The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Jörg Buttgereit Day *

* (Halloween countdown post #3)

 

Infamous primarily on the strength of his shocking 1987 debut feature Nekromantik, German director Jörg Buttgereit was born to make horror films. His grandmother bought him horror trading cards while he was a kindergartner in Berlin, and for his first communion gift, he received a Super-8 camera.

‘At age 14, he made his first short films, and by the time he was 19, the future enfant terrible of the German underground was already creating controversy by showing concentration camp footage with his questionable 1982 short Blutige Exzesse im Fuhrerbunker. For the next several years, Buttgereit honed his talent with a series of increasingly disturbing shorts, picking up what would form the core of his repertory company (Daktari Lorenz, Manfred O. Jelinski, Beatrice M., Franz Rodenkirchen, and others) along the way.

‘Then came Nekromantik, an uncompromisingly grim and savagely appalling study of an Autobahn worker (Lorenz) whose progressive mental collapse leads to grave robbing, necrophilia, and a final ghastly act of suicidal masturbation which became the genre’s most talked-about gross-out scene for nearly a decade.

‘After the less caustic Der Todesking and the disappointing Nekromantik 2, it was a generally held opinion that Buttgereit would never match the ferocious audacity of his debut.

‘Then came 1993’s Schramm, and such premature dismissals were quickly laid to rest. The obsessively claustrophobic study of a necrophilic serial killer (Florian Koerner von Gustorf) who nails his penis to a table and fantasizes vaginal monsters while he isn’t sodomizing nude corpses, Schramm instantly reinvigorated the ebbing Buttgereit cult, solidifying the young director’s reputation as one of the few genuinely disturbing voices in contemporary graphic horror.’ — Robert Firsching

 

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Stills



















































 

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Further

Jörg Buttgereit Site
Jörg Buttgereit @ IMDb
JB @ Facebook
Sex Murder Art: The Films Of Jorg Buttgereit
JB @ letterboxd
Love & Death: The Films of Jörg Buttgereit
Horror-Liebhaber Jörg Buttgereit im Interview
The horror of the Nazi past in the reunification present: Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantiks
NEKROMANTIK: INTERVIEW WITH JÖRG BUTTGEREIT

 

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Extras


Trailer “Kannibale und Liebe” (theater play)


Frankenstein in Hiroshima (Radioplay, 2002)


What is a Cult Film – Jörg Buttgereit

 

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Interview

 

Virginie Sélavy: What’s your reaction to the fact that Nekromantik is getting an official Blu-ray release in the UK?

Jörg Buttgereit: The idea of releasing it on Blu-ray is something we had in mind for quite a while. It took ages because we did our old master from the Super8 film stock, which is not negative but positive film stock, because Super8 is made for daddy’s home films from the 70s, so you don’t have a negative. It was a lot of annoying work and I felt, what’s the use, because I prefer the movie to look very dirty (laughs). But when you transfer Super8 film stock to HD material there is not more depth, and there is no 3D effect, you get more dirt and more grain, so I’m happy (laughs).

That Super8 look is very important to the film.

I think so too. When I saw the dailies – as we say (laughs) – of Nekromantic, which was not the dailies, because when you shot on Super8, it took two weeks for the films to come back… so after two weeks, I saw the footage and I felt that it looked too normal and not dirty enough, so I was a little bit worried. So when we made film prints for the cinema in 16mm (this was a blow-up), we made sure we did it on a certain kind of film stock so the movie had this kind of greenish look, which looked dirtier, and the black looked more right in my opinion. But one curious thing happened. When we put out the film on VHS in Germany there were a lot of bootlegs in the US. I read reviews in magazines – because the internet was not there, this was 27 years ago – that said, ‘the movie looks so strange and it’s very dark’, and the viewer had the impression that they were watching real corpses. And I thought, well, it always works for the movie if you don’t see the real picture. I remember when I got my first Texas Chainsaw 2 VHS from the Netherlands, I couldn’t see anything. It was just darkness and noises, and I thought, what’s happening in that movie? I was totally fascinated. It’s the opposite of a movie experience today.

What did you think when you saw it properly?

It looked a little like a TV movie to me! It’s so bright! The first Texas Chain Saw is also very bright but it’s shot on 16mm so it still looks dirty. There was a hazing, they sprayed dust in the air, and it’s something that I did excessively when I did my episode for German Angst, my new movie that’s going to be finished at the end of the year. That film was shot on HD in CinemaScope so I wanted to make sure that it looked like a film and it looked dirty, so we did a lot of hazing. I was really afraid of seeing everything in HD.

The contrast that comes from using a home movie format and the subject matter is great. But using Super8 also makes Nekromantik look like an underground film, like those of the Kuchar brothers. It seems much closer to those films than to a straight horror film.

That was our thing, it is an underground film. The inspiration came from seeing Throbbing Gristle live in Berlin during that time, and watching John Waters’s movies, like Pink Flamingos, and having the book Film as a Subversive Art. And me being a big fan of old horror movies like Bride of Frankenstein. So it doesn’t work as a horror movie, there’s no tension, it’s terrible in that way – it’s terrible in a lot of ways… (laughs)

And as in underground film, you use non-actors who have a very unique presence. Daktari Lorenz has that weird wired energy, and it’s almost as if he’s not acting but just being himself.

