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Fegefeuer

Purgatory

Austria 1988
produced by
EPO Film
directed by Willi Hengstler
starring Bobby Prem, Jürgen Goslar, Jeanette Mühlmann, Ingrid Ettlmayer, Hartmut Nolte, Katharina Wressnig, Romeo Sitar
screenplay by Willi Hengstler, Bernhard Seiter, Jack Unterweger, based on the novel by Jack Unterweger, music by Karlheinz Miklin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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With his mother (Jeanette Mühlmann) god-knows-where, young Jack (Romeo Sitar) grows up with his alcoholic grandpa (Jürgen Goslar), who teaches him to lie and cheat and turn everything into money, and teaches him to treat women like shit, including his mother, who once returns and tries to get him back.

Jack's only friend during that time is the young prostitute Marion (Ingrid Ettlmayer), who is something like his mother, his best friend and his girlfriend all rolled into one.

In later life, Jack (now played by Bobby Prem) has problems to stay out of prison, repeatedly he gets into fights and into minor break-ins, and he's soon so messed up that he even rapes Marion, the only person who has ever been good to him. She forgives him even that ...

During all this, Jack desperately tries to find his mother, chasing after her through whorehouse after whorehouse ... however, eventually it is her who catches up with him - in prison, where he has landed for the umpteenth time. She promises him a home once he's out, since she's no longer a prostitute but works at her boyfriend's gas station, but once he asks her to make good her promise, she pushes him away ... but at the gas station, he meets Chris (Katharina Wressnig), an underage girl from a good family - and before long, he has turned her into a whore (literally) and has become her pimp. But another stint in jail breaks up their romance, too, while she is re-released to her upper class family, and when she turns him downupon his release, it's only a matter of time before he's going to explode ... and ultimately he's incarcerated for life for murder (a crime which is never shown and doesn't need to be).

In prison, he starts to write, and ultimately, he becomes a renowned writer ...

 

Fegefeuer was based on Jack Unterweger's autobiography of the same name, which he wrote - and which made him a celebrity - while in prison. Actually, Unterweger was only released two years after the film came out as a model prisoner, and thanks to his literary work quickly became a part of the high society ... and that was when things started to get nasty, because Jack Unterweger was a wolf in sheepskin, he was not at all the resocialized criminal society saw him as, but has after his release become a serial killer, killing at least 9 prostitutes in Europe and the USA between his release in 1990 and 1992, when he was arrested in Florida. Ultimately, Unterweger hung himself in prison ...

 

Of course, this piece of trivia says nothing about Willi Hengstler's film - first and foremost because all of it happened afterwards. The film just tells the life of Jack until his first life-sentence ... and does a pretty good job at that, as instead of presenting the audience with a typically boring bio-pic, Hengstler has turned his plot into a non-formulaic genre piece in stark black-and-white that tells its events in a deliberately non-chronological order, often telling subplots in reverse yet making perfect sense. A competent cast, great camerawork and sets that deliberately do not spell out period piece in large letters further contribute to the inherent quality of the movie.

So whether you see the film as an unusual bio-pic or as an artsy crime drama, it remains unusual and totally fascinating.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD