A stylish opening sequence reproduces the startling climax (pun intended!) from the first NEKROMANTIK - lead character and raging necrophile Rob's (Daktari Lorenz) bloody suicide. Shown here in black-and-white, it looks even better than it did first time around.
Moments later, we see a glamorous young lady, Monika (Monika M), making her way through a graveyard, shovel in hand. She rests at Rob's grave. Then starts digging. The troubled young lady takes Rob's corpse home and promptly sets about stripping his green torso so the pair of them can get it on …
Meanwhile, we're introduced to Mark (Mark Reeder) - a mild-mannered young man who works by day as a voice-over for porn films. He's clearly unhappy at his job, and is often criticised for not putting in enough effort.
Mark arranges a date with a young blonde, but she arrives late at the cinema where they've arranged to meet and Mark - neurotic about punctuality - decides to blow her out rather than miss the beginning of the film. Good man!
Consequently, he offers his absent date's spare ticket to a passing Monika.
After enduring the pitiful picture (My Dinner With Vera - an ill-advised attempt at humour by Buttgereit), Mark takes Monika back to his place and learns a little about her background (the fact that she's a nurse, lives alone in Berlin - although she conveniently leaves out the bit about liking to fuck dead people in her stinky little flat!).
The next day, we see Mark at his job - positively buzzing from the fumes of his fresh love!
OK, so the film takes a dip at this point while the relationship blossoms with some overwrought and unnecessarily drawn-out scenes of boy-girl bonding (sharing ice-creams; a trip to the zoo - urgh).
Before long though, Monika's back in her apartment, donning the marigolds and getting fresh with the rapidly decaying Rob. What follows is a wonderful piece of perverse art as Monika takes a handsaw to her mortally challenged lover, indulging in a spot of graphic dismemberment, decapitation, castration and disembowelment!
Presumably, this is all designed to severe ties with Rob and allow Monica to pursue her new relationship with 'living' (though incredibly dull) boyfriend, Mark. But old habits are hard to break, and the conclusion is definitely one worth hanging around for … the most spectacular gore scene Buttgereit has ever filmed!!
NEKROMANTIK 2 didn't make much sense to me the first time I saw it on video. As a big fan of the original, I considered this to be overlong, boring and pretentious in comparison. I still think it suffers from the latter - but most European cinema does, often in a complimentary way.
What struck me while watching this remastered print from Barrel was how well-shot and stylish the film actually is. And this alone prevented the film from ever being boring despite it's 103 minute running-time (a full half-hour longer than it's predecessor).
Aside from the above, this is arguably a better film than NEKROMANTIK in terms of having a bigger budget, better acting, better lighting, more ambitious camera-work and better music) although the original's score does feature occasionally.
Indeed, it's only when Buttgereit tries to recall the shock-tactics of the original that the film falters (the seal autopsy sequence serves no purpose other than to repel really).
And there are inconsistencies here that do tend to annoy. Mark gets up early in Monika's apartment one morning, and finds a severed penis wrapped in cling film in her fridge. He barely reacts!!
And, what was the point in re-introducing Betty (Beatrice M) from the first movie, when she has so little to do (you'll see what I mean)?!
Overall though, this is a film that is ripe for re-evaluating - I for one have grossly undervalued it in the past and must say it held my attention completely this time around.
Sure, some of the ideas are pretentious (the dying flowers at Rob's grave; the impromptu music video with Monika singing). But there are many, many scenes and bold images along the way that more than compensate for these minor follies - Mark hanging naked in Monika's bedroom, the corpse in the bath, the opening grave-digging scene etc.
Look out for Schramm (Florian Koerner von Gustorf) in a minor role as a drunk too!
The disc from Barrel Entertainment is yet another contender for Genre DVD of the Year!
The picture quality is superb - digitally mastered from the original cinema negative. It looks way better even than Barrel's NEKROMANTIK or SCHRAMM releases. Incredibly sharp, clear and bright compared to previous incarnations. My only gripe (hardly) was that the dual layer crossover is very blatant circa chapter 23.
Sound is available in either the original German Mono, or a 2.0 Stereo remix. Both are consistently reliable - the latter being particularly strong. English subtitles are removable, and in yellow for easy readability.
The extras on Disc 1 (yeah, it's a 2 disc set!!!) are brilliant.
First off, the main menu page hits you in the face with a bright blue collage of animated gory episodes from the film. Superb!
The commentary from director Jorg Buttgereit, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen and actors Monika M and Mark Reeder is filled with broken English anecdotes and much laughter, but interesting nonetheless. Reeder speaks with an American accent.
The Making Of … is 25 minutes long, and is basically the same kind of behind-the-scenes footage that was offered on the NEKROMANTIK and SCHRAMM discs. Nice to see (especially the insight into the shocking final effect …).
The trailers for all four of Buttgereit's features are here - NEKRO 1 & 2; SCHRAMM; DER TODESKING (please release this soon, Barrel!).
There's an abundance of stills from the film's production that are mildly diverting in a 'view-once-only' type of way. And a German radio interview with the director and co-author, which is slightly less jokey (yet no less informative) than the commentary track. It's in German, but has been blessed with English subtitles …
MANNE: THE MUWI is yet another early 8mm short that Barrel have decided to remaster and subtitle in English (it's crap). Why, oh why, won't they give us HOT LOVE - which is surely what we all want?!
There's also a music promo for DIE KRUPPS featuring Monika M, which looks like it was shot on a budget of approximately $10.
Finally, the usual liner notes from biographer David Kerekes and Buttgereit himself (who amusingly celebrates the fact that he won a court a case in Germany, declaring the film to be art). Couldn't find any Easter Eggs this time around though …?!
This initial run (limited to 20,000) even comes with a bonus disc - the entire soundtrack to both NEKROMANTIK films, plus a few extra tracks (31 in total).
The discs come in a black Amaray-style packaging, with a fold-out booklet enclosed. The film itself has 28 chapters.
Well-packaged, beautifully presented and with extras that only Barrel would conceivably strive for … this is a fantastic release of a film that has remained under-rated for far, far too long.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Barrel|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|Stacks! see main review|