• Angst

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: September 8tht, 2015.
    Director: Gerald Kargl
    Cast: Edwin Leder, Silvia Rabenreither, Rudolf Götz, Edith Rosset
    Year: 1983
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Gerald Kargl and based on the exploits of Austrian murderer Werner Kniesek, 1983’s Angst begins when a man (Edwin Leder) is let out of prison. He’s served his time and is released into the general population. From here he heads to a diner and debates picking up two pretty teenage girls – it’s made very clear early on in the film that this man has a lot of nasty thoughts going through his head, we hear all of this play out in his first person narration. He realizes, however, that this plan won’t work.

    He hails a cab and starts to take the shoelace out of his shoe so that he can strangle the driver but she sees him up to something in her rear-view mirror, stops the car and manages to get him out. From here, he wanders through the woods and then winds up at a massive home inhabited by three people – a handicapped man in a wheelchair (Rudolf Götz), an older woman (Edith Rosset) and a pretty younger woman (Silvia Rabenreither). He then proceeds to murder them, but he takes his time….

    This is grim stuff to be sure but it’s very well done. Gerald Kargl and cinematographer Zbigniew Rybczynski go for realism here rather than sensationalism. As such, we get quite a few scenes shot with a handheld camera (the picture gets pretty jumpy sometimes for this reason) that give all of this a very effective documentary feel. On this level, the movie works on the same sort of wave length as Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. The narration, provided by Robert Hunger-Bühler, paints a very clear picture of what is going through this man’s head as he goes about his business and the stoic delivery of that narration, combined with the visuals, makes for a rather unsettling viewing experience. Adding to this is a bizarre synth heavy score from Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze that winds up suiting the mood of the movie quite perfectly.

    The murders in the film are pretty vicious. It’s rough enough watching the killer take out a handicapped man and then an old lady, they get our sympathies immediately simply because of the fact that they are who they are, but in many ways they get off easy. Not surprisingly, it’s the young woman who gets the worst of it and the movie toys with us in that there is a period here where we think, however briefly, that she just might escape. No such luck, and Kargl gives us a scene here that’s very reminiscent in some ways of the infamous tunnel scene in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible.

    As far as the performances go, because there’s so little actual dialogue here the cast do most of their acting with body language. Edwin Leder is fantastic as the killer. He takes things to the point where he’s so convincing that it’s actually jarring to watch him here. He’s got a bit of a Klaus Kinski style wild-eyed look to him that helps ensure he has the right type of look to pull this off but he really goes all in when the movie needs him too. Everyone else is just plain sympathetic. Rudolf Götz, Edith Rosset and Silvia Rabenreither are all convincing enough as characters really being put through Hell.


    Angst arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The transfer is pretty solid, showing nice detail, particularly in close up shots. Some scenes are a bit softer than others, likely how they were shot, but this seems like a pretty accurate representation of how the movie should look. Blacks are pretty solid, colors are nicely reproduced and the disc has a pretty solid bit rate so there aren’t any compression issues. There isn’t much in the way of print damage at all, just the odd speck here and there, while the film’s grain structure is obvious throughout, there are no waxy skin tones or noise reduction smearing problems. This looks really good.

    The main audio option on the disc is a German language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, though an optional dubbed French language track is also included in Dolby Digital 2.0. Removable subtitles are provided in English only. The lossless track here is pretty solid. The score sounds good, it’s understated in spots but that’s to the movie’s benefit, while the narration is crisp and clear. What little dialogue there is in the movie has an appreciable naturalness to it while the track remains free of any hiss or distortion.

    Supplements are interesting and plentiful, starting with an audio commentary by featuring director Gerald Kargl moderated by German film critic Marcus Stiglegger that goes into a lot of detail about the making of the picture. Kargl talks about casting the film, he explains why certain scenes use the camera angles that they do, the locations, the music, the film’s release history, where a lot of the ideas for the story came from and quite a bit more. This is a really interesting and informative track and definitely worth taking the time to listen to.

    There are also a few featurettes included on the disc, starting with Erwin Leder In Fear, which gets the film’s leading man in front of the camera for twenty-one minutes to talk about what it was like working on such a dark project. He also winds up giving us an interesting look at some of the locations used in the film. Director Gerald Kargl also shows up here in an interview conducted by Jorg Buttgeriet in 2003. It runs just under half an hour here and they speak about the events that inspired the movie as well as what it was like working with Leder on the project, the film’s distribution (or lack thereof) and quite a bit more. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary but it’s still worth watching and quite interesting. The film’s cinematographer, Zbigniew Rybzcynski, who talks for thirty-five minutes or so about his work behind the camera on the film, his working relationship with Kargl, his thoughts on the film, the intracicies of some of the setups used in this picture and more.

    The disc also includes an optional seven minute introduction by Gaspar Noé who talks about how he first learned of this film and his experiences trying to track it down before then elaborating on its importance and influence. Also included here is the optional prologue to the film that the distributor made Kergl include with the film when it played theaters – this provides some context as to what our lead was imprisoned for and offers a bit more of an explanation as to his character’s actions. It’s not necessary and the movie plays better without it, but it’s good that it has been included here.

    Menus and chapter selection round out the extras along with trailers for the feature and for Jorg Buttgereit’s Schramm. The disc comes packaged in a nice slipcover featuring cover art different from that used on the insert. There’s also a hefty forty-page full color booklet included in here that has an introduction written by Cult Epics’ Nico B., interviews with Gerald Kargl, Erwin Leder and Silvia Rabenreither, an essay by Carl Andersen, and a batch of rare photos and articles on Werner Kniesek, whose murders inspired the film in the first place. Morbidly fascinating stuff!

    The Final Word:

    Angst is pretty intense stuff – a weird mix of art film and horror picture that benefits from some really strong acting and a few startlingly grisly set pieces. Cult Epics has brought the film to Blu-ray in style, loading the disc with extras and presenting it uncut and in very good shape with strong audio too. This is a pretty comprehensive release of an unforgettable film.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      This is a uniquely well-made film and I'm glad it finally has a proper release. Makes sense Noe participates on the extras since it's obvious it influenced I Stand Alone (particularly the intros involving the character histories and then all the inner monologue) and Irreversible (the tunnel scene you mentioned and then all those crazy camera setups). I only got my copy in the mail yesterday so I haven't gotten a chance to watch all the extras yet. I'm wondering if they touch on the realism aspect of the character. They didn't make him an expert in his execution. Although still a very dangerous and sick individual, he comes off as quite spastic and clumsy. I found that an interesting twist on the usual serial killer theme.