Der Todesking

Dir: Jorg Buttgereit
Star: Nicolas Petche, Hermann Kopp, Heinrich Ebber

[6] In 1988, Nekromantik crashed onto the scene, provoking acclaim, disgust and bewilderment in equal amounts by its tender portrayal of necrophilia. Two years on, Jorg's back - has he mellowed? Well... 'The King of Death' is a collection of segments, one for each day of the week, each of which depict a facet of death. Monday, for example, has a suicide by overdoes and Thursday is about a bridge and the people that have jumped from it. These segments are linked by time-lapse photography of a corpse decaying - very Peter Greenaway! The soundtrack also provokes comparison, sounding impressively like Michael Nyman on a bad trip.

As with other 'compilation' films, the result is uneven. On their own, the segments are mainly intriguing and shocking - Tuesday was my personal favourite, being laced with poisonous irony and a delightful parody of Ilsa, She-wolf of the S.S. (especially remarkable given Buttgereit's nationality). This is the only time it plumbs the depths of taste as explicitly as Nekromantik did, the others concentrate more on generating atmosphere (with success) and less on blatant shock tactics. The overall effect, isn't quite as impressive. After a while, apathy starts to set in, and the episodes become blurred - was that Friday or Saturday? The links between the days (where they exist at all) are at best tenuous, and at worst annoying. A couple of the later sequences are, let's be honest, disappointing and smack of padding - "we've still got two days left to fill, folks!". Overall, however, it's a relentlessly depressing movie, perhaps a little too much so. Appreciate it best by watching it one day per day - thet way it'll ruin your whole week...


Death becomes them
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