The poverty-stricken princes of Prince in Hell – although ‘legally’ unemployed and one-step away from being homeless homos – have relatively memorable lives as their daily activities include