The first thing I want to say before I get into the details about the movie Angst is that Cult Epics know how to release a damn impressive Blu-ray. They excel in packaging, features, and transfers. They might release a movie or two that I don’t like (Nekromantik and Nekromantik 2 spring to mind, as both Blu-ray releases were phenomenal, but the movies themselves were not my cup of tea), but you are always guaranteed a release that has a lot of heart put into the overall package. Okay, with that said, the awesome Blu-ray train keeps on rolling with their release of Angst, an Austrian flick about a serial killer, who on the day of his release, goes on the hunt for his latest victim. The movie itself is based on real-life serial killer Werner Kniesek, who was one sick bastard. The film is certainly weird, but it has a gritty quality that drives home a disturbing feeling throughout the 83-minute runtime. It’s not without its faults, which I will get to in my full review below, but it’s one movie I will be checking out again down the road. Read on to see if you agree…
RUN-TIME: 87 min
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1
AUDIO: German: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French / German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
PRODUCTION DATE: 1983
RELEASE DATE: Sept 8th, 2015
ANGST, photographed by legendary Oscar-winning Polish animator/experimentalist Zbig Rybczynski and scored by Krautrock synth god Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream), is one hell of a gorgeously stylized and shockingly visceral experience: a forgotten classic on the fringes of the slasher cycle. Erwin Leder (Das Boot, Schindler’s List) plays a maniacal killer based on the real-life serial murderer Werner Kniesek. As he stalks through the bland Viennese countryside, Schulze’s music pulses darkly, and Zbig’s innovative first-person camerawork grabs you by the throat, never letting go. Angst is one film that, without any empty hyperbole, we can guarantee you’ll never, ever forget.
A convicted killer who is known only as ‘K’ has been released from prison after a 10-year sentence. He immediately gets to work on finding a new victim, saying to himself that this one will be perfect and he will not get caught this time. After a close run-in with a taxi driver, he flees into the woods and finds an older house that looks to be abandoned. However, the house does have a few tenants, one who is disabled and in a wheelchair and two others, an older lady and her daughter. ‘K’ gets to work on enacting his perfect plan, which doesn’t go exactly as he hoped. If I was to say anymore, it would ruin the movie, so that’s all you get folks.
Angst is very much an exercise in unease. The camera is consistently set up high above the actors, giving the viewer a front row seat to the madness that is unfolding. Occasionally, the camera will shift to dead center in front of ‘K’, making the viewer feel unsettled. The movie is wonderfully shot, with plenty of ‘damn, how did they do that?’ angles. The special features on the Blu-ray thankfully goes into detail on some of the shots and I have to say, even though the cost and time spent on setup was high, I’m glad they went through with what they did, as the movie just wouldn’t have been the same.
It isn’t just camera shots that make Angst the cult classic it is today. A lot of the praise needs to go to actor Erwin Leder, who plays our lead psychopath. The entire film hinges on Erwin Leder and I can say with 100 percent certainty, he excels phenomenally. The movie puts us into the killer’s head, with a running voice-over of his thought process, which consists of quotes from real life serial killers, mainly Peter Kürten, known as the ‘Vampire of Düsseldorf’. Because of this filming choice, there is hardly any dialogue in the movie, which means we must rely on Leder’s physical performance and if the Director wanted weird and disturbing, that is exactly what he got, in spades. Everyone else in the film is basically fodder, with hardly any of them being real actors, which does go to show in a few scenes. There is actually one scene in particular that brought me out of the movie due to the strange actions of the characters. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say this, if I see a serial killer tying up my daughter in front of me, I’m going to do something more than just stand there like a dummy. Was it the fault of the director and the scripts or was it the actor not knowing what to do? Hard to say, but it certainly comes off as the worst scene in the movie.
As for all the hype on the gore, which from all the stories I heard about the movie, as to how it was banned in places, rated XXX in the US and only shown in pornographic cinemas in Europe, I was expecting a flick full of gore and extreme, nasty sexual situations, but instead, all I got was one scene, which mind you was bloody, but hardly anything that would make me squirm in discomfort. Okay, I will admit we are desensitized to this type of violence nowadays and hell, you would probably see this on the latest crime show on TV nowadays, but even back in ’83, I can’t see why this was treated as it was. Seems unfair to me.
Even with some questionable character choices and a paltry display of gore (at least nowadays,) Angst delivers a film that throws you into the mind of a sick psychopath, who is seeking out the perfect murder. Much like the murders themselves, the film doesn’t come off as perfect as planned, with a few mishaps along the way, but with some amazing camera work and a superb performance from Erwin Leder, Angst is one flick worth slicing into.
Cult Epics is a company that knows how to deliver a Blu-ray release. The video for Angst is phenomenal, the audio is fantastic, which is wonderful, as the soundtrack from Klaus Schulze is sublime, which reminded me of Claudio Simonetti’s work in Demons; and the special features are to die for. There is honestly nothing negative that can be said about this Blu-ray. If you see a release with the Cult Epics label on it, you can rest easy knowing that a fabulous package is waiting for you behind that cellophane.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- New High-Definition Transfer
- New HD Trailer
- New DTS HD MA 5.1 Surround
- Optional playback with or without Prologue (I highly recommend watching the prologue on your second viewing)
- Introduction by Gaspar Noé
- Featurette: Erwin Leder in Fear
- Interview with director Gerald Kargl by Jörg Buttgereit
- Interview with cinematographer Zbigniew Rybzcynski
- Audio Commentary by Gerald Kargl conducted by film critic Marcus Stiglegger
- 40 Page booklet includes interviews with Gerald Kargl, Erwin Leder, Silvia Rabenreither, Illustrated with rare photos and Werner Kniesek original Kurier articles
- Collectible Blu-ray Slipcase and Sleeve
What more can I say that I haven’t already said? Angst is a movie worth checking out for anyone that has any sort of interest in the disturbing and downright mad. The Blu-ray from Cult Epics is like the yummy icing on the bloody cake, which you’ll gladly die for just to get a piece. Highly recommended!