Angst / Fear (1983)

Director: Gerald Kargl
Starring:Erwin Leder, Edith Rosset, Josefine Lakatha, Sylvia Rabenreither.  Austria. 1h 15m

I am constantly looking for films about serial killers that aren’t total let downs and after years of searching it seems I missed the boat as one of the greatest and more accurately disturbing films was released when I was a toddler, but despite its age it really hasn’t lost any of it’s vivacity and manages to detail the gruesome slaughtering of one family by a repetitive mass murder Werner Kniesek.

The film emerges from a behind bars, the unnamed killer eagerly eats his breakfast while a gentle and feverish narration details how he ended up incarcerated. After attacking his mother, he received 4 years but it was the murder of another woman that got him a 10 year sentence. The film is instantly unique for the use of some very unconventional camera angles, the camera dashes from ground level looking up to above head shots, almost afraid to look at this human eye to eye. While leaving the prison he’s already formulated his plans to kill again and jumps into action as soon as he steps foot back into the normal world. Visiting a cafe he eyes up two girls, but they don’t fit into this “concrete plan”.

Jumping into a cab, he’s lucked out as the female driver reminds me of an ex girlfriend, one he killed by strangulation, and he makes an attempt at it again, but this driver is smart and snaps on the break, frightening the killer who scrambles out the car and runs into the woods.

After finding a secluded gated home, that appears to be mostly empty, he feverishly scans the location and breaks in. A young disabled man wheels up to him, calling him Daddy, releasing this he’s no challenge he continues to scout out the house, collecting a knife and realising that two women are returning to the house, the killer is in pure ecstasy looking forwards to the kills.

Drawing on the real life events and accounts from the killer, the film is pretty accurate in rest of the details of the kills, which it presents with huge amounts of energy and clarity, which resulted in the film being banned for the graphic violence. The camera really centres in on each character and continues to bounce around through different crazy angles, adding to the chaotic  nature of the killer and his frenzied kill spree, which gets really violent and disgusting for as long as possible, and at the height of these “moments” the film takes a slight art house twist, a cultured violence one might say.

The film has some similarities to
Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) but without all the boring bits, Angst just literally lets rips and sinks into the darker recesses of a  killers psyche with the addition of a constant narrative set against a dense booming electronic soundtrack from Klaus Schulze’s who spent some time with Tangerine Dream.

Sadly this was Gerald Kargl last feature length movie, he’s made a range of documentaries since but I feel he could have pumped out a few more disturbing films if he was inclined to do so, he’d probably make Tom Six blush… but the greatest effort was easily input by Erwin Leder, who definitely put in a ton of energy and dealt with the sordid matter quite well, his lanky frame and darting eyes are just as iconic as his role in Das Boot (1981).

This is truly a fascinating insight into a dark and violent events and possibly as close as a cinema viewer can get to a serial killer and waltz out alive, what a rush!!

Rating  8/10

R: Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986),
L: A-Z of Serial Killer Films, A-Z of Austrian Cinema.
A:Getting a Serial Killer movie to work
5s: Erwin Leder

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