Yes, I wasn’t trying to make them act. I was aware of the fact that they couldn’t deliver any lines and I couldn’t deliver good writing. I started doing good scripts when I started doing plays for German radio, but the first was in 2000. Until that time I wasn’t really sure if I could write good dialogue. Now I’m doing comic books, like Captain Berlin. That’s dialogue stuff I grew up with, very 70s, it’s something I can deliver very fast. So dialogue is something that I’m more able to deliver now. But these people who were acting in the film were just my friends, so how could they act? The film was never planned to be seen outside of my circuit. It was done mainly for this punk-rock-spirit audience inside Berlin. We were in this walled city so I didn’t even dare to take the movie and drive out of the city with it because there was the wall and they would have searched you, so it would have been impossible to screen outside of Berlin. With my short films I did stuff like this. But with Nekromantik I didn’t dare until the wall came down, which was two years later.

Did you not have more ambition for the film than just screening it within your circle?

Ambition maybe, but I was aware of the fact that it was impossible to reach this kind of audience. How could I, there was no internet. I’d only made short films before, that was Hot Love, which is also one on the Blu-ray. With Hot Love I did a tour through Germany. That was the only thing that was a little bigger than anything else I’d done before. I went to 10 different cities, in the West of course.

How do you see Nekromantik now? When you introduced the FrightFest screening in August, you seemed surprised that people were interested.

I’m amazed that it gets so much… not attention, because I understand why it gets attention. The poster we did back in 87 is an attention-grabber, but the movie doesn’t deliver on the poster. It does something else, and that’s nice, but I would never dare to hope that it really works. When I see the film I have to laugh. I see some stupid little kids trying to do a horror movie, or trying not to laugh in front of the camera. There’s a new de-noised soundtrack on the Blu-ray and in the first shot, where you see the legs and the panties coming down and then a girl is pissing, if you listen you can hear me laughing behind the camera. That’s how I approached the movie.

I think it is part of the appeal of the film, this anarchic charm, the gleeful pleasure at showing the most disgusting things possible.

I think maybe where we were ahead of ourselves was in the fact that the movie pretends that everything you see is normal. There is no justification, there is no chain-smoking police guy divorced from his wife who is uninteresting, but is there to put law and order into place. The fact that the corpse-loving scene is depicted in a way every normal love scene would have been, with piano music, with slow motion, all the clichés, I think that’s the trick, and that’s what gets people worried. Today Betty is like some emo goth chick, but back in 87 there was no such thing. There was no Tim Burton, no Johnny Depp. I was having fights with people about the fact that the main actress is in the bathtub with sunglasses on. That was actually like making fun of goth chicks before goth chicks were invented (laughs).

The way the music undermines all the romantic clichés is brilliant. You use the music similarly in Hot Love and Nekromantik 2, and running through those three films there is the same disillusioned view of love.

That’s what I was struggling with. If you see the introduction for Hot Love, it’s a revenge against my girlfriend who had left me. And the film is called Nekromantik, you can see it’s a combination of two extremes. Other horror films have the same topic, love and death, but nobody was going straight for the meaning of the word. To me, it’s about a very naïve part of you. I like innocence. And if a necrophile is having sex with a corpse and his girlfriend, then it should be presented from his point of view, that’s the interesting thing. I had some trouble explaining all these things. Two years ago I did a stage production on Edward Gein, the grave robber, so I had to sell it to the authorities by saying that this case is a cultural thing, it’s the basis for Psycho, Texas Chain Saw, Silence of the Lambs. But what fascinates me in this case, and this also became an inspiration for Nekromantik, is the naivety and the childish appearance of this guy called Ed Gein. One and a half years ago I went to his grave and I made a short film there. It’s not on the Arrow disc but it’s on the German Blu-ray. It’s called A Moment of Silence at the Grave of Ed Gein. So you can see that I deal with these people in this sort of sensitive way. I don’t think you can learn anything from them if you just deal with them as monsters. And that’s the same as Nekromantik. You have to care about them, otherwise the movie will be boring. And if you don’t give them a Jodie Foster character in Silence of the Lambs, or someone who can deliver them from evil, then you have to make these so-called bad people sympathetic.

You do that very well in both Nekromantik films and also in Schramm, which is an astonishing serial killer portrait.

I’m trying to do the same thing on stage now in Germany. I found a topic that’s very much fitting because last year I did a German version of The Elephant Man, and that’s exactly the same thing. You have this deformed man and everybody thinks he’s gruesome, but he isn’t. It was very revealing to do that on a stage and to have a different audience. Because The Elephant Man is something that people would go to even if they don’t know who I am, so I have a lot of normal people in the theatre. And they were surprised that the production was so sensitive, that’s what the critics said. Of course they have this picture of me, they see the movie, they don’t see the person. They were saying, ‘we’re so surprised that your stage version of The Elephant Man is so sensitive’. That’s an insult when you think about it, but I was still happy!

A lot has been made of the necrophilia, but the rabbit scene remains the most disturbing scene in the film.

