Nekromantik 2 (1991)

Rating: B+

Dir: Jorg Buttgereit
Star: Monika M, Mark Reeder, Simone Sporl, Wolfgang Muller

Nekromantik 2 isn’t Nekromantik 2 – it’s more like Love Story.”
   — Jorg Buttgereit, October 1991

[11] Jorg Buttgereit is very anxious that N2 is not seen as “a gore film”. He’s partly right – while there’s none of the fantasy element prevalent in most horror, this is still closer to the splatter movie than any other genre. It begins with the suicide of Daktari Lorenz, as shown at the end of Nekromantik, but he’s not allowed to rest in peace. As the final shot of the original movie suggested, he’s dug up by a female necrophile (Monika M) and used as a sex object. This brings the corpse into conflict with her boyfriend (Mark Reeder), who’s worried about his girl – little things, like her insistence he doesn’t move when they’re having sex and the presence of some very odd stuff in the fridge…

It’s effectively the same basic idea, viewed from a completely different angle. Sensibly, with everyone ‘knowing’ what to expect this time round, the makers avoided slavishly remaking the original. In some ways the two films are mirror images: while the original was very much a tragedy, the sequel is more upbeat – although he dies 30 seconds into N2, Daktari Lorenz finally gets the relationship he wants! Masculine becomes feminine, with most of the film told from Monika M’s point of view, and the death?ending in the original is replaced by the creation of a new life, with one last twist of the knife which hints at a further sequel, though this isn’t currently planned. Technically, the sequel is obviously more advanced in most areas, right down to the soundtrack, which is available on CD this time, rather than vinyl!

Jorg is developing a recognisable style and there are elements in N2 that will be familiar from his other work. A 360 degree circular pan and a “bridge shot” are very reminiscent of Der Todes King and the film-within-a-film theme appears again, with another of the spoof movies included in all three features to date. The scene where the near-mute heroine dismembers a corpse in the bathtub and wraps the bits in plastic bags echoes Angel of Vengeance, which seems to be a favourite film of Jorg’s judging from this, and the scene in Der Todes King almost directly copied from Ferrara’s movie.

The direction of N2 is slow and documentary in style, almost real-time on occasion, in what Buttgereit says is a reaction to the current wave of lightning-fast, pop-video visuals, as seen in the Hong Kong movies. This is occasionally carried too far, and a sharper editing hand might have helped the overall coherency as several scenes make their point and then meander on regardless. Odd touches of grubby realism abound, and add to the gritty atmosphere, for example, the men always keep their socks on, whether they’re alive, dead or having sex!

The tone occasionally lightens, with some black humour which helps make the film more watchable than the original. Beatrice M, the girlfriend from Nekromantik, returns to dig up the corpse of her old flame, only to find she’s been beaten to it, and the scene where Mark Reeder discovers a clingfilm wrapped penis in the fridge is a classic. However, the question of how his girlfriend explains this away is never answered, one of several slightly annoying such omissions.

However, N2 generally hangs together well, and there are dark hints of things outside the scope of the film, like a group of lady necrophiles who gather to watch dodgy videos (anyone who didn’t like the rabbit-killing in the original will NOT enjoy this scene. Though probably less cruel, it’s even grosser and, I reckon, more gratuitous). There are also various in?jokes to spot: the director in a cinema audience, some Karen Greenleigh artwork (the female necrophile interviewed in Apocalypse Culture), a Jelinski gravestone in the cemetery and a statue of a girl leading a monkey that curiously echoes the posture of the couple walking past it.

It may be slicker and prettier than the original, but the feel remains the same. Buttgereit & Jelinski basically don’t give a damn about their films finding an audience, and make the films they want – in these days, where the horror film is becoming ever more sanitised, Nekromantik 2 is a brave antidote to the waves of carefully researched Hollywood products.