Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme

Jörg Buttgereit’s follow up to his 1987 shocker NEKROMANTIK kicks off immediately where its predecessor left off, with the camera following the actions of the female necrophiliac last seen forcing a shovel with a long heeled stocking clad leg into the grave of suicide, Rob (Daktari Lorenz). Audience expectation is foiled when we discover that the grave robber is not Rob’s former lover Betty (Beatrice M.) but frustrated nurse Monika (Monika M.) who has been following the story of Rob and his necrophile antics closely in the Berlin press.

Following her arduous task, Monika finally manages to drag her new playmate back to her flat, and immediately sets about lovingly caressing, kissing, and then cleaning Rob’s corpse before attempting to make love to it which results in her vomiting violently. Monika’s twisted world is still incomplete; she has little interest in sharing her life or internal thoughts with the world around her, and due to a series of failed sexual relationships, and an obsession with internal organs and death, believed that necrophilia would have granted her the sexual high she has never attained.

Monika strikes up a friendship with Mark (Mark Reeder) who makes a living by dubbing sex scenes – they strike up a perverse relationship that involves the couple watching bizarre movies and indulging in sex sessions in which Mark is forced to perform motionless. Thinking she has finally found her ideal partner, Monika dismembers Rob’s corpse keeping only the head and severed penis as mementos (the later is dutifully wrapped in cling film and stored in the fridge).

Meanwhile, Rob is growing increasingly concerned with Monika’s strange habits that also include taking Polaroids of Mark in scenes that simulate him as murder victim. When he arrives one evening to watch Monika and a few equally eccentric women watching a film depicting the slaughter and disembowelment of a sea lion, Mark is shocked and decides to finish their relationship.

Monika is left to wander the promenade and ponder on her life and unfulfilled love, whilst Mark too begins to suffer the pangs of their relationship’s breakdown. He reneges on his decision and a rendezvous with Monika is arranged, with unexpected results. Despite NEKROMANTIK 2 traversing the same transgressions of the first film, director Buttgereit breaks with conventional ‘horror’ film tradition by presenting its story from a feminine viewpoint, delaying the terror aspects until the final reel, and essentially making the film a romance (albeit a perverse one). The pretence and reaction to necrophilia is only conveyed through the eyes of a necrophile therefore we are subjected to the entire process as if it were perfectly natural. Love, or the steps one takes to achieve our heart’s desire comes at the expense of hard work, frustration, and emotional upheaval. The film’s opening sequence involving Monika’s desecration of Rob’s grave is prolonged and fraught with tension. Digging graves is tiresome, and the director shoots these scenes in detail, Monika is seen taking breaks between her digging of the soil, pausing to calm her nerves by smoking a cigarette, wiping the sweat from her brow, and cautiously anticipating the arrival of an unwanted intruder. Buttgereit’s direction of this intense scene is sublime. Monika has dressed for her rendezvous alluringly, with long black stockings, short skirt, and bright red lipstick. Fortunately for her, only a small wren observes her actions, as he too eagerly anticipates a positive outcome to the scenario, though in his case it’s just a meal of recently unearthed worms, but Buttgereit’s camera lingers on the bird’s dark eyes, which represent the audience as judgemental voyeur to an event over which we have no control. We are witness to a new cinematic transgression; a woman desecrating a grave in order to steal the corpse for sexual fulfilment – the body could be ours, and like Rob’s corpse, we as uncomprehending “bird” observer are helpless to do take any action. All relationships involve effort, and so the scenes involving the defilement of Rob’s corpse by his loving attendant are depicted in laborious detail.

Gorehounds have complained that NEKROMANTIK 2 is slow moving, but that was exactly the director’s intention. Buttgereit doesn’t have much respect for the stereotypical horror fan-boy whom he refers to, in an accompanying “Making of” documentary, as “lonely men wearing black raincoats”, and instead decided to defy audience expectation with a carefully constructed view of ‘outsider’ love, complete with trips to the zoo, a lengthy discussion between two nudists seated at a table full of eggs concerning ornithology, (depicted as a “film within a film” and possibly intended to parallel fellow film fans obsessive discussions concerning the merits of various slasher flicks), and Buttgereit even throws in a surreal ballad in which Monika M. sings to the accompaniment of a grey-flannel suited pianist!

With Monika M. in captivating form as the intelligent, but lonely soul in search of that illusive “orgasm” she, in many ways, can be seen as representative of Buttgereit’s ‘lonely’ male audience, except in the heroine’s case, she doesn’t just sit back watching transgressive films all day, she decides to do something about it. Perhaps this is why male viewers find the film distressing? Why predominantly male/right wing censorship authorities deem the film so endangering to the public? And why feminists have welcomed this subversive piece of trash “art” into their collective bosom? Whatever the reason, NEKROMANTIK 2 stands as one of the most provocative ‘horror’ movies of the past 25 years – as the director points out in the DVD liner notes “It’s your turn now, to fall in love with Monika”, settle down for an assured piece of filmmaking with your favourite tipple – Oh and make sure it’s a stiff one, ‘cos you’re definitely gonna need it!

This new Barrel Entertainment release has been digitally re-mastered from the original camera negative with a Sprit DataCine high definition film scanner under the supervision of producer Manfred O. Jelinski. The film has never looked better and Barrel have pulled out all the stops with the inclusion of a new Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix together with the film’s original mono track. With an abundance of extras you are advised to pick up one of these limited edition pressings (just 20K have been issued) which include a bonus CD containing the soundtracks of both films.

Carl T. Ford

Directed by Jörg Buttgereit

German language with optional English subtitles
Germany / 1991 / 103 minutes

Audio commentary by Jörg Buttgereit, Franz Rodenkirchen, Monika M. and Mark Reeder
25 "Making Of" Behind the Scenes Footage German Radio interviews with Jörg Buttgereit and Franz Rodenkirchen, with English subtitles
"Rise Up" video by Die Krupps, features Monika M. and directed by Buttgereit Manne: The Muwi, an early Buttgereit Super-8 short subtitled in English for the first time
Outtakes Reel
Over 100 behind the scenes photos from the collection of Manfred O. Jelinski and Jörg Buttgereit
Theatrical trailers for Nekromantik, Der Todesking, Nekromantik 2, and Schramm
Liner notes by Buttgereit biographer, David Kerekes and Jörg Buttgereit

Soundtrack CD containing the complete scores for Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2

A Barrel Entertainment DVD Release All Region / NTSC / New Stereo Mix and Original Mono soundtrack / 1.33:1


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