Controversial filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irréversible, Enter the Void, Love) recently cited the little-known 1983 Austrian serial killer movie Angst (which had finally seen a DVD release) as one of his favorite films, praising it thusly: “It’s got the most amazing camera work in the history of cinema. Not so many movies that really impress when it comes to the camera work… But the camera work of this movie is so real. It added to a very violent story… And it’s got a [unique] voiceover. But the mix of that cruelty, the voiceover, and the camera put in positions that you’ve never seen before made me be obsessed with the movie.” The film’s cinematography, by Oscar-winning Polish animator/experimentalist Zbigniew Rybczynski (who is also credited as co-screenwriter with director Gerald Kargl), is special indeed. Rybczynski’s camera is literally all over the place—frequent, soaring aerial assaults by crane when you don’t half expect them; roving dollies from underneath or astride the action; fluid, angular tracking shots that follow our protagonist (an effective and emaciated Erwin Leder from Das Boot) as he scours the Viennese streets searching for victims, and even reverse-strapped to Leder himself, so that we see the psycho killer coming at us from mere inches away, way too up close and impersonal. And it’s got a pulsating electronic score by krautrock wunderkind Klaus Schulze which adds immensely to the creep factor. Noé is clearly enamored of Kargl’s film, one which he claims to have seen upwards of 50 times, and its influence on his own forays into controversial cinema is without question. For example, the Cult Epics release of Angst features an optically-restored tunnel murder scene that clearly lays the groundwork for Noé’s similarly sickening underpass sequence in Irréversible (2002). Noé picked his inspiration well: Angst provides an unusual perspective on the machinations of a disturbed individual by the strength of its techniques—camera, score, internal narration—and it remains a fascinating experience despite the sordid subject matter.
(c) 2018 David N. Butterworth