Because you know it’s real. For me it was important to have real death in the film, being inspired by underground movies that deal with this kind of thing. I was always annoyed by people explaining why they watch horror movies – ‘because we like special effects’. And I didn’t want to have that excuse for my movie. The scene is there to make people aware of what they’re watching, and to make people sensitive about why they’re watching it. Because when you watch footage like this, sooner or later you will begin to ask yourself, why am I watching this? That was something I was asking myself. I didn’t have all the answers but it’s a movie, I just made it with my friends. I had this guy who was a producer and was giving me all these facilities, but I did everything on my own, I experimented, I had nothing to worry about in terms of budget because nobody was paid anyway. So we were trying stuff out, which is the opposite of the experience of making films nowadays – or in general.

You said you made the film in reaction to German censorship at the time. What reaction did you expect?

With the first Nekromantik nothing really happened because nobody noticed that the film was there. In Berlin we had two film prints and it was screened at three cinemas. One cinema shared one print by driving around all the time. Only people who already knew me and who were from this underground scene watched the film, so nothing happened. People were a little worried that the film was too serious – that was the first reaction. The first review I read was in a gay magazine, saying that this was the first movie about AIDS, because people are going to bed with the dead now, and that wasn’t something I was thinking about. So I was totally surprised by people taking the film seriously and thinking that it was about AIDS.

Did you agree with that interpretation?

I didn’t have that in mind when I did the script, which wasn’t really a script, it was about 20 pages of scribbling. But of course AIDS was a big thing during that time. I knew people who were suffering from AIDS so it was in my head. If something is in the zeitgeist then it will show up in the things you do, I think. So I agreed with it but I was also surprised by it. And it goes on until today. I read reviews explaining my films and I wonder… (laughs)

What’s the weirdest explanation of Nekromantik that you have come across?

I think the strangest, and on the other hand the most convenient, interpretation was done by this film historian when we were in court with Nekromantik 2. The first Nekromantik was shot in the West side of Berlin before the wall came down, and after it came down we shot Nekromantik 2 in the East part. So the thesis is that Nekromantik 2 is art compared to Nekromantik because it’s a film about the decaying East German part of Berlin (laughs). That explanation saved me from going to jail and having the movie destroyed, so I really embraced it. And of course it was a conscious decision to shoot in East Berlin because everything looked so dead and so old over there, like the 60s, or 50s even. All the outside shots look strange, it was like a movie shot in the past. So that was the weirdest explanation, but it’s also true because it documents a version of Berlin that is not there anymore. But the main reason was of course that we could shoot in East Berlin with no money. I wanted to do all these petting zoo scenes, so we went to the West Berlin zoo because they have much nicer animals and they told us it was 350 Deutschmarks an hour. We went to the East German zoo and they told us it was 50 pence a day, because they weren’t used to professional camera teams. You could take your home camera there and film for the whole day for 50 pence. There was no capitalist concept in East Berlin, they didn’t ask for money. So we paid nothing for shooting outside, it was heaven. It took a while for East Berlin to get a hold of the rhythm of the West, but all the West Berlin people were going to the East and doing stuff there, so it was like tourism what we did (laughs).

At the FrightFest screening you also mentioned another interpretation that was given of the film, which was that it’s about the unearthing of Germany’s past. Do you see it that way?

I know that depicting death in German movies is a problem because of the German past. And if you watch my earlier short film, Bloody Excess in the Leader’s Bunker, which is not as good as the title, together with Nekromantik, you could come to that conclusion. But to me it’s more about Ed Gein than about concentration camps.

But there are references in Der Todesking and Schramm too, so do you think it runs through the background of everything you do?

Nazi trash was something that was part of the punk rock spirit – Sid Vicious was running around in Paris with a swastika. Something like this would have got you in jail in Berlin at once. So doing a film like Bloody Excesses in the Leader’s Bunker… I did a premiere of that film in 1982 in a punk rock club, Risiko, with Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten at the bar and the police came to check if it was a neo-Nazi meet-up. So over there it was daring to use these symbols because even now it is forbidden to use these images.

Is that why the German authorities have such a problem with horror?

Yes I think so. Under the Nazis you had this clean screen thing, there was no dead body during the Nazi occupation, no dead body on the screen. It was just Heimat films, stupid propaganda movies, something like what you would get in North Korea today. And for some reason until today something that is connoted as horror is only possible in the underground, and you need a very good excuse to deal with this kind of matter. So for me it’s only possible to work in this field if I do it for the radio or on the stage. I did a play on Ed Gein for the stage, it would have been impossible to do it for the screen. Because there would have been no money. But for the stage I had lots of money to do it.

Is that why you stopped making films for the cinema after Schramm?

We did four feature films with no money, so as it was like what Throbbing Gristle did once with all their fans, they sent them a postcard, ‘the mission is terminated’ (laughs). I had everything, the movies were banned, the police raided my home, I was labelled an artist in court, and Schramm was nominated for a German film prize. It was the right moment to stop because it wasn’t subversive anymore. And everybody was running out of money. Because getting our money back like today with Blu-ray editions was not possible.

You said in an interview that you like to disappoint people’s expectations. Is that how you would define your general attitude?

It’s a natural reaction I have. When the first Nekromantik came out it had this strange success, people were demanding Nekromantik 2, and of course it should have been even more gross. To me that just felt so predictable and stupid that we came up with Der Todesking, which everybody was disappointed with in the first place. Later on, we gave them Nekromantik 2, which was also very disappointing because it’s even more romantic than the first one. It’s a natural reaction because I don’t like to be told what to do, in terms of what I’m allowed to do from the censorship boards, but also from the audience (laughs). It’s a childish reaction maybe. Nekromantik 2 is full of jokes about what people expect, this art movie on the ceiling in black and white, it’s all stuff people who were waiting for Nekromantik 2 hated. And only after the film was banned did they try to rethink, and they liked it then. You can never trust the critics or the fans. If you give them what they expect they will tell you that you don’t have any new ideas. If you don’t give them what they expect they have another reason to be disappointed (laughs). But in the long run it’s always more interesting to play around with a concept.

It’s interesting that it seems to define your relationship with both the censors and the fans.

Because to me the so-called artistic freedom is very important. And this freedom can’t be harmed by a fan wanting to have ‘Nekromantik 10’ and also by a guy who says, this tape should be burned. In the end it’s the same for me.

 

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13 of Jörg Buttgereit’s 33 films

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Manne The Mowie (1981)
‘A drunk sloppy person watches rugby (football?), pees in public, and tips over.’


the entirety

 

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Mein Papi (1982)
Mein Papi was first produced in 1982 but seems to have been worked on up until the parent of its title’s death. A version was screened in Germany before showings of Natural Born Killers: compared to Stone’s cartoon provocations this cuts very deep indeed. Buttgereit dispassionately records his father’s descent from a young, handsome truck driver into a bloated tyrant, cataloguing a series of tumours that end with an image of Buttgereit pere slumped over in a chair, apparently dead.

‘What matters, though, is not the film’s veracity – and there is a lot in it that is clearly, grubbily real – but its effect. The pinkish, brownish Polaroid tones reminded me of Richard Billingham’s infamous photographs of his alcoholic father, though when Billingham put those in motion – in his Adam Curtis-produced film Fishtank – the affection with which they were taken became more obvious. There is no such reassurance in Mein Papi, which remains a hard, insular, troubling film.’ — Graham Williamson


the entirety

 

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Der Trend (1982)
‘Punk fucking rock!’ — Kevin Riemersma


the entirety

 

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Captain Berlin – Retter der Welt (1982)
‘This is where it all started… Jörg Buttgereit, a leading light of the West Berlin underground film scene, first brought his venerable superhero to the screen in CAPTAIN BERLIN SAVES THE WORLD, with the maestro himself donning cape, tights and mask as he fights evil and saves his own true love. In this film, Buttgereit himself plays Captain Berlin in a yellow jumpsuit with red briefs worn on the outside, capped off by a Spiderman mask and a repurposed flag worn as a cape. Clearly the product of a punk sensibility slamming head-on into a love of the 1960s “Batman” teevee show. The film is funny to watch but low on stuff like “production values,” “plot,” and “sense.”‘ — IMDb


the entirety

 

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w/ Manfred O. Jelinski So war das S.O.36 (1984)
‘A documentary about the now abandoned and very influential punk club S.O.36. A punk music club on Oranienstrasse near Heinrichplatz in the area of Kreuzberg in Berlin, Germany.’ — IMDb


Excerpt


the entirety

 

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Horror Heaven (1984)
‘”Horror Heaven” is a compilation of early short videos, made by the goremaster Jörg Buttgereit, dedicated to Boriss Karloff. 1. Der mumie. 2. Frankenstein. 3. Die rache der mumie. 4. Gazorra: die bestie aud dem eridnnern.’


the entirety

 

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Hot Love (1985)
‘Daktari Lorenz falls in eternal, blissfull love with Marion (Marion Koob) at a party. He is in heaven… but soon she dumps him and moves in with a tall, blond new lover (Jörg Buttgereit himself). Daktari vows bitter revenge. He rapes the girl thus creating a monster baby that will show Marion what “Present Me with Your Heart” literally means. Dark, brooding and violent, this movie, made in 1985, set the tone for NEKROMANTIK.’ — Johannes Schönherr


the entirety

 

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Nekromantik (1987)
‘In the cult genre Nekromantik of Jörg Buttgereit is possibly one of the most discussed films. It was banned in several countries and only shown in theatres at rare occasions. One of the few screenings took place at London’s Scala during the Shock Around The Clock Festival (the forerunner of Fright Fest). Everyone who does something in the cult world, would like you to believe that he or she was there, but that’s probably hogwash. The truth is that a lot of people simply left the room, because Nekromantik is not only experimentally, it is also utterly repulsive.

‘Buttgereit does not understand why people see Nekromantik as a movie. It is an incoherent experiment that took two years to make and that looks like experimental films by industrial groups such as SPK or Throbbing Gristle. A joke that got out of hand. After the London screening the film got all kinds of reviews in fanzines (for the younger readers: magazines made by fans with the help of a photocopier) and the demand increased. There was no real distributor, and consequently the film appeared on the market as a bootleg, often as a copy of a copy, and the younger the generation, the lesser the quality. With the use of digital techniques, Jörg Buttgereit restored the film almost frame by frame (of course to the extent that thas is possible), and the result is now released on Arrow Video.’ — Didier Becu


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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The Death King (1990)
‘Seven episodes, each taking place on a different day of the week, on the theme of suicide and violent death. The Body of a naked man floats in blackness. Slowly stretching out from a foetal position it begins to decompose. A little girl sits in the sun scribbling in a sketchbook. “Der Todesking” – deathking – she writes. Der Todesking, Jörg Buttgereit’s second full-length feature film, has no central character or characters, but instead thematic continuity in the act of suicide. Divided into days of the week, it comprises a series of set-pieces, each featuring the self-destruction of a complete stranger.’ — film affinity


