On November 3rd, 2015, Arrow Video released Ulli Lommel’s debut film, ‘Tenderness of the Wolves,’ which is a glimpse into the life of notorious German serial killer, Fritz Haarmann, who seduced boys and young men, then tore out their throats and sold them as pork to local restaurants.
The film opens with a Woman in bed awoken by the sound of chopping from the other side of her wall. She knocks and asks Herr Haarmann if she will get some tomorrow, to which he replies, maybe some bones. He continues chopping and the Woman goes to sleep.
The next night, Fritz Haarmann’s (Kurt Raab, also the writer of the film) is sleeping next to a young naked man in his apartment, when they are raided by Kommissar Braun (Wolfgang Schenck) and the German police who take both men into custody.While he gets ready, he kicks over a cloth, and covers up some bones. When asked what that was, Haarmann responds that it is old rubbish.
The police have a rather long wrap sheet on Haarmann, but opt to use him as an informant rather than send him to jail, as he deals with some less than desirable citizens. He gets an official I.D. and goes to work, using it to pick up a young man at the train station. Back at the apartment, Fritz seduces him with wine and food, then proceeds to undress him, explaining how he saved him from the police and that he always helps young people find a job and a home.
In the morning, Fritz walks down the stairs carrying a covered bowl when Frau Lindner (Margit Carstensen) stops him, complaining about all the noise throughout the night and calling him vermin. Another neighbor comes to his aid, insuring that he is a good man, but that doesn’t ease Frau Lindner’s mind. Fritz delivers bowl to Louise (Brigitte Mira) at the restaurant across the street and sells it as pork. That evening, he has dinner with Louise and a group of people, who are indulging in the pork dinner and making jokes at Fritz’s expense. One of the people is Fritz’s main lover and partner in crime, Hans (Jeff Roden). In the morning, Fritz attempts to kick Hans out, but quickly takes him back because, he loves him, and Hans also knows the truth.
On patrol that night, Haarmann is approached by a young man needing money, who ends up going home with him, but will never be heard from again. Then, with Hans in tow the next morning, Haarmann goes around dressed up as a priest and grifting people out of old clothes from their missing family members for “charity,” and run afoul of Frau Lindner. Haarmann and Hans peddle their wares to a barter and trade the clothes for some canned goods. When they come back to Haarmann’s apartment, they are confronted by Frau Lindner, who demands an apology from Hans for spitting at her and advises that she is losing her patience with him.
A Little Boy in a blue hat comes and knocks on Frau Lindner’s door looking for Fritz. She tells the Boy to steer clear of him and mistakenly looks up at Fritz’s door. The Little Boy goes to leave, then after seeing Frau Lindner close her door, he goes up to Fritz’s. The next day, Haarmann is walking along the railroad tracks gives the blue hat to another Little Boy.
That night, spying out her window, Frau Lindner sees Haarmann walk out the back of their building with 2 large bundles. She follows him and sees him dump them into the river, which ultimately sets in motion the downfall of Fritz Haarmann when she takes her suspicions to the police.
Fritz Haarmann was a monster. Like a mad wolf, he preyed upon little boys, young men, and even grown men; luring them to his home, seducing them with food and alcohol, then tearing out their throats and performing sexual acts postmortem before he dumped what was left in the river. Haarmann didn’t have the best life growing up, but that is really no excuse for the heinous acts he committed. He was sentenced to death by beheading. Kurt Raab played the part of Fritz almost too convincingly. With his clean-shaven head and pale skin, he had a vague resemblance to another German monster, Nosferatu and Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) from Fritz Lang’s ‘M’.
With its frank depiction of homosexuality and frequent male nudity, and on one occasion, necrophilia, ‘Tenderness of the Wolves’ most certainly is not a film for children, or even the timid viewer. With that said, ‘Tenderness of the Wolves’ is a very well-made film, and is more of a day-in-the-life film, rather than a having traditional plot.
Arrow’s hi-def transfer from the original negative is so pristine, that you can almost feel the coldness of Haarmann and the environment around him. And with the new interviews with Ulli Lommel and DP Jürgen Jürges, this is an Arrow release not to miss.
- New high definition digital transfer prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
- New translated English subtitles
- The Tender Wolf – a brand-new in-depth interview with director Ulli Lommel
- Brand-new interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
- Newly-filmed appreciation by film historian and expert on European horror cinema Stephen Thrower
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
- Illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tony Rayns