Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Cult Epics

The "corpse fucking art" of Jörg Buttgereit gets the deluxe treatment with Cult Epics' four Blu-ray/two CD collection SEX MURDER ART.

NEKROMANTIK (Disc One): Failed medical student Rob Schmadtke's (Bernd Daktari Lorenz) attempt to desensitize himself to death with a job at Joe's Street Cleaning Agency – scrubbing the roadsides of accident victims – turns into necrophilia when he starts bringing home souvenirs from work for the sexual enjoyment of himself and his girlfriend Betty (Beatrice Manowski, WINGS OF DESIRE). One day, Rob turns their relationship into a ménage-a-trois when he brings home the rotting corpse of a murder victim dumped in the swamp. Rob has always been a bit of wet blanket, but their new friend fills a hole in their relationship by providing stimulating company for Betty during Paul's days out. Their relationship changes, however, when Rob's supervisor Bruno (Harald Lundt, Buttgereit's DER TODESKING) fires him and Betty becomes concerned about how they're going to replace their decomposing friend. One day, Betty packs her things – and their friend – and walks out on Rob. In her absence, he attempts to charge his libido through more conventional means – going to the theater to see a porno horror film and picking up a hooker for a cemetery assignation – but his desires cycle back towards the morbid and the murderous.

A film that most of us stateside first became familiar with as a VHS release advertised in the back pages of Psychotronic Magazine, an article in one of the early issues of European Trash Cinema's late and lamented print magazine (or word of mouth in high school), and coverage in the Film Threat Video Guide (and their subsequent VHS), Jörg Buttgereit's feature debut NEKROMANTIK was probably the first international exposure for the German low budget splatter genre of the eighties which also included the works of Olaf Ittenbach (THE BURNING MOON), Andreas Schnaas (VIOLENT SHIT) and the slightly later porn/horror works of Andreas Bethmann (ROSSA VENEZIA). While some may have found it absolutely shocking and transgressive, the film is more successful at engendering a lingering queasiness with its homemade gore, sub-Robert Burns TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE décor in Rob's apartment, and the main corpse which seems more of a fine art sculpture than a movie prop (especially when crucified on the apartment wall, leaving behind a shadow-like stain on the wall in its subsequent absence). For some, NEKROMANTIK is an art film while for others it's a one and done viewing "experience". Cult Epics' Blu-ray makes it accessible to both types of viewers what with the long out-of-print Barrel Entertainment disc fetching high prices used (although those prices are sure to come down with Cult Epic's Blu-ray edition and new two-disc DVD editions now available).

Released in October 2014 in a limited edition of ten-thousand copies – several of which probably make up this run – that version is completely identical to the copy in this boxed set. Cult Epics' Blu-ray actually features two transfers of the film. The main presentation is a 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.33:1 pillar-boxed transfer from the original 8mm materials. At times, it looks like an uncorrected raw scan with grayish blacks, but adjusting the TV to get true blacks gives you pretty much the picture you get with the film's second transfer in the extras: a "Grindhouse" version transferred from an original 35mm blow-up of a 16mm internegative blow-up of the 8mm elements – also 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio – with burnt-in optical English subtitles. The 8mm-sourced transfer has more visible detail, but the grindhouse version might end up being the preferable viewing option as it in some ways restores the film's bootleggy mystique. Audio options include the original German stereo track in Dolby Digital 2.0 as well as a 5.1 upmix on the 8mm-transferred feature presentation version and the 2.0 track on the grindhouse version.

The feature presentation version can also be audited with an audio commentary by Jörg Buttgereit and writer Franz Rodenkirchen (who also plays the killer in the film-within-a-film "Vera"). The commentary was recorded for the DVD version, but some of their comments about what cannot be seen due to the resolution of the film format apply (only one shot was in 16mm and it looks no better than the rest). Buttgereit discusses how the film is in part a reaction to the way death is portrayed in other horror movies and their decision to avoid any Goth references or aesthetics. They talk about the construction of the corpse prop, the effect of the high level of lighting needed for the Super 8 format on the pig guts (the cinematographer's apartment was used in the film), and the chemistry between the two leads who hated each other (one day they nearly came to blows so the filmmakers decided to switch from the scheduled scene to the script's fight scene to retain the energy). The skeleton for the corpse was purchased from a medical student and its skin made out of a woman's tights and liquid latex. The eyes and entrails were from butchered pigs that Buttgereit secured by posing as a medical student. The grindhouse version includes an introduction by director Jörg Buttgereit (1:17) in which he explains that the 35mm transfer is his preferred viewing option.

