A well enough acted tale of a child (Sebastian Urzendowsky) then teenager (Tobias Schenke) with a compulsion to to kill, told in flashbacks as a young man's confession to a psychiatrist (Ulrike Bliefert, The Child I Never Was (Eine Lang Kurze Hosen Tragen, 2002) never really captures the imagination.
It relies too much on the "true story" angle to hold attention, but in fact it is a fictionalized version of the life of homosexual psychopath Jurgen Bartsch, who became notorious after his capture in the 1960s.
The shocking component is, of course, the fact that Jurgen's rape-murders of four boys began when he was still a boy himself. With minimal on-screen violence except by implication, the unsettling portrait unfolds. Despite the inherent horror of such a child & youth having existed, the script & reenactments manage to remain colorless & banal.
It kind of inherently feeds into homophobic delusions about dangerous queers without really being an entertaining film about a psycho. The script makes every "excuse" possible for Jurgen's nature -- an aloof insufficiently loving family, bullied in Catholic boys' school, molested by a pedarastic priest, the lunacy of religion itself -- but such easy & ultimately insincere psychoanalysis is a poor excuse for a story.
Ultimately it is shown he was a child-murdering child before any of life's crap got to him, except for the bastardy which predates bad experience. So if the psychoanalysis is to apply at all, the implication is that illegitimate children are more likely to become psycho killer homos. Foolishness in addition to the monotony thus become the film's chief attributes.
Fritz Haarman was Germany's most famous serial killer, preying on homeless boys. His history was the basis for Fritz Lang's classic M (1931), & what is likely Uli Lommel's best directorial effort, The Tenderness of Wolves (1973). & Alfred Doblin's twice filmed novel Berlin Alexanderplatz.
In the docudrama The Deathmaker (Der Totmacher, 1995), one feels trapped watching a long clinical interview between a psychiatrist (Jurgen Hentsch) & Fritz (Gotz George) in front of a freaked out stenographer (Pierre Franckh). The acting is excellent, & it all comes off as a live stage play.
Unfortunately, when stage plays are just filmed rather than adapted to the distinct requirements of cinema, they tend to be pretty damned boring, gutted of the immediacy of an actual live performance.
There are many moments of insightful presentation of Fritz as a giggly egotistically self-deluded & possibly borderline retarded definitely manipulative nutjob. But in the main the film is as exciting as watching daisies slowly turn toward the sun.
Because the dialogue is condensed from six weeks of transcripts of actual clinical interviews with an historical madman, there's a certain educative feeling to it all. And anyone who doesn't ordinarily watch scary movies might be intensely horrified by a giggly madman talking about biting the necks of boys then hacking them into small enough pieces to flush down the toilet.
But it seems to me to suffer from the same disease of tedium that afflicts most films that take a visual medium then leave out anything visual, & merely talks without motion.
An art film about a psychopath may have been intended, but to me it was barely watchable. Whoever prefers books & articles about True Crime might enjoy this more than could I.
The director's interest in homosexual sadism goes deeper than for just one film. And since deviance & violence is easily mistaken for avant garde by spoilt & banal creatures, Romuald Karmakar has gotten himself embraced as a maverick artiste in the rarified world of film festival stooges & mavins.
The DVD for Deathmaker contains two short documentary films that gay masochists will enjoy wacking off to.
His short Coup De Boule (Headbutt, 1987) resembles a sailor-fetish film by Ken Ungar. A series of hunky soldiers introduce themselves & their ranks, sometimes flex their muscles or take off some of their clothes, then wack their heads as hard as they can into doors, invariably proud of themselves for doing so.
This lasts eight minutes, then it ends. It's truly stupid but I was amused to see these men really proud of their foolishness & unaware that the filmmaker is both making fun of them & getting horny about their studly stupid game.
The third film, less than half an hour long, Demontage IX, Unternehmen Stahlglocke (Demontage IX, Operation Steelbell, 1991) consists of internationally known super-masochist Wolfgang Flatz hung by his ankles between two large pieces of sheet metal with another man swinging him from one side to the other, pounding him against the sheet metal.
It comes off more as documentation for a minor work of performance art, & not a film proper. But I'm sure anyone who shares the performer's peculiar deviance would find it truly inspirational.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl