Next year will be the 20th Anniversary of a small, micro budget feature film concerning the necrophiliac lifestyle of a pair of young lovers. The film was Nekromantik, and it went down in history as the most controversial film ever made. Banned in just about every country in the world, it became the most bootlegged video of all time. If ever there was ever a filmmaker destined to the pages of Girls and Corpses Magazine, it would have to be Jorg Buttgereit. But Jorg is not an easy guy to track down. For one thing, he has no internet, and no e-mail, but we did manage to get his phone number in Berlin. Language barrier and 9 hour time difference be damned! We wanted to find out what he's been up to lately and we are proud to bring you this Girls and Corpses Magazine exclusive interview.
Girls and Corpses: Jorg, you seem to have been off the film radar the last few years (at least here in the states) what have you been up to?
Jorg Buttgereit: I just wrote a German book on Japanese monster movies called Japan -- Die Monsterinsel. I grew up with those old Godzilla and Gamera movies. It is a film guide combined with interviews. I went to Japan to talk to the stars of my childhood like Haruo Nakajima, the stuntman who played Godzilla from 1954 to 1972. I also did a whole bunch of weird radio plays for the nationwide station WDR. I just finished my 8th radio play called Captain Berlin versus Dracula. A superhero is fighting against the brain of Adolf Hitler and the prince of darkness. In 2002 I did a radio play about Ed Gein called Ed Gein Superstar. It was a scandal and only aired once. Last year I wrote and directed the German version of the Punk-musical Gabba Gabba Hey! with music from the RAMONES. It was a hit in Berlin and we went on tour across Germany. Tommy Ramone, the only surviving Member of the RAMONES gave me a hug after the premiere in Berlin. So, I guess he liked it too. Right now I am preparing a book with essays and photos for the 20th anniversary of Nekromantik next year.
G&C: Nekromantik put you on the map as a filmmaker. Next year will be its 20th anniversary. How does it feel to look back at it after all these years? Was it worth all the trouble? Could that film be made in Germany today?
JB: Times have changed. It is very easy now to produce your very own film. I wonder why there are no real good underground movies out there. The first Nekromantik was a protest against the strict censorship movement in Germany. Nearly every horror-film was cut during the 80th. A lot of films didn't make it to Germany. So, I felt the need to produce an independent underground movie with a disturbing topic. I had already done a bunch of short films and had a small crew that was ready to work for free. We never received any film fund and we never asked for a certification or anything. I was also bored by most of those uninspired horror movies. Sex and death is a theme that was visible in every horror film. But it was always connected with supernatural rubbish. Was it worth the trouble? You tell me.
G&C: What is the state of German Cinema today? Is it stagnant right now or are there some exciting filmmakers on the horizon that we should be looking out for?
JB: There is nothing exiting happening in the horror genre in Germany.
G&C: What do you think of other German filmmakers who tried to capitalize on the ground you broke with the Nekromantik films. I'm talking specifically about Olaf Ittenbach and Andreas Schnaas.
JB: I know Ittenbach and Schnaas. We meet at festivals. They are very nice and funny people. But I haven't seen a lot of the movies they did. There even was a plan to do a compilation movie in Spain with the 3 of us. But the Spanish production run out of money.
G&C: Have you finally seen a relaxing in the German censorship laws the last few years or is it still hard to make films in Germany?
JB: The censors are busy now with video and computer games. It should be easier to do unconventional films. But it is not happening. By the way, my films are not banned anymore in Germany. They are totally legal now and officially labeled as "art". We spent two years in court to get my films back on the market. After that victory we did wonderful DVDs of all my movies, the so called Special European editions with all kinds of extras, subtitles and booklets. But the big shops are still afraid to sell my DVDs.
In the USA it should be very easy to obtain my films on DVD from Barrel Entertainment. My suicide-film Der Todesking is not out in the USA. But there will be a European edition pretty soon. The DVD will come with a nice Death-King-dog-tag.
G&C: Your films have all explored the theme of Death, especially Der Todesking, why the fascination with death?
JB: We are all afraid of death. That's why we have to deal with it. In one way or another.
G&C: What I like best about your films is that to me they are exploitation art films. All of them have exploitation elements to them, but your shot composition is pure art. I can tell that a lot of thought goes into what you are putting on the screen. Do you storyboard, or do you just work off of a very detailed screenplay?
JB: My intention was to get rid of the border between exploitation and art. Nekromantik is both. ''ll get entertainment and enlightment out of it. But you have to take the effort of watching the film with open eyes. Most of the time I already have the pictures in my head before shooting.
G&C: To this day, I still find it amazing that you shot your films on Super-8. You had some incredible production value on your films. Did you prefer Super-8 or was it just a budgetary consideration to use that format?
JB: It was a budget consideration to shoot the first Nekromantik on Super 8. All my shorts have been done on Super 8 before. I did know how to use it. All my other "Art house-Horror"-feature films are done in 16mm.
G&C: I know you are a big Godzilla fan. As a child I grew up on those films as well and I still love them. That was always my representation of Japanese cinema, Godzilla and Akira Kurosawa. But the last couple of years I have discovered the "Extreme" side of Japanese cinema. These are films that could never get made anywhere but Japan. A good example of this is "Battle Royale". I absolutely love that movie. I also love the films of Takashi Miike. Have you seen "Battle Royale" or Takishi Miike's "Ichi the Killer'? If so, what do you think of them?
JB: I love Japanese cinema and often do reviews for those films for German magazines. I absolutely love Audition and Visitor Q by Miike.
G&C: Have you ever been approached by Hollywood to make a film in America? Would you, if asked?
JB: No. But a big budget remake of Nekromantik would even shock me.
