Sunday, October 28, 2012

ANGST (1983)

I sympathize with people who are honestly dealing with mental issues, like the guy you see riding the bus who is oblivious that he is wearing his pants on his headSure, he might make your morning latte experience really really uncomfortable, but at least he’s not hurting anyone. When he eventually looks down (very eventually) and realizes his pants are in the wrong place, he feels bad and vows to try and fix the part of his brain that is responsible for maintaining trouser placement. Sure, he’ll probably keep screwing up, maybe one day accidentally choking himself with his own pants-scarf, but at least there’s an effort there to recognize mental failure

However, don't get me started on those full blown nutbars that don’t care just how fucking crazy they are.  These people should be suited for a funny tux and locked up in a padded cell, but unfortunately, bureaucrats or whoever let these guys out before the batshit has been forcibly squeezed out of their noggins. 

One great example is the crazy asshole at the center of Angst, an Austrian take on the serial killer movie (not endorsed by all of Austria; I just mean an Austrian dude made it). He's released from prison after only ten years despite killing an old woman, although maybe Austrians find old people as annoying as I do and therefore are lenient as far as codgercide is concerned.  He had previously served 4 years for stabbing his mother, and if his mother is as annoying as most mothers, that sounds about right.  Anyway, quoting the psychopath, "when they asked me about my dreams, I told them about flowers".  As a result, the doctors think he's been rehabilitated.  That's the problem with trying to figure out how crazy somebody is; you can't really get inside of their head.  They should invent an EKG that lights up when some dude is thinking about stabbing a hooker.  Maybe one day.

In actuality, he has spent a chunk of his prison term planning the perfect murder.  Not a murder where he'll get off scot free, but one that perfectly fulfills his sick desires.  He gets out and considers killing two hot chicks sitting in cafe, and then a female cab driver, but neither opportunity is ideal.  However, after wandering through the woods, he comes across an isolated house with no one inside.  He breaks in and waits for an elderly woman and her daughter and invalid son to return home, and that's when the shit hits the proverbial fan.  

That's the plot, but really, Angst isn't about plot.  It’s a portrait of a schizo psychopath who is at odds with the world and driven to lash out.  He lives in his own head, obsessing over his next murder and "reminiscing" about his troubled childhood.  He is completely outside of the wavelength of humanity, but this disconnect is mainly rendered visually. He is at odds with other people within the frame, as they are represented as fragments or imposing faces judging him, filmed in distended angles. 

Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven is also a cinematic portrait of a schizophrenic at odds with his jarring environment, putting the viewer in a schizophrenic's shoes.  That movie has some visual similarities to this one, but in this case, the camera also floats and hovers at strange angles as it follows the killer, like the gliding steadicam shots of Halloween pushed to the edge of madness. There's even use of a camera harness like in Frankenheimer’s Seconds, which keeps the character in close-up while giving the impression of the world around him swirling and overwhelming him.  

Here is a stripped down slasher movie from the point-of-view of the slasher, transformed into a cinematic experience that defies narrative and suspense plotting (and therefore isn't a slasher, so maybe I should come up with a better description, but whatevs).  Everybody has a little nutbag in them, and Angst tries to tap into that and force you to confront it.  The dark minimal synth score from Klaus Schulze (formerly of Ash Ra Tempel and Tangerine Dream) certainly helps.  It gives the feeling that you're locked in a cramped room with Kraftwerk as it slowly dawns on you that they have given up on life and might be taking you with them.

P.S. Review #9 in the Lazy Baker Halloween Horror Countdown.  I got this shit.


  1. Sounds intense, man. Speaking of intense, that Kids in the Hall sketch is probably the darkest thing they ever did. Yikes. Anyway, this Angst flick reminds me of Schramm, in that, it's not as pretty-looking as your average Euro-slasher.

    1. Schramm is a good call. I didn't think about that. I guess Schramm is more about spending time with a killer in his room, where as this dude is out and about.

  2. Earlier today, I walked into my local video store, like I do every week, and what did I see sitting on the counter? A copy of Angst! It had just arrived.

    I don't know what's going on, but this is the second or third time this has happened. You post a review for a movie I never heard of, and bam, it's sitting on the new release shelf a couple of hours later. Freaky.

    1. Even freakier is that a fellow Torontonian recommended the movie to me. Is that the right word? Torontonian?