Nekromantik (1987)Crack open a cold one and enjoy.
The most disturbing factor of NEKRomantik is that the director manages to take the concept of "you can't fuck without a stiff" and triggers a heartbreaking emotional response. For an obvious low-budget affair, the music, the visuals and the pained character development adequately portrays a tale of love, lust, loss and disheartenment. This daytime drama is shrewdly disguised as a dirty love triangle between a professional corpse disposer, his perverted live-in lady and a rotting human carcass found at the bottom of a pond.
The passions run deep when lover boy loses his corpse disposal job and wifey decides that she wants to start a new life with the cadaver and leave her loser boyfriend behind. With nothing but a dead cat for sexual gratification, the anguish, anger, heartbreak and total mental breakdown of the scorned Robert Schmadtke is explored in a most distasteful manner. Being able to show a further mental degradation of a man whose definition of "cracking open a cold one after work" is engaging in sexual activities with his girlfriend, a corpse and a condom-sheathed makeshift dildo is no easy task but Buttgereit manages to effectively portray this with a combination of inappropriate music, distasteful montages and a hefty dose of blood, guts and rabbit cruelty.
The soundtrack is either a work of cerebrally charged genius or an accidental consequence of spending 24 years in Berlin and being twentysomething in the eighties. The musical accompaniment spans incongruously placed, uplifting band music, through scenes such as necrophilia and self mutilation, to a cranial aneurysm inducing cacophony of sounds akin to a cat choking on bees. This deftly creates a distinctive atmosphere, whether that atmosphere is one of blatant disgust or mixed moral opinions.
The artistic relevance of NEKRomantik is debateable. Buttgereit is obviously trying to be transgressive with noise and imagery conflicting the ethical viewpoints of the viewer but there is a defined storyline and an emotional (yet fairly shallow) journey portrayed which gives this work much more kudos as a movie compared to primitive sensory attack provided by movies such as Slaughtered Vomit Dolls or the blatant shock and distaste attempted by movies such as Autumn Underground. In the genre of extreme horror, NEKRomantik attempts to create an poignant and possibly arousing buy-in from the viewer and succeeds quite lucratively despite some obvious crowbarred in interactions from the characters outside of the main love triangle. Most noticeably the origins of the seductive corpse are rendered in an almost slapstick manner with the expectation of a troop of Benny Hill girls to start chasing the guy with the corpse in the wheelbarrow. Unfortunately this doesn't happen.
NEKRomantik attempts to be a controversial look at the dehumanisation and the desensitisation of humanity but this is only subtly hinted at near the beginning of the film while Betty watches the news from her blood filled bath. The deep and meaningful message is easily missed as the love aspect is too obtrusive and the simpler meaning to glean from the story is that sicko's live behind many closed doors. NEKRomantik is a sardonic look at the degradation of people in developed society given impact and bulk with a rather repulsive perversion and the courage to explore some taboo subjects.