G&C: You've directed quite a few music videos lately. Creatively, which is more satisfying, a feature film or a music video?
JB: The nice thing is that a music video is done in 1 or 2 days. I like that.
G&C: I actually make my living as a corpse maker (www.EdGeinCollection.com). I make corpses for Haunted Attractions, and also for various film and television productions. But I have to say, the corpse you made for Nekromantik really kicks ass! You did an outstanding job! Do you like doing special effects? Or is it just another job for you?
JB: I think it helps, that the first Nekromantik is made on Super 8 film stock. It is very grainy. It hides a lot of flaws on the FX and makes the film look like a sick home movie. It pays off that we worked for 2 years on that film. I still do FX sometimes. I was the special FX-Supervisor on Killer Condom a few years ago and the recent German movie Journey into Bliss by insane director Wenzel Strorch.
G&C: Do you have any dream project that you would still like to do?
JB: Yep, I have lots of ideas for films, stage plays and radio plays. That's what I do.
G&C: Lastly, what do you think of Girls and Corpses Magazine (www.GirlsandCorpses.com)? We are actually pretty popular in Germany and I attribute that to your work paving the way for us. Without Nekromantik, there would be no Girls and Corpses Magazine. When we become a print magazine, do you think we will be able to be sold in Germany?
JB: I don't have internet and have never seen your magazine. But I like the title very much. Hitting the German market with it? I don't think so.
G&C: Thanks Jorg! We'll send you an autographed copy when it comes out. Keep up the good work and thanks for taking time to talk with us.
Jörg Buttgereits body of work:
Shorts (producer, director, author)
• DER EXPLODIERENDE TURNSCHUH (1981)
• DER TREND -- PUNKROCKER ERZÄHLEN AUS IHREM LEBEN (25 Min., 1981)
• BLUTIGE EXZESSE IM FÜHRERBUNKER (8 Min. 1981)
• CAPTAIN BERLIN (15 Min., 1982)
• DER GOLLOB (25 Min., 1983)
• HORROR HEAVEN (30 Min., 1984)
• HOT LOVE (40 Min., 1985)
• MEIN PAPI (10 Min., 1995)
Feature Films (director and author, if not indicated otherwise)
• SO WAR DAS SO 36 (90 Min., 1984, Doku.,Co-director/producer with M. Jelinski)
• JESUS -- DER FILM (by M. Brynntrup, 125 Min., 1985, director of crucification sequence)
• NEKROMANTIK (75 Min., 1987)
• DER TODESKING (75 Min., 1989)
• NEKROMANTIK 2 -- DIE RÜCKKEHR DER LIEBENDEN TOTEN (103 Min., 1991)
• CORPSE FUCKING ART (60 Min., 1992, Documentary)
• SCHRAMM (75 Min., 1993)
• KONDOM DES GRAUENS (American title: The Killer Condom) (von M. Walz, 100 Min., 1996, Special Effects Supervisor)
• DIE REISE INS GLÜCK /JOURNEY INTO BLISS (von Wenzel Storch, 85 Min. 2004, FX Supervisor, actor)
Music Videos (director & author)
• SHOCK THERAPY: I can't let go (AM-Musik,1995)
• FLEISCHMANN: Ohne Traurigkeit (Sony,1995)
• MUTTER: Neue Zeit (DEG,1996)
• DIE KRUPPS: Rise up (Rough Trade,1997)
• DANCE OR DIE: Teenage Make-up (Polygram,1998)
• TOKTOK: Missy Queen`s gonna die (Warner, 2001)
• COCKBIRDS: Suche Kontakt (Staatsakt, 2006)
• EIN SUBVERSIVER ROMANTIKER IM DEUTSCHEN HORRORFILM:
JÖRG BUTTGEREIT (by Alexander Kluge, 50 Min., 1997)
• DIE GLÄSERNEN SARKOPHAGE (30 Min., 1997, Dokumetation, dctp/RTL)
• LEXX -- THE DARK ZONE: "NOOK" (50 Min., TV-Series, GER/CAN 1998, Show Producer, 2nd Unit director)
• LEXX -- THE DARK ZONE: "791" (50 Min., SF-Series, GER/CAN 1998)
• DIE MONSTERINSEL (45 Min. Dokumentation, WDR 2002)
• SEX MURDER ART -- THE FILMS OF JÖRG BUTTGEREIT (by David Kerekes, UK 1998, 180 S.)
• MONSTER AUS JAPAN GREIFEN AN -- GODZILLA, GAMERA & CO (1998, 180 S.)
• NIGHTMARES IN PLASTIC (von Buttgereit/Ecke/Engel) ( 2001,160 S.)
• JAPAN -- DIE MONSTERINSEL (2006, 256 S.)
Radio Play (director + author)
• SEXY SUSHI ( 45 Min., WDR, 2001)
• FRANKENSTEIN IN HIROSHIMA ( 50 Min.WDR, 2002)
• ED GEIN SUPERSTAR ( 55 Min, WDR 2002)
• BRUCE LEE, DER KLEINE DRACHE (55 Min. WDR 2003)
• INTERVIEW MIT EINEM MONSTER (50 Min. Deutschlandradio 2004)
• HORROR ENTERTAINMENT (50 Min. WDR 2004)
• VIDEO NASTY (50 Min. WDR 2005)
• CAPTAIN BERLIN VERSUS DRACULA (55 Min. WDR 2006)
GABBA GABBA HEY ! (Music by Ramones, 2005, director and author for German version.
Jorg Buttgereit's films can now be found in video stores worldwide, and are available for puchase in the U.S. through Barrel Entertainment (www.barrel-entertainment.com)