The disc also offers two making-of segments in "The Making of NEKROMANTIK" (12:24) and what is simply titled "NEKROMANTIK Featurette" (9:23). The former combines audio from an older Q&A with Buttgereit and Rodenkirchin over a montage of behind the scenes stills and Super 8 footage of the shoot while the latter is a more recent video interview (with clips and stills appearing mainly in a picture-in-picture window. They both cover the making of the corpse prop (the dead cat was also a prop with scrambled egg innards), as well as Lorenz's flagging enthusiasm for the project and auditioning Manowski with the corpse. The Q&A with Jörg Buttgereit (39:56) is from the recent Beyond Fest screening in which he explains that the project was partially born out of his frustration with not being able to watch uncut horror films in Germany at the time due to censorship (which is still an issue), his interest in true crime, and a book he had read on Ed Gein. Some of the same ground is covered here as in the commentary and featurettes, but some of the questions are interesting as well as his responses on the differences between American and German censorship (he discovered that his own country is famous for "shit porn" from an episode of SOUTH PARK) with the latter harder on the glorification of violence than extreme sexuality. He also discusses the legal battles over NEKROMANTIK II and a scholarly essay that interpreted the films in the context of West Berlin before the wall came down and the decaying East Berlin in the aftermath. A still photo gallery is also included.

The other major extra is a new HD transfer of Buttgereit's 1985 short film "Hot Love" (29:05), the poster of which appears on the theater wall next to "Vera" in the main feature. It's a definite dry run for NEKROMANTIK in its boy (Lorenz again) meets girl (Marion Koob-Liebing), loses her to another man (Buttgereit), gets depressed and kills a helpless animal, and gets revenge on the couple in both "natural" and supernatural means. HOT LOVE will probably seem comparatively lesser in its ability to shock or repel, but it's an interesting look at the filmmaker's beginnings. The film's soundtrack German Dolby Digital 2.0 and the English subtitles are burnt-in but newly created. The film is also accompanied by an audio commentary by director Jörg Buttgereit of more recent vintage in which he remarks that the HD transfer comes from the original Super 8 elements rather than 16mm blow-up used to screen the film (and it looks better than the main feature). He comments that while using Super 8 now is an artistic choice, it was used back then because it was cheaper than 16mm but looked better than consumer video of the period. He also points out the film's punk influence as well as the German punk figures among the extras. Buttgereit also appears onscreen in a featurette on the short film (3:27) in the form of 8mm B&W footage from the film's original premiere capturing audience reactions before and after. The audio is out of sync and there are no subtitles, but some of the comments are in English.

Besides trailers for NEKROMANTIK (2:01) and HOT LOVE (1:10), the disc also includes trailers for DER TODESKING, NEKROMANTIK II, and SCHRAMM (the latter two having been previously released on DVD here in the states but long out of print). The 555 copy German limited DVD edition – which had English, French, Italian, and Spanish subtitles – featured a soundtrack CD and first pressings of Barrel's American DVD pressing of NEKROMANTIK II also came with a soundtrack CD featuring both scores while Cult Epic's Blu-ray features the soundtrack as an extra on the disc as one track (74:04) in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

