Director: Jorg Buttgereit
Screenplay: Jorg Buttgereit
Cast: Jörg Buttgereit, Norbert Hähnel, Marion Koob-Liebing, Patricia Leipold, Bernd Daktari Lorenz
Synopsis: A man falls in love with a woman, only for her to start a romance with another man and break his heart to an irreparable degree. Pregnant, the woman's child nine months later from this event will be a personification of the scorned love at its most extreme.
The short film Buttgereit made before Nekromantik (1987), it does reflect the enthusiasm of genre and horror film fans who would make their own films in response to this passion. In the eighties this proved to be a mine for directors who would develop cult reputations and even go to Hollywood - The Evil Dead (1981) for Sam Raimi and Bad Taste (1987) for Peter Jackson perfect examples, whilst Nekromantik for Buttgereit himself gave him notoriety and a cult following to this day. The enthusiasm is enhanced in these particular films, from this era, by the desire to improve in technical skill and push what they could do in terms of ideas they could put onscreen, and while Hot Love is less polished than Nekromantik, it already establishes a desire for invention not to mention Buttgereit's far from conventional use of genre tropes by wrapping them around a drama. As Nekromantik is actually a black comedy drama about a man obsessed with death, Hot Love is the depiction of a relationship breaking down exaggerated to its gooiest point.
It starts as a sweet romantic affair between two people, complimented by a montage of a relationship building up you'd find in Hollywood films of the era and still today, only for an ominous voice of a God-like force to speak in second person and reveal that the relationship will be doomed. That Buttgereit decided to make a short film like this, when the short he made a year before Horror Heaven was a compilation of horror and kaiju film tributes that embraced their lo-fi effects, showed an interesting side of Buttgereit wanting to bring potentially personal and idiosyncratic material to his work. It immediately brings out a lot of virtue in Hot Love, as it plays out as a melodrama for half its length, going as far as having the second boyfriend admit to a doctor with awkwardness the child isn't his, only to switch tone soon after in a graphic suicide. That it turns into a splatter film is not a jarring change in tone; it's reminiscent of the films of the Kuchar Brothers and Jack Smith from the sixties and seventies, which were melodramatic works that could suddenly surge into content from x-rated b-movies out of the blue. The different is that in Hot Blood you get something out of a Japanese body horror film from this era, a toy baby spewing foam and someone getting stabbed with a broken bottle.
Part of its charm is the improvisation that was used in lieu to obvious budget restrictions, such as the decision to depict the birth of a child with the spread open bottom half of a woman being made of paper-mache, a toy baby pushed between the fake legs with what appears to be oat meal pasted onto it. This improvisation is as much the reason why films of its ilk can be so entertaining. Also significant is the music, which is a memorable part of Hot Love as a short. This as well would continue on in the next Buttgereit project and is a huge virtue of Nekromantik.
Abstract Spectrum: Grotesque/Psychotronic
Abstract Rating (High/Medium/Low/None): None
The one disappointment with Hot Love is that, unlike Nekromantik, it's pretty straightforward in tone and couldn't be added to the Abstract List. The events in the short escalate to an unconventional tone, especially when a grown man grows from a place they shouldn't, covered in solid goo, and starts rampaging about, but it isn't weird enough.
To have access to Hot Love, on the UK Nekromantik Blu-Ray, is a good thing. While it may seem unsubstantial compared to the later feature film, it wins you over with its original slant on its subject and avoiding becoming predictable or sloppy in its creation. It's a reminder of the joys of fan made films whilst its moments of seriousness do catch you unexpectedly.