soundtrack. The final and most substantial of the new extras, though, is a 100 page book, entitled ‘Anatomy Of Desire’, which collects together three new and two historical essays about the film, lovingly surrounded by new artwork and archive stills. I’ve seen a pdf of this book and it’s a substantial and interesting read.

In addition to all these newly-commissioned features, there are another eight extras in the package, including a vintage ‘Making Of-’ documentary, an out-takes reel, footage from the twentieth anniversary showing of the film, where the score was performed live by Monika M and three friends, two short films and two music videos directed by Buttgereit, plus an image gallery, trailers for all of Buttgereit’s feature films and even five postcards showing key images from the film.

This is a film that certainly won’t appeal to everyone. You need a pretty strong stomach to watch some of the most explicit scenes, although to be fair to the director, none of them are gratuitous.

However, if you can excuse the subject matter, the film itself is genuinely engaging, largely due to the fresh-faced energy and enthusiasm of Monika M and Mark Reeder, who have a definite on-screen chemistry. The other stand-out feature of the Special Edition for me, beyond the sheer volume of material you get for your money, is the fun and humour on constant display throughout the added extras. You could have been forgiven for thinking, based on the subject matter, that the filmmakers and actors would be very serious people, if not distinctly odd. In actual fact, they turn out to be a remarkably normal group of people and it’s abundantly clear that cast and crew had a great time making the film and still have fond memories of it twenty-five years on. I should also say that the quality of the HD restoration is very high.

‘Nekromantik 2’ is an extremely odd film, even within the horror genre and my guess is that it has a Marmite-like polarising effect on viewers. To be honest, when I first heard about the new release I was deeply sceptical about reviewing it, given that I’d not watched the film before and only had the blurb to go on. However, having delved into the many aspects of the film covered in this package, I’ve changed my mind. If you’re interested in giving it a fair crack of the whip, I can’t imagine a better way to do so than by getting hold of this excellent, feature-packed Special Edition. Better hurry though, as it’s a limited edition release and I hear it’s selling very well indeed.

Patrick Mahon

December 2015

(pub: Arrow Films. 3 Blu-ray/DVD & CD discs. 103 minute film with extras. Rating: 18. Price: £27.99 (UK). Cat: FCD 1182.

cast: Monika M and Mark Reeder.

check out websites: www.arrowfilms.co.uk and http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/nekromantik-2-dual-format-blu-ray-dvd-ost-cd/

Category: Films, Horror, MEDIA

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