DER TODESKING (Disc Two): An anthology on suicide originally titled "7 Days of Suicide," Buttgereit's feature-length follow-up to NEKROMANTIK is a decidedly artier work but not without Buttgereit's trademark obsessions with love, loss, and decay. On Monday, a fastidious, fish fetishist (the film's composer Hermann Kopp) writes farewell letters to his friends, calls in to work give notice, cleans his apartment, feeds his fish, overdoses and slips beneath the water of his bathtub. On Tuesday, a horror fan (Heinrich Ebber) – the recipient of one of the previous suicide's letters – picks up "Vera: Gestapo's Angel of Death", a Nazisploitation epic by Jörgi Butti and Francesco Tortellini, in which the protagonist tortures and castrates crucified Buttgereit himself. He has better things to do than have a social life, and does not take kindly to having his viewing interrupted. A seduced and abandoned woman (Susanne Betz) planning to commit suicide on Wednesday, but may change her mind when she meets a grieving man (Michael Krause, Buttgereit's first paid professional since the original actor could not get through the monologue) who shares his own tale of tragic love. A local "suicide bridge" is showcased on Thursday along with its many victims presented in memoriam, ranging from housewives to pensioners to children. On Friday, a spinster (Eva-Maria Kurz, TERROR 2000) spies enviously on pair of young lovers in the apartment across the courtyard before receiving a chain letter from the "Brotherhood of the Seventh Day" promoting a mass suicide event. On Saturday, a young woman (script supervisor Angelika Hoch) who feels cheated of life aims to make something meaningful out of her death and takes us on a first person POV massacre in a concert hall and suicide-by-cop. Perhaps most disturbing is Sunday in which the supernatural compulsion of "The Death King" is felt most as Buttgereit's objective camera observes the wordless physical or emotional agony of a young man (Nicholas Petche) writhing on the floor of his apartment, banging his head against a wall, and left to die alone.

Made less than three years after NEKROMANTIK – while that film was still making a name for itself abroad – the 16mm-lensed DER TODESKING is technically and stylistically advanced over the previous film with an overall look that seems less underground with a more considered approach to set design and camera movement (the 360 degree camera panning move during the first story would be refined by Buttgereit and cinematographer/producer Jelinski in NEKROMANTIK 2). The seven vignettes do not offer so much punchlines or stings in the tail; rather, their sometimes overturning of expectations says something about our differing ability to adapt and endure in the face of loss and loneliness. Intercut with the episodes is a time-lapse observation of a human corpse's decay and consumption by maggots, but Buttgereit largely eschews NEKROMANTIK levels of gore in an effort not to repeat himself (although NEKROMANTIK 2 would deliver it in spades).

DER TODESKING's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.33:1 pillarboxed presentation is quite an improvement on NEKROMANTIK, with attractive colors and prevalent but naturalistic grain and damage that is present but never distracting (Buttgereit himself has said in one of the commentaries that he detests digitally-created film damage but loves real film scratches, presumably the reason he prefers the "Grindhouse" transfer of NEKROMANTIK). The original mono audio is offered up in a Dolby Digital 2.0 track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 upmix which gives a bit more breadth to the music but is not a substantial upgrade. The optional English subtitles are free of any glaring errors. The film is preceded by an optional introduction by Buttgereit (1:14) in which he describes it as an anti-suicide film.

The film is accompanied by another engaging audio commentary by Buttgereit and co-author Rodenkirchen. They discuss the film as a departure from NEKROMANTIK as well as they ways in which it is still thematically related, and their approach to throwing together ideas (Rodenkirchen concedes the that three different letters is just bad scripting while Buttgereit says that the audiences and reviewers did the work of trying to tie them together). Buttgereit reveals that the video store seen in the film was the first West German store to stock independent films, and that the ILSA films were not banned but never released in Germany; as such, the "Vera" film here was his attempt to give German audiences an impression of the films and other Nazisploitation works. Buttgereit reveals that this is the first release to include full subtitles for the first suicide's telephone conversation with his boss, and that audiences were annoyed with the subtitles for the initial 16mm run which reduced the conversation to "I quit." Rodenkirchen also describes one of the two discarded vignettes featuring only three roses, one of which is soaked in hydrogen and shatters.

In the making-of featurette (15:43), Buttgereit and Rodenkirchen in narration over outtakes discuss their attempt to make something different after the horror fans embraced NEKROMANTIK. The outtakes cover the construction of the corpse – filled with pig intestines and its skin a mixture of putty and strawberry jam to attract flies --and its decay which was shot over five weeks using time-lapse cameras (the set was filled with flies by the end), as well as the camera rig used for the bridge scene. Buttgereit also discusses how he tried and failed to convey the atmosphere of the bridge. Rodenkirchen also describes the other discarded vignette about a goth kid who plans to commit suicide, imagining and romanticizing his friends and relatives mourning him, only for the reality to be quite different. Buttgereit dismissed it as "too trendy." The inclusion of the entire 1987 documentary CORPSE FUCKING ART (58:11), which the making of NEKROMANTIK, DER TODESKING, and NEKROMANTIK 2, reveals that the separate "making of" featurettes included on these and other releases of the films to be extracted in their entirety from here. Viewers who have already watched the making-of featurettes will find nothing new here other than the improved picture and sound of the new transfer. In addition to the usual still gallery (12:31), the disc also includes a trailer gallery with previews for NEKROMANTIK, NEKROMANTIK 2, DER TODESKNIG, SCHRAMM, HOT LOVE, CORPSE FUCKING ART, and ANGST (the new anthology with a piece by Buttgereit, not the 1983 Gerald Kargl film released recently by Cult Epics). The original motion picture soundtrack is included in its entirety in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (28:13), although the boxed set itself comes with a separate CD.

NEKROMANTIK 2 (Disc Three): Having read of the exploits of necrophiliac and murderer Rob Schmedke (Daktari Lorenz) and his subsequent suicide, lonely nurse Monika (Monika M., SCHRAMM) digs up his corpse and takes him back home. Unfortunately, Monika lacks the stomach to realize her fleshly desires for Rob's putrefying corpse and decides that perhaps they are better off as friends (she meticulously cleans him up and takes Polaroids with him). She seems to find a healthier alternative in Mark (Mark Reeder, DIE TODESKING), an actor who dubs pornographic films into German, even though she does not let him move while they are having sex. Mark is so besotted with Monika that, even after discovering Rob's severed penis in the fridge, he indulges her fetishes by "playing dead" and letting her take photographs of him suspended from the ceiling upside down like a slab of meat. Mark becomes increasingly disturbed by his girlfriend's "perverse" nature, but it is ultimately up to Monika to choose between the living and "the loving dead".

Buttgereit's artier follow-up to NEKROMANTIK focuses a bit more on love than lust, exploring the loneliness and consuming lust of less pathetic and more fetching protagonist. The film's icky set-pieces is not so much restrained as parceled out (and the effects more accomplished), saving the splatter for the finale which is as memorable as that of the first film. Unfortunately, the film drags interminably (at a comparatively epic one hundred and two minutes), quashing whatever momentum it had first with the film-within-a-film "Mon Dejeuner avec Vera" – a deliberately pretentious art film that unfortunately does not devolve into a slasher (unlike the film-within-a-film "Vera" from the original) – and then by an eight minute montage of the couple frolicking at an amusement park, a scene of Mark getting drunk at a bar played for comic relief, as well as a not-unpleasant musical interlude performed by Monika M. In place of Rob's recurring farmyard memory of a rabbit skinning is the much more revolting video of the butchering of a seal carcass which makes Monika seem less sympathetic and more perverse than Rob (which is just as well given the climax, but it's still more repellent than anything Buttgereit could simulate). The main plot is rather abruptly handled amidst all of the arty padding with no true emotional hook (although the film is reportedly looked upon more favorably by women's groups than gore hounds). Beatrice Manowski appears briefly as Robert's ex Betty who arrives too late to discover Rob's grave has already been pilfered (although she seems to be acquainted with Monika later on).

Unlike the first film which was shot in 8mm and blown up to 16mm and then to 35mm (Cult Epics' Blu-ray of the first film featured an HD transfer direct from the 8mm negatives and another transfer from 35mm), NEKROMANTIK 2 – initially released in a standalone limited edition of 5000 copies – was shot in 16mm and not only looks technically slicker but also stylistically-evolved over the first film. More thought has also gone into wardrobe and art direction, allowing for more striking compositions. That said, producer/cinematographer Manfred Jelinski's photography is often as self-indulgent as the direction with "neat" angles and camera movements (from DIY camera rigs), and the scoring is a distractingly uneven compilation of cues from NEKROMANTIK composers Lorenz and Hermann Kopp, as well as actors Monika M. and Reeder (and some guy named "John Boy Walton").

