Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

Director: Ulli Lommel

Starring: Kurt Raab, Jeff Roden, Margit Carstensen, Ingrid Caven

More info: IMDb

Plot: Based on the same true story that inspired Fritz Lang's M, Ulli Lommel's Tenderness of the Wolves takes an unsettling look at the life of murderer, black marketeer, and police informant Fritz Haarman, a pedophile who used his position to sweep the train stations and pick up young runaway boys. Living in the depression of post-WWI Germany, Haarman lured the boys to his attic apartment with the promise of a warm meal and bed, only to emerge alone the next morning with secondhand clothes and black market "pork."

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

OK, so IMDb has the tagline for this as, "The first gay vampire movie." Well, that's just horseshit and it was clearly a tagline used for a modern video release and not the initial theatrical one. So when I came home from a gig last night ready to escape for a couple of hours, I thought this would be the ticket. While I did expect something completely different, I was not at all disappointed that I wasn't getting the exploitation genre picture that someone led me to believe on IMDb. What I got was a nicely paced, subtle serial killer movie based on true events.

Raab (who also wrote it) plays the killer, Fritz and he seemed to be channeling Peter Lorre from Fritz Lang's M (1931) (an excellent picture, by the way) and a slight nod to Max Schreck in Murnau's NOSFERATU (1922) (one of the best). Fritz is very much the predator who brings home and kills young boys yet his child-like features give him an innocence that he doesn't deserve. He's a monster but one who's attrocities are suspected (initially by us and his neighbors) but not confirmed until well into the film. The real life Fritz killed more than 25 boys from 1919 to 1924. He was executed for his crimes in 1925.

You really don't see very many of the murders and when you do, they're not graphic. It was a bit strange having them served up in this manner but there was a purpose. By the time you get to the end (it's a very short 82 minutes long) and you know the extent to what he's doing, it's entirely justified that we get to see something of his horror and when we see it.

The most unexpected thing that came out of this picture is a song that was played on the radio in the background during one scene. I'd never heard of it before but it captured my attention. It's called, JOHNNY IS THE BOY FOR ME. It's an old Romanian song called, SANIE CU ZURGALAI and I love it. This version below isn't the one heard in the film (that one was slower than the Mary Ford/Les Paul one) but it's close enough.

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