Trailer

 

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Nekromantik 2 (1991)
‘A female nurse desperately tries to hide her feelings of necrophilia from her new boyfriend, but still has pieces of the corpse of the first movie’s hero in her possession.’ — letterboxd


Trailer


Nekromantik 2 Behind the Scenes with Commentary (German)

 

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Schramm (1993)
‘Jörg Buttgereit takes you into the twisted mind of a deranged sex killer in the deeply disturbing SCHRAMM. Lothar Schramm, the so-called “Lipstick Killer”, lies dying in a pool of blood and paint. As he expires, fragments of his life flash before his eyes – his uneasy friendship with the prostitute that lives next door; the brutal slaughter of a pair of doorstep evangelists whose bodies he poses in obscene fashion; his unhealthy pastime of hammering nails into his own manhood.’ — Von Joerg


Trailer


Excerpt

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Captain Berlin Vs Hitler (2009)
‘In 2007 Buttgereit went back behind the lens to film a feature-length project which would undoubtedly be his most ambitious to date. Based upon the character who originally appeared in a ten-minute short created by him in 1982, CAPTAIN BERLIN VERSUS HITLER is in fact a stage play, shot over three days in front of a live audience at Berlin’s Hebbel Am Ufer theatre in November 2007 and during post-production infused with special optical effects for limited theatrical release in 2009.

‘The story goes that after the Nazis took power during 1933, the resistance took great pains in searching for a solution to end Adolf Hitler’s evil dictatorship. They formulated a plan to bio-engineer super-human assassins, eventually finding their man in one ‘Captain Berlin’ (Jürg Plüss). However, Berlin’s attempt on the life of the fuehrer was unsuccessful, subsequently forcing him to go underground and adopt a new identity.’ — Kevin Gilvear


Trailer

 

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Green Frankenstein (2013)
‘A mix between stage play, radio play and Japanese monster movie.’ — letterboxd


Trailer


Intro (German)


the entirety

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Josh, Hi, Josh! Holy moly, that’s such great news about your book! Worth the long wait, for sure. Congrats, man, and future congrats to all of us. Yes, sure, send me the pdf. You have my email info, I guess? Excellent celebratory weekend! ** wolf, W! My pleasure, pal, naturally. Yes, that’s the piece. And, yes, the cousin part, incredible. I’ve heard that McQueen’s new, imminently forthcoming feature film is a change and maybe brings some of his video work’s qualities into the longer form, and I’m very curious about it. Sweet. I went to the Paris aquarium yesterday for the first time in ages. A guy interviewed me for his podcast there. I forgot how big and labyrinthine-ly structured it is. Very soothing too. Are you going to see the Michael Clarke show/retrospective at the Barbican? I sure would if I could. Happy weekend! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, momentous news yesterday. Everyone, Mr. E’s FaBlog has tackled the big American news of yesterday, and you can get a clue of how he tackles it via the entry’s title: ‘Hicks Licks Don’s Dick’. ** _Black_Acrylic, Happy the post intersected with your ordering skills. ** Armando, Hi. I seem to be fine today so far. No, your description of the film is not an accurate depiction of its entirety or full intentions. No, its not an Yves Saint Laurent ad. YSL put some funding into the film, that’s all. No, it’s not a mockumentary, it’s a partly improvised fiction film. Dude, there must be synopses of the film out there online if you want to know what it is an accurate way. Today? It’s Nuit Blanche, which has transformed from a super fun, giant event into a very low budget, half assed little thing, features one thing I want to go see — a ‘rain forest’ by the artist Dominique Gonzales-Foerster in the garden of the fashion museum — so I’ll hit that tonight along with a couple of late night visits to nearby museums. Otherwise, the usual. You? ** Dominik, Hey, hey! Theo Cholbi, who plays Tim in ‘Permanent Green Light’ is close with Michael Pitt — they were both in the last Larry Clarke film — and speaks highly of him. I met MP once. He squinted and grunted at me. I watched ‘Who Took Johnny’ too. I (too) am a sucker for that sort thing, unsurprisingly. You’re really hitting me in the deepest pleasure centers with your recent love wishes, thank you. Love like a special Pulitzer Prize created expressly to honor SCAB’s contributions to world culture, Dennis. How was your weekend? ** Brian O’Connell, Hi, Brian. Very good to see you again. I really liked ‘The Cipher’ if that means anything. Good place to start with her work. I agree totally with your Haneke assessment. Thank you for it. People over here in France are mind boggled by the faked-up US controversy about ‘Cuties’, which played here without a dissenting peep. Well, given that the vast majority of what’s happening over there seems like idiotic insanity to people here and elsewhere, the word mind boggled is too big. It must be so strange: starting college, which is inherently big, in such a fractured, hands off way. Happy to hear it’s going well. What are you studying? I haven’t read the Jonathan Littell. I’ve been intending to for ages. I’m easily intimated by very long novels, and I think that’s where the delay comes from. Pretty much everyone I know here either thought it was great or admits it was really something even if they weren’t totally sold. I can’t remember the details of what people said other than them saying they were pretty sure I would like it. Let me know what you think when the time comes, if you feel like it. I should at least go pick it up and put it in my to-read pile. What do you have planned for Halloween? I’m so envious. It’s not much of a thing here, so my hopes and plans are low. The amusement park Parc Asterix has done a makeover with some haunted houses, but there’s a real chance we might get somewhat locked down in Paris soon, which could well kill that off. So, mostly, I think Halloween will largely be celebrated by me in the form of making Halloween-themed blog posts, sadly. Good weekend to you. ** Steve Erickson, Crazy. The new news. I got the ‘Rope’ association thing too. Didn’t seem like an accident. Ah, Luc Sante is a wonderful writer with an excellent brain. That should be great. ** Corey Heiferman, My pleasure. She’s excellent. I think you’ll be pleased. Okay, first I have to find out if the Robbie Basho post is in the old blog data I have already uploaded and, hence, easily restorable, or in the data that’s still on a hard drive and in need up uploading, in which case it’ll probably take a while. Roughly half of the blog’s history is still inaccessible to me. May your dad’s weakness de-weaken incrementally and steadily. And I sure hope those potential gigs work out. Oh, hm, let me see if anything I saw recently is visible to much of a degree online. Oh, okay, I found one. There was (and still is) a show of Ed and Nancy Kienholz’s goofy sculptures and installations and wall pieces from the 80s and early 90s that, in person at least, seemed super alive and obsessive and funny and subtle and ridiculous in a very pleasurable way. Here’s a virtual galerie visit. Thanks for the Jerusalem death metal link. I am, naturally, very curious. ** Maryse, Hi, Maryse! Ha ha ha, I clearly agree since I specifically picked that pic to be the visual headline. I always aim for bliss, but you know how wobbly bliss is. Really fantastic wordage/thoughts about Haneke. That was a joy. Thank you, pal. I owe you an email, which will come very quick. I started your novel, and it’s so fucking good! I’m suffering from serious prose chops envy, and I don’t feel that very often, I assure you. Spooky, exuberant weekend to you! ** Right. It’s Halloween season, and I thought turning the blog over to that dastardly film guy Jörg Buttgereit might be a good way to keep an appropriate spirit snowballing and spiralling. So that is clearly what I have done. See you on Monday.