NEKROMANTIK 2 first appeared on these shores via Film Threat's VHS release, available in the back pages of various fanzines and in some of the more adventurous video stores. Barrel Entertainment's long out-of-print DVD was fully-featured with audio commentary, making-of, and various shorts (the first 20,000 copies came with a soundtrack CD). Cult Epics' Blu-ray features a 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC pillar-boxed 1.33:1 transfer looks crisper, more colorful, and generally less grainy except for underexposed shots and parts of the frame (the colorist decided against crushing the blacks so they are a bit noisier) than the first film thanks to the greater resolution of the film gauge with only the splices during a few shot changes, one or two reel changes, and a spec here and there as the noticeable damage. Audio is once again lossy, but the mono mix (in Dolby Digital 2.0) is not particularly vibrant in sound design apart from the score, and the stereo and 5.1 remixes are welcome but can only do so much within the constraints of the original mix components (I found the stereo mix most agreeable). The English subtitles are optional and easy to read; however, they do not translate Monika M.'s musical number. The extras are not quite as extensive as Cult Epics' package for the first film, but they are still quite generous and comprehensive.

The film can also be viewed accompanied by a new introduction by Buttgereit (1:35) as well as a light-hearted English-language audio commentary by Buttgereit (the menu misspells the director's surname as "Buttgerei"), producer Manfred Jelinski, co-author Franz Rodenkirchen, and actors Monika M. and Mark Reeder from 2001 carried over from the DVD editions. They discuss the frustrating attempts at casting the lead role before discovering Monika M. at a horror film festival two weeks before filming was to commence. Monika M. discusses the necrophiliac scenes and interacting with the corpse while Reeder, a British man who owned a bar in Berlin at the time, reflects on the porno dubbing scenes and his amusement at the shocked reactions of people with whom he has watched the film. Monika M. and Reeder point out their musical contributions while Buttgereit, Jelinski, and Rodenkirchen discuss not only filming on location guerilla-style but also filming in both West and East Germany shortly after the wall came down. When the film was banned, they got a film historian to testify that it was art because it depicted the fading East German Republic, and they continue to discuss the banning and seizure of the film throughout. They also elucidate all the multiple roles the cast and crew played before and behind the camera, and note that the brighter DVD image spoils the blood effects.

"The Making of Nekromantik 2" (26:34) is a montage of 8mm behind the scenes footage that also includes footage of the actor being cast in the nude (Reeder also shows more in the behind the scenes footage than he probably intended) for the corpse sculpture puking up his guts. The making-of was available on the Barrel DVD with either a radio interview with Buttgereit and Rodenkirchen or an audio commentary with Buttgereit, Rodenkirchen, and Monika M. while the Blu-ray features only the latter. Buttgereit talks about making the film from a woman's point of view after interviewing a female nercrophiliac (as well as the chance to redo the concept with more filmmaking experience under his belt) while Monika M. recalls how she was discovered by Rodenkirchen at a horror film festival and discusses how she feels about feminist interpretations. We also get a look at some of the other effects the artists were doing for a music video, the construction of which Buttgereit agreed to film if he could use it in his documentary CORPSE-FUCKING ART.

The selection of outtakes (11:02) are silent and of variable interest with nothing particularly juicy (the unrestored condition of the footage probably gives one an idea of what the 16mm negatives looked like before the remastering). Besides an extensive photo gallery (13:28) and the film's trailer (1:08), the disc also includes trailers for Buttgereit's NEKROMANTIK, TODESKING, SCHRAMM, and HOT LOVE. Only one Buttgereit short film is included: "A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein" short film (2:13) in which Buttgereit visits the Plainfield, Wisconsin cemetery where Gein was buried and where he dug up some of his corpses (don’t expect anything transgressive). Like the first disc, the film's complete soundtrack is available in a single chapter (57:28), but the disc also includes a live performance (47:08) as well as a 2011 "20th Anniversary Live Concert" performed by Monika M. and friends (11:43) – highlights from the live soundtrack performance with video – and the music video "Half Girl - Lemmy, I'm a Feminist" (3:07). The 5,000 copy limited edition – half of the limited run for the first film – comes with a slipcover and a limited edition postcard-sized photograph and a piece of artwork in the same dimensions.

