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Film Poster
Directed by Jörg Buttgereit
Produced by Manfred O. Jelinski
Written by Jörg Buttgereit
Franz Rodenkirchen
Starring Daktari Lorenz
Beatrice Manowski
Harald Lundt
Music by Hermann Kopp
Daktari Lorenz
John Boy Walton
Cinematography Uwe Bohrer
Editing by Jörg Buttgereit
Manfred O. Jelinski
Release date(s) 1987
Running time 75 min.
Country  West Germany
Language German
Followed by Nekromantik 2

NEKRomantik is a 1987 German horror film directed by Jörg Buttgereit. This frequently controversial movie, banned in a number of countries, has become a cult film over the years due to its transgressive subject matter (including necrophilia) and audacious imagery. A documentary, Corpse Fucking Art, which used footage shot during the making of this film, Der Todesking and Nekromantik 2 was released in 1991.


Plot and Synopsis

This film centers on Rob Schmadtke, the tragic hero, who works for “Joe’s Cleaning Agency”, a company that removes bodies from public areas. This job leaves him the perfect opportunity to pursue his full-time hobby: necrophilia. He returns home from his job to his apartment and girlfriend, Betty. He plays with his assortment of preserved human remains and watches television while Betty takes a bath in blood laden water. Rob then enters a daydream of a young lop rabbit being caught on a farm and graphically slaughtered. He then returns to work and discovers his new obsession, a whole rotting corpse. It is discovered in a pond and during the removal process Rob absconds with it. He excitedly returns home to Betty like a husband returning with a romantic gift for his awaiting wife. They immediately cut a steel pipe and put a condom over it so Betty will have a phallus to straddle during their “ménage a trois”. This is immediately followed by a jump shot of grilling meat which is never established as either human or not. Betty and Rob dine and converse while watching their new "toy" hang on the wall while plates collect the fluids that drip out. Rob goes to work the next day to be confronted by his coworkers who are tired of him leaving his dirty suit to fester in his locker and for his constant tardiness. After being bullied up the stairs to his boss he is fired. The film then jumps to Betty in the apartment, reading a love story to the corpse. She asks the corpse if it could feel the love in the story and begins to straddle the face of the corpse. When Rob returns he informs Betty of his termination and she berates him for his failure as well as the fact that he did not stand up for himself. He comes home later and finds that Betty has left and has taken the corpse. In a violent outburst he kills their cat and bathes with its blood and entrails in the tub while the body hangs over the tub. He then leaves to go see a film and after being bullied by a fellow movie-goer leaves to go back to his apartment. Once there he attempts suicide with pills and whiskey. He begins to drift into a dream where he emerges from a garbage bag as a partially decaying Rob. He is soon greeted by a woman in white who gives him a corpse's head and they begin to dance, tossing the head and entrails of a body back and forth. Once he wakes up he leaves his apartment and hires a prostitute. They go to a cemetery where he strangles her and then has sex with her corpse. He is startled as he awakes beside her with an old man standing over them. Rob grabs the man’s shovel and chops the old man's head off. This is followed by Rob running along the coast. The film closes with Rob’s suicide. A grisly "climax" to the film which is composed of Rob stabbing himself while ejaculating. This scene is filled with flashbacks to the rabbit slaughter seen earlier in the film but in reverse. In a final ironic twist, we see Rob's gravestone until a woman starts digging him up.

Interpretations and Criticism

This film has taken harsh criticism for its content and subject matter but some believe that it is meant as a rather serious social commentary the denaturalization and dehumanization of contemporary society as a whole. Society is presented as something that, despite nurturing Rob’s existence, begins to destroy his soul and drive him to avenues of perversion as a means of having some sort of control over something in his life.[citation needed]

His life has these two parts to it: The larger society that pushes him around and his fantasy world of necrophilia which he has control over. His job at the body disposal company is evidence of the former. There he is no one and is pushed around by his other coworkers who abuse him for his fault. The latter is a world where he is somewhat of a puppet master who has complete control of his universe and can have a relationship free of abuse and ridicule with the corpse. These two worlds collide when he is fired from his job, destroying the denaturalizing world that allowed him to create his own fantasy world. This inevitably causes his self created world to collapse as well as his mental state. This leaves Rob alone and desperate and eventually dead by his own will. His personal world is emphasized heavily by the use of music.[citation needed]


The music of this film is heavily minimalistic and is repetitious. This gives the feeling of Rob existing in his own personal "protective cave". This music is often upbeat which helps foster and build on the already gross sense of perversion in the film. This is very noticeable in two scenes using the song "ménage a trois" by John Boy Walton. This is shown during the first time that Rob and Betty have sex with the corpse as well as during the suicide of Rob. This juxtaposition helps to create a feeling of perversion in the viewer. This is because the violence naturally causes one to be filled with repulsion and disgust. These feelings are clashed by feelings of happiness and optimism causing the viewer to feel a sense of inner perversion for having these happier feelings.

References in other media

A sample taken from the slasher movie-within-the-movie can be heard in Nine Inch Nails' song "Reptile" from their Downward Spiral album.

In the Daktari Lorenz-produced video, Bettie and Nadine, music used in Nekromantik can be heard in the background of the scene where Bettie Ballhaus and Nadine Jansen are watching television together.

The film has spawned a sequel, Nekromantik 2, by the same director.

External links

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