20 Comments

  1. Jeffrey Coleman

    Nice. I have a copy of Der Todesking that I haven’t watched yet. Need to watch that, and get Schramm as well. Enjoyed his Necromantik films.

    I’ll go enjoy this Day more fully. All the best, Dennis.

    • Graham Rae

      Der Todesking is Jorg’s best film. A work of absolute artistic brilliance. I wrote some of the liner notes for the Arrow Video UK release for it a couple of years ago, and got a Todestat you can see in the DVD/blu-ray extras. I wrote the first ever American review of the film (from Scotland) in 1988 in Deep Red magazine, cos I genuinely saw it at Shock Around the Clock 2 at the Scala. Having people decades later telling you that your teenage review turned them onto the film is weird as fuck, but I still get it. 🙂

  2. David Ehrenstein

    TRUMP DEATH WATCH ;He’s supposedly “doing well” yet he’s being given a new experimental drug applicable only to extreme dire cases.

  3. Bill

    Good to see we’re continuing to warmup for the big day at the end of the month, Dennis. I’m still trying to remember if I’ve seen Der Todesking back in the day. I suppose it can’t be hard to score a download/stream of some of Buttgereit’s films. Looks like quite a dish back then, but I’m probably somewhat partial to lanky Berlin guys posing next to corpses, haha.

    I must admit I’m not a fan of Koja’s Cipher. But I’ll give Velocities a shot soon.

    Bill

  4. Danielle

    **Perhaps fittingly, my gushy/braggy Koja Comment fell down the Funhole yesterday, reposting it here.  I’ve never heard of Buttgereit and it’s October, time for some scares!  Pleased as punch, too, that you are reading 7th Mansion Dennis! I’m using my power as a professor to force my students to read an excerpt of it for our animal/plant/rock liberation portion of the class this quarter–read it n’ weep, suckaz!–

    Kathe!! Special K!  :Falls off couch::

    –No u guyz srsly listen omg U GUYZ–

    Maryse read “Strange Angels” when we were 12 or 13, cried for two days straight, told me I had to read it.  So I read it and I also cry for two days straight.  I got my degrees in psych because of that book (I mean psychology can go straight to hell but I’m grateful for the education). 

    My husband invited Kathe to our university (cuz he’s a champ) years ago and I couldn’t believe that first time when Kathe motherfucking Koja, coolest kid in school, was in her pjs sitting on my sister’s bed for a sleepover just chatting away, brushing her teeth, being fabulous with that ridiculously amazing mane of hair.  Then Kathe asked Maryse to write the afterword for the reissue of The Cipher that was released just last month.  Fam, if you told my 12 year old self all this was going to happen she would have shat her pants.  Moral of story: life is magical (I mean in between majorly fucking you in the ass in completely non-consensual and egregious ways). 

    What Kathe is the best at is her ability to create a particular feeling/mood in her work that you want to disappear in, despite everyone being abjectly poor and depressed and never getting the things they want and making the absolute worst life decisions.  Her characters are losers but she somehow makes you want to be them–or at least be close to them.  She creates affection and solidarity rather than pity.