SCHRAMM (Disc Four): Looking and feeling more like a European art film than an underground gore pic, SCHRAMM's look at the "lonely death of the Lipstick Killer" eschews the procedural aspects of the nineties American serial killer film in favor of exploring the killer's internal world (somewhat like David Bowen's and Carl Crew's THE SECRET LIFE: JEFFREY DAHMER with more surrealism). Lothar (Florian Koerner Von Gustorf) is a lonely cab driver who pines for his prostitute neighbor Marianne (Monika M., NEKROMANTIK 2) who hangs out with him in between customers. Leaning on him for protection when she finds herself involved with some wealthy clients who hold ritualistic orgies in a nearby mansion, Marianne is unaware of Lothar's murderous urges; indeed, he may not even have acted upon them until a visit to his apartment by a pair of believers (Carolina Harnisch and Micha Brendel) visit his apartment to spread the good word. Torn between the sexual stimulation of the murders and what he does with the corpses after death and his attraction to Marianne, pudgy Lothar's anxieties express themselves in a series of nightmarish visions of castration and amputation that may or may not be the result of a possible tumor. Lothar resorts to self-injurious extremes to stifle his libido and conceal his true nature from Marianne, but he may be leaving her vulnerable to other nefarious forces when she needs him.

Boasting camerawork that recalls some of Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD zaniness under a more disciplined hand, SCHRAMM is certainly the most technically-accomplished of the four Buttgereit films here even if the end result feels more disjointed than the NEKROMANTIK films. Buttgereit sought to depict a serial killer as a normal being rather than a Hannibal Lector-esque boogeyman, and Von Gustorf manages a certain schlubby everyman quality with his lonely existence, attempts at self-improvement, and feelings of inadequacy mocking him in a series of surrealistic nightmares (including a toothy vagina monster that creeps up on him in bed). As the normal character here, Monika M. conveys a sense of warmth even at her character's most nonchalant. Buttgereit is also at his artiest here with a non-linear narrative that shuffles details that make the audience wonder if Lothar has been branded the "Lipstick Killer" based on a series of crimes or a single violent outburst that claimed two victims. Co-writer Rodenkirchen cameos as a dentist during one of Lothar's nightmares.

Thanks to its greater technical proficiency as well as the brightly lit interiors and daytime exteriors, SCHRAMM is the most attractive presentation in the set with the pillarboxed 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.33:1 transfer sporting a bright image, bold colors in the blood and wardrobe choices, and detail in some surprising and unpleasant places (strangely, a couple of the make-up effects actually look grislier and more convincing in the making-of than they do properly shaded with make-up and color corrected). The original audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track as well as a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 upmix (the back of the boxed set cites all four films as having DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks but that is only true of this film). Optional English subtitles are provided for the German dialogue, and the film can be watched with or without a short introduction by Buttgereit.

