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March 24, 2016

Movie Review: Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

Based on the true story…ugh, I hate that phrase. HOWEVER, after doing a little research on Fritz Haarmann, I have to say this movie depicts many truths of his life. Though he originally committed his crimes before and after WWI, this flick moved the timeline up to just after WWII because of Nazis or something. 

I don’t know.

Tenderness of the Wolves is a German film from 1973, written by and starring Kurt Raab in the title role. Fritz Haarmann is a well known criminal in the police community. Things like sex offenses, theft, fraud, assault, seduction of minors, homosexuality (which was a crime in Germany until 1994) all kept him on der kommisar’s radar for years. But since the country was in such a rough state after the war, the polizei need all the help they can get and hire Fritz to be a narc.

This actually works out for Fritz very well because by informing on OTHER people, he keeps the police attentions off his own crimes of theft, fraud, and murder. Fritz likes to lure young boys and men back to his apartment, ply them with food and drink, then BITE OUT THEIR FUCKING THROATS IN THE THROES OF PASSION AND ECSTASY. Afterward he chopped them up and either tossed their remains in a local river or sold the flesh as pork or horse meat to his friends.


Eventually the neighbors begin to suspect something might be amiss with Herr Haarmann and all these young folks who check into his ‘roach motel’ (they go in but they never come out). The police set up a sting operation and finally catch Fritz as he’s gnawing on his latest victim - who doesn’t die but is going to need therapy for years. Fritz Haarmann is finally caught and his murder spree comes to an end.

I must collect lives for the Master. THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE!

When I first started watching this I didn’t know it was based on the life of a real serial killer. At the end of the film, the screen titles tell us he was executed in 1925 (and this movie takes place in the 40s). So then I had to go research his life. So much of the movie is true to life - not dramatized. This guy was bat shit crazy but so in control of his secret life that even his close circle of friends, and his boyfriend, didn’t know about the killings or the true nature of the meat they all liked to eat (despite the description of this film, which implies they were cannibals like him - but I don’t think they were intentionally).


Kurt Raab was actually quite mesmerizing as Fritz Haarmann. Not in the “oh he’s so beautiful I can’t stop staring at him, like Jensen Ackles” kind of way. Just something about him kept me engaged in all of his scenes. His manner was smooth and confident; his eyes beckoned; and his warm smile welcomed all he met. Damn, if I were gay, I would have fallen into his trap, too!

Alles klar, Herr Kommisar?

That said, the rest of the acting is average. The editing and overall look of the film are okay. But the worst part of all of it is the pacing. It’s sooooooo sloooooowwwwww. Not the tension building kind of slow. Just molasses in January. The film is only 82 minutes but it felt like 4 hours by the time it ended. So even though there are enjoyable parts in the film, the overall drag of the pacing distracted from them a lot.

Not the greatest film I’ve ever seen. But the subject matter is interesting, if you like true crime based stories, and Kurt Raab is totally worth the watch.

2.5 hatchets (out of 5)

(sorry I couldn't find a trailer with subtitles)

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