It`s inevitable. Every time I watch COLD CASE, Court TV or a documentary like ALBERT FISH, I`m always asked the question (usually by my wife) - "Why on Earth do you watch stuff like this?" Then I catch her watching GREY`S ANATOMY and ask her the same thing. (I think her show actually makes the viewer dumber, but that has yet to be proven.) But my response is always “because these people fascinate me.” I mean - what actually causes a human being to do such insane things, to become a monster of society? Well, John Borowski’s film answers some of these questions.
ALBERT FISH was a complete whack-job who lived during the early 20th century, and was responsible for slaying a number of young children. Not only ending their life, but fucking and eating them, too, which just goes to show what people will do when there’s no XBOX-360 around. We also delve into Fish’s vile childhood existence; his failed marriages, the odd jobs he worked from time to time, the beginning stages of his fascination with sadomasochism, his demented sex life and how he eventually was caught. It`s all here, kiddies! Now all you need is some popcorn!
One of my favorite scenes in this documentary is when ‘Odditorium’ owner Joe Coleman shows off the letter Albert Fish wrote to Mrs. Budd, the mother of one of his victims. He has the thing hanging on his wall, framed like it was the original Mona Lisa - and to him, it is. That fascinates me. It’s interesting to see a person take such pride in such an odd object. But to his credit, he’s well spoken and comes across as a genuine and relatively normal guy who knows his interest is a little quirky.
The following an excerpt from the letter. I just had to put it in:
“My Dear Mrs. Budd, I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run downstairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma. First I stripped her naked. How she did kick, bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her (though) I could (of) had I wished. She died a virgin.”
The documentary itself is pretty solid. The running time is just under ninety minutes, but because it’s so damn comprehensive it feels like more, which is a good thing. I was honestly surprised how much ground there was to cover with this lunatic. I`ve always assumed that Fish was a one-time deal. I thought he was some old man who lost his shit, grabbed the first girl he came across, cooked her up with some veggies and ate her. Not true. The guy had a pretty respectable career. Well, depending on how you look at it.
On the negative side, ALBERT FISH feels unorganized. We spend a lot of time jumping back and forth between Fish`s adult-life, his childhood, before he was caught, after he was caught. I would’ve much rather started with a five-minute recap of his crimes and then gone back to the beginning. The continuity would have seemed smoother taking this approach. Then, you have the voice-overs that run through most of the film. We spend probably eighty-percent of the film listening to various people talk over a lot of still images. This proves to be a tad boring. But the subject matter took place eons ago, so what the fuck were the filmmakers supposed to do? These are only minor quibbles, but they do affect the film’s quality.
Overall, ALBERT FISH sets out to give the viewer a complete look into the life of this "legendary" maniac, and I feel it does exactly that. It`s thorough, serious and insanely creepy. If you`re into these types of documentaries, then you should check this one out, especially because there’s not much out there about Mr. Fish. Just that fucking name gives me the creeps.
This is an independent film so we need to support these.
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