The film is accompanied by two audio commentaries. On the first track, Buttgereit and Rodenkirchen reveal that did throw in a lot of stray ideas, including those left over from other projects (the 8mm flashback footage to Lothar's childhood also turns out to be "found footage" shot by someone else as authentic home movies), as well as the film's debt to LES CHOSES DE LA VIE by Claude Sautet and BELLE DU JOUR. They also let slide some interesting remarks about Von Gustorf's shifty life as a producer during the early nineties, with his acting fee being the permission to live in the apartment after the shoot since he had nowhere else to go. They also reveal that actor Brendel designed the film's poster from a still he took on the set and that Buttgereit's foreskin-nailing effect got him the effects job on KILLER CONDOM (the rest of the film's effects were the work of Michael Romahn). The second track reunites Von Gustorf and Monika M. who are both good-humored as Von Gustorf recalls that he boasted that he could get an erection for the sex toy scene and do it for real but could not get it up in front of the camera. Monika M. – who helped out behind the scenes as well – reveals that this was the first film on which Buttgereit employed a make-up artist and is a little embarrassed to discuss the film's bondage scene (however short it actually is). Von Gustorf reveals that he had been a cab driver earlier on and was able to get a cab for the film from his former employers while Monika M
He also reveals that Buttgereit wanted to come and film him when he ran in a Berlin 25 km marathon as a cheap way of getting a shot of his character able to blend into the crowd in public. Their disagreement over the running time – she says sixty minutes, he says seventy-five – suggests that perhaps Buttgereit may have cut the film down to its current sixty-five minute running time before its initial release. We also learn that SCHRAMM is not the protagonist's surname but the working title which persisted since Buttgereit could not think of a better title

"The Making of SCHRAMM" (35:31) is structured around an interview with a naked Von Gustorf, who recalls that he got a call from Buttgereit offering him the part if he was willing to gain thirty-five pounds. Von Gustorf jokes around on set and seems a bit obnoxious in the face of Buttgereit's patience, but the behind the scenes featurettes for the other films in the set have shown that sometimes the only thing the cast and crew can do when depicting such grim and transgressive subject matter is to goof off when the camera is not running. The documentary camerawoman also occasionally comes across as a bit pushy, as when she calls for Von Gustorf to pose for the camera after he has spent hours lying in dried paint for his death scene. Monika M. does provide a laugh when the camerawoman asks her if she ever feels in over her head with Buttgereit and she replies "After NEKROMANTIK 2, nothing shocks me."

Three Buttgereit short films are also included. "Horror Heaven" (22:37) – dedicated to Boris Karloff – is presented with optional commentary from Buttgereit and was his affectionate tribute to the horror films of his own youth. The mummy is defeated and has his revenge, Frankenstein's monster wants a bride but it is he who rejects her, Captain Berlin fights crime in a sequel to a short he made for a German TV special on Super 8 filmmakers, and Gazorra wreaks nuclear havoc on the German military. The short is rather jokey as most early home movies, but it demonstrates Buttgereit's ingenuity with no money (as well as the talents of NEKROMANTIK's Lorenz who created a castle "glass matte" for the Frankenstein episode and a stop motion monster for the Gazorra segment. "Blutige Exzesse im Fuhrerbunker" (7:57) finds a Hitler attempting to reanimate Eva Braun and the future progenitor of a new species of Nazi soldier supermen only for them to tear him apart. "Mein Papi" (7:10) is the most poignant short, documenting the director's father's deterioration from a cyst in his brain and the death of his wife (Buttgereit's mother died during the shooting of DER TODESKING). In addition to the still gallery (6:05), the disc also includes trailers for SCHRAMM, NEKROMANTIK, NEKROMANTIK 2, and DER TODESKING. The soundtrack is available on the disc in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (54:08) but it is also included on one of two enclosed CDs.

Although the back cover of the keepcase (which, like Cult Epics' TINTO BRASS COLLECTION four-disc set, also has trouble closing with the four discs and the booklet packed inside) avers that all four films have DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, that is only true of SCHRAMM (the 5.1 tracks on the other three films is in Dolby Digital) which benefits the most from the upmixing. The optional English subtitles are without any obvious errors. While all four discs feature a soundtrack option on the disc, Cult Epics presumably took a note from Arrow Video's limited Blu-rays of the NEKROMANTIK films and have issued all four of the soundtracks on CDs as well with NEKROMANTIK and DER TODESKING on one disc and NEKROMANTIK II and SCHRAMM on another (both housed in separate cardboard envelopes separately from the keepcase. Besides the CDs, fans of Buttgereit might want to pick up the set for the exclusive forty-page booklet featuring interviews related to each of the four films as well as quotations from Buttgereit on each of the shorts. (Eric Cotenas)