There are two things I can look forward to when checking out an Arrow Video Blu-ray release. One is that the package is going to be fantastic, the features will be plentiful and the overall value will be extremely high. The other thing and this is the main problem, I can never quite know whether I’ll like the movie or not. Tenderness of the Wolves looked like it was going to be a good movie. I enjoy flicks that are based on a real life serial killers (check out my review for Angst, also based on a real-life serial killer), so I figured this was going to be a great movie to check out. Unfortunately, my tastes are definitely not in the same ballpark as this film. To me, it was slow, boring and uneventful. Also, way too much teenage male nudity for me. If, with all that said, you’re still interested in seeing how the movie and the Blu stack up, read on…
SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/B RATING: 18/R PRODUCTION DATE: 1973 RELEASE DATE: Oct 20, 2015
Fritz Haarmann, aka the Butcher of Hanover and the Vampire of Hanover, was a German serial killer responsible for the murders of two dozen boys and young men during the so-called ‘years of crisis’ between the wars. His case would partly inspire Fritz Lang’s M, and its central character portrayed by Peter Lorre, as well as this forgotten gem from 1973. Tenderness of the Wolves treats the viewer to a few weeks in the company of a killer. Baby-faced and shaven-headed, in a manner that recalls both M and F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, Haarmann is a fascinating, repulsive figure. Using his status as a police informant to procure his victims, he dismembers their bodies after death and sells the flesh to restaurants, dumping the remainder out of sight. This isn’t an easy film to watch, but it certainly gets under the skin… Produced by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who also supplies a shifty cameo), Tenderness of the Wolves provided two of his regular actors with a means of expanding their careers. Ulli Lommel – later responsible for the infamous video nasty The Boogeyman – made his directorial debut, while Kurt Raab wrote the screenplay as well as delivering an astonishing performance as Haarmann.
Tenderness of the Wolves is based on the life of Fritz Haarmann, known as both the Butcher of Hanover and the Vampire of Hanover. After reading his life story on Wikipedia, I know see that the movie does follow fairly close to what happened back then, which is incredibly dark and disturbing (if you like to know more, check out the wiki page). I do have to give points to the movie trying very hard to properly convey what may or may not have happened back then, however, even with saying that, I still didn’t enjoy the movie.
The flick moves along at a snail’s pace, barely linking scenes together, as we follow several days in the life of killer Fritz Haarmann, a man of peculiar tastes. Due to his background in criminal activity, he becomes a police informer and this allows him to “arrest” young boys and take them back to his home, where he feeds them and then proceeds to bite into their necks and kill them. All his friends are pretty much aware of what he does, but they don’t seem to really care one way or another. It just didn’t seem that realistic to me to see all these oblivious individuals just hanging around Fritz and not giving a damn as to what he does or where that special meat comes from. The only person who takes any interest in what he is doing is one of the women who lives in the same apartment building, and that’s only because she sees him hauling something wrapped in a bloody sheet and thrown in the river. Do the police believe her? Not really. It’s incompetence set on high and if this is really what happened back then, dear god, I’m amazed they ever caught him.
To some people, Tenderness of the Wolves is going to be a good movie and I see no problem in that. The acting by Kurt Raab is fantastic, as he hits all the right notes in conveying a pretty boy, who looks like the friendliest man on the block, but no amount of stellar acting saved me from being bored. In the end, it just didn’t tickle my fancy.
Spite not liking the movie, the Blu-ray from Arrow Video is top shelf quality all around. The video is crisp and clean and the audio is loud and clear. I have no complaints on the presentation with this flick and I can’t see why anyone else would either. As for the special features, the hits keep on coming, as the disc is full of interviews and a wonderful booklet featuring plenty of new information on the film. I mean, just look at that list below and see what I’m talking about. You’ll be busy for quite a while and for any fans of the film, this is a must buy for the features alone.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
New high definition digital transfer prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 sound • Newly translated optional English subtitles
Audio commentary by director Ulli Lommel, moderated by Uwe Huber
Introduction by Lommel
The Tender Wolf, a newly-filmed interview with Lommel
Photographing Fritz, a newly-filmed interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
Haarmann’s Victim Talks, a newly-filmed interview with actor Rainer Will
An appreciation by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA and Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tony Rayns, editor of the first English-language book on Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Tenderness of the Wolves was not my type of movie, as I felt it was a tad too boring and distasteful. However, for fans of the flick, which I’m sure there are plenty of, the Blu-ray from Arrow Video is a must buy and worth the ticket price.
Four zombie brains are being given to the overall package from Arrow Video. The film, on the other hand, is not being rated, as I don’t have a proper rating for something I just didn’t enjoy, based on personal tastes.