Ulli Lomell has had a prolific career spanning decades, genre and showing the seedy underbelly to us wholesale. I don’t pretend to be an expert in his work, but I know it when I see it. I feel shocked. I feel changed, but I don’t always adore it. My favorite Lomell movie is Boogeyman which makes sense since I’m a Horror guy. With the recent release of Tenderness of the Wolves by Arrow Video in the US, we get to take a look at an early work by Lomell that feels like a psychological thriller drawn straight from the film noir era of filmmaking with comparison drawn to one of my favorite silent Horror pictures, M.
Tenderness is as raw as any of Lomell’s pictures, but with beautiful designed characters that are terrifying and emotive. The connection to Fritz Lang’s M and Peter Lorre’s Hans Beckert is unmistakable and one of the first things that got me into this picture. The creepiness that exudes from performances carefully gilded to feel realistic and convey the true nature of a serial murderer on which Tenderness of the Wolves is based.
The transfer is a gorgeous and is what you’ve come to expect from Arrow. Lomell’s first directorial effort is treated well. The extra package includes introduction and commentary with Lomell as well as a newly recorded interview. To appreciate this release in full, make sure to enjoy Stephen Trower’s discussion. He always provide background and context for the release.
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.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
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