Post Mortem – The First Ever Hungarian Horror Feature
‘Post Mortem’, by director Péter Bergendy, is the first ever Hungarian Horror feature. During the freezing winter of 1918, a wandering, post mortem photographer, ends up in a small Hungarian village that’s overrun by ghosts of the past. As he becomes more closely acquainted with life at the village, he feels increasingly like he must escape it.
As a result of the destruction caused by World War I and the Spanish Flu, countless spirits have become stranded in our world. Tomás, a young post mortem photographer, wanders into a small village in Hungary. He then meets Anna, a ten-year-old orphan girl, and perhaps his own conscious mind. The noises in the night, the village enveloped in hostility, the strange deaths, and the shadowy figures appearing in his photographs, all prompt him to leave as soon as possible.
Only a vision in the night and the certainty that ghosts exist, make Tomás return to the village, his conscience and desire for action awake. He decides that with the help of the instruments at his disposal, he will investigate the ghosts’ intentions and will find a way to get free of them. The little girl accompanies Tomás’s exciting exploration through all its dangers, but they find no clear answers; all the while, the spirits wreak greater havoc as each moment passes.
The psychology of horror
Post Mortem is the first ever full-feature Hungarian horror film. As a kid, Péter Bergendy loved horror movies. Despite horror films being banned in socialist Hungary, he managed to see the best of them. Born in 1964, he got his first camera from his grandfather at the age of six. From that moment film became part of his life.
Together with his creative producer and partner, Gábor Hellebrandt, Bergendy wanted to create a ghost story which, in addition to its psychological content, was also closely related to Hungary. “We conjured up the ghosts from a time of great loss in Hungarian history, during the Spanish Flu pandemic directly after the first World War.” Bergendy originally graduated as psychologist, where he wrote his thesis on the psychology of the horror film; “because horror tells us something important about the unconscious mind, revealing the workings and problems of the psyche in the language of ancient human symbols and archetypes…It’s really exciting.”
Award winning director
For ten years, Bergendy was the editor-in-chief of the Hungarian issue of German Cinema Magazine. He worked as an academic researcher for the Hungarian Film Institute, and also as editor and director in Hungarian television. For 25 years now he’s been ditched in Hungarian and international commercial directing, his multiple award-winning commercials are shown across the world. His first feature film, ‘Stop Mom Teresa!’, was released in 2004 and received international recognition. His cold war spy film noir, ‘The Exam’, won the New Director’s Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2012, and his next thriller, ‘Trezor’, was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2020. It was the first ever Hungarian tv-film to be nominated.