    Also: Haneke, another a teen idol of mine.  I was reading these old NAMBLA bulletins a few years ago (and during this research phase way too many people on the CTA would ask me  “hey, watcha readin’?”  And, like…how… in the world …do you explain…what you are reading? )  and there was a photo in one of the bulletins that seemed familiar but I couldn’t quite place it–then I realized it was a still from Benny’s Video.  Those trifling ass b*tches sexualized what was an awful, sad moment in the film because, you know, boyz r sexy even if they’re having an existential breakdown of epic proportions.  Tee he!

    Anyway, Heavy D, guess who has already committed to the Horror of Humanities Haunted House this year? Kathe Koja. 
     ::Nudge nudge wink wink poke poke shuffle-step tap twirl:: 
    I’m also doing a dance thing for the haunted house in honor of you, Sunn O))) and Vienne for it. It involves Javanese masks and hoodies.  So basically all the cool kids are doing this HH thing. I’m serious it’s a fact it’s totally not peer pressure & don’t you miss being paid shockingly low wages for your art??  

    Peace in the Middle East,

    -Alpha Twin XXL

    PS:  Road trip to ride some ‘coasters next spring, you ask?  I. call. shotgun. 

  5. Armando

    “No, its not an Yves Saint Laurent ad.”

    https://www.ysl.com/hr/saint-laurent/shop-product/unisex/event_self_04_section :

    “SELECTED BY CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, “LUX ÆTERNA” IS A 50 MINUTE “FILM WITHIN THE FILM” DIRECTED BY GASPAR NOÉ, PRESENTED AS PART OF THE MIDNIGHT SESSION PROJECTED ON THE 18TH OF MAY 2019 AT THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE. A VIBRANT ESSAY ON RESPECT FOR BELIEFS, THE ACTOR’S CRAFT AND THE ART OF FILMMAKING THAT STAGES BÉATRICE DALLE, CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG, ABBEY LEE, ANATOLE DEVOUCOUX DU BUYSSON, CLARA 3000, CLAUDE-EMMANUELLE GAJAN-MAULL, FELIX MARITAUD, FRED CAMBIER, KARL GLUSMAN, LOLA PILLU PERIER, LOUP “VUK” BRANKOVIC, LUKA ISAAC, MAXIME RUIZ, MICA ARGANARAZ, PAUL HAMELINE, PHILIPPE MENSAH, STEFANIA CRISTIAN, TOM KAN, VICTOR SEKULARAC AND YANNICK BONO.

    DIRECTED BY GASPAR NOÉ
    CURATED BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
    PRODUCED BY YSL”

    ^ Sounds like an YSL ad to me.

    “Dude, there must be synopses of the film out there online if you want to know what it is an accurate way.”

    ^ OK, OK, I’m sorry I asked.

    A “rain forest”? OK, I won’t ask you what you mean by that. You go and have your fun.

  6. Armando

    I did find this, though:

    “Gaspar Noe teams up with Beatrice Dalle, Charlotte Gainsbourg and a VIP section’s worth of Instagram-friendly faces — models, actors, DJs and “It” girls and boys du jour — to craft Lux Aeterna, a promotional film for Saint Laurent made under the production patronage of the fashion brand’s current artistic director Anthony Vaccarello. It’s nowhere near as compelling as his last feature, the dance-horror story Climax. Nevertheless, this cheeky film-within-a-short-film follows a similar trajectory to the last, moving from comic improvisational chatter to anarchic chaos and violence featuring beautiful people, this time in more expensive clothes, all by Saint Laurent.

    he concise 51-minute running time probably means this was conceived to fit TV schedules and then have some sort of viral life beyond on the interwebs. But a few fests will probably shine Lux’s light in a midnight slot just like Cannes, where its brevity is an asset.

    […]

    it’s all business as per Noe usual, right down to the sans serif titles that intersperse the action periodically, seemingly at random, with either credits for the film itself or pretentious quotes about creation attributed to “Jean-Luc” or “Rainer W.” It doesn’t represent any kind advance on Noe’s craft, but given that he’s made all kinds of music videos and advertising work throughout his career, this isn’t any kind of backwards step into commercialism. In fact, the matchup between his aesthetic and Saint Laurent’s is very synergistic in corporate terms, both of them brands that exude a certain decadent excess and poisonous beauty. […]”

    – Leslie Felperin

  7. Armando

    Also:

    “Commissioned to make a quarter-hour TV ad for Yves Saint Laurent, the director persuaded his sponsors to let him pump it up to something bigger, but not that much bigger – something that might qualify as cinema for Cannes, with people dressed in YSL.”

    – Peter Bradshaw

  8. Armando

    Also:

    “Commissioned to make a quarter-hour TV ad for Yves Saint Laurent, the director persuaded his sponsors to let him pump it up to something bigger, but not that much bigger – something that might qualify as cinema for Cannes, with people dressed in YSL.”

  9. Armando

    Well, I do Fucking Love Herr Jörg Buttgereit and his Great and Very Funny Films!!!

    (Well, I obviously love some of his films more than others.)

    I have ‘Schramm’ on Blu-Ray restored from the 16mm negative completely uncensored and uncut. Love it. Have always felt certain very strong FASSBINDER influence.

    Very, very German Filmmaker.

    ‘Mein Papi’ is such a Great and Funny and Honest short film.

    And ‘Nekromantik 2’… LOVE that fucking Masterpiece so Motherfucking Much.

  10. Armando

    It’s like unknowingly have made posts of German Filmmakers I Love. Are you planning a Lang one, just out of curiosity?

  11. Armando

    ^ *Fuck, I’m so so so sorry; Michael Haneke IS *AUSTRIAN*, of course; *NOT* German. I’m so fucking embarrassed.

  12. Misanthrope

    Hey, Big D, I’ve spent most of this weekend in pain and throwing up and in the ER. Running a slight fever now, but can’t really eat or anything. Bloodwork, urine test, and CT scan showed everything looking good, except…that fucking kidney I’ve talked about here before. It’s dilated and humongous. No stones or anything. Looks like a buildup of scar tissue that’s blocking its function. Am on an antibiotic and have pain meds just in case. (I actually feel better now with this slight fever (101 F) than I did without.) The morphine and anti-nausea stuff helped at the hospital. I’m calling the urologist on Monday. Fingers crossed.

    Might need to get it stented. 🙁 We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m hydrating as best I can and taking care of myself.

  13. _Black_Acrylic

    I love Nekromantik and there’s a fair bit of his work available on DVD, but I’d be pushing my luck as far as lockdown family DVD viewing goes. Although I did get to watch The Decline of Western Civilization largely on my own this week and enjoyed it a whole lot.

    Things are fairly quiet here of course, but I’m delighted to say that Leeds United are taking the Premier League by storm! Last night we held the expensively assembled Manchester City team to a draw at Elland Road and we’re very much in dreamland right now.

    • _Black_Acrylic

      An exclusive behind-the-scenes pic here of Ben ‘Jack Your Body’ Robinson recording the latest episode of Play Therapy for Tak Tent Radio earlier today.

  14. Steve Erickson

    The Brooklyn micro-theater Spectacle sometimes uses trigger warnings. When I programmed a film by Kamran Heidari that shows a goat being killed in a religious ceremony, I had to include one about violence towards animals. They showed NEKROMANTIK a few years ago, and the program notes included 15 different trigger warnings! Of course, this also serves as ballyhoo.

    Do you remember Pulsallama, the Club 57-affiliated band fronted by Ann Magnuson? Their self-titled ep was recently reissued. It reminded me of a cross between ESG and the B52s. I was startled when I heard the opening track because it immediately sounded familiar, then I realized it was sampled on a Danny Brown song.

  15. Dominik

    Hi!!

    Haha, I haven’t had even that much contact with Michael Pitt so…

    I had the feeling that you might’ve seen ‘Who Took Johnny’ too. I wonder if Paul Bonacci served as at least partial inspiration for Bob Taylor’s character in Prisoners.

    My weekend was another low-key movies & reading kind of weekend. How I love it the most. I watched ‘Funny Games’ and fuck… For some reason, I didn’t expect it to be this suffocating. It was terrifying and really, really good.

    What happened on your end?

    Same goes for your loves! I really appreciate the Prize, hehe. Okay, here goes a less personal one: love trying to pronounce the original name of the Mexican hairless dog and failing miserably as it’s called Xoloitzcuintle, D.

  16. Brian O'Connell

    Hey, Dennis,

    Wow. I’ve never heard of Jörg Buttgereit before, but this stuff looks crazy. I’ll probably start with “Nekromantik”: “uncompromisingly grim and savagely appalling” sounds right up my alley. And the schlocky effects look great!

    Re: college: yeah, it is really weird. Even three months ago I was still preparing for this huge change in my life—moving into a dorm, living on my own, fraternizing with strangers, the whole nine yards—but here I am taking Zoom lectures from my basement. It’s extremely isolating and sometimes very dull, but I’m making it work. The scholarship program I’m in is for those with an interest in the humanities, so lots of philosophy/political science/etc. I find most of my courses interesting, though I’ve no idea what I’ll wind up fixing on. My heart lies with film, but my brain tells me I’ll probably wind up as an English teacher or something, which wouldn’t be the worst. I don’t know. It’s a process of discovery, I guess. At least I have time to think it over!

    There’s not a lot going on on the Halloween front for me either, unfortunately. You;re lucky to have haunted houses—I don’t think there’s any around here. My town isn’t really big on Halloween in general, which I’ve always found rather sad. When I was younger there were two houses in the neighborhood that really committed to the bit—one that put on a huge display of extremely gory decorations, and another that had an actual corn maze where you’d be chased by the owner with a faux-chainsaw—but the owners have since changed and now they’re just as bland as all of the others. We’ve considered stepping it up this year, but the decorations are so exorbitantly expensive and it might not be worth it given the limited trick-or-treating circumstances provided by COVID. And, as with France, all indications are pointing to greater lockdown measures for us in the coming months. So I’ll probably just wind up binging my favorite horror movies (what are yours?) and hold a small, responsible, costumed gathering with a few friends. That’s the best I can hope for at the moment.

    As always, sending my well-wishes. Hope you had a great weekend, and looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

  17. Armando

    Was in a severely suicidal mood all day. Passed out, woke up and then I started feeling less fucking shitty. Hope It lasts.

  18. Armando

    Was in a severely suicidal mood all day. I was writing suicide notes or something like that, I passed out, woke up. started feeling weird and not as suicidal. *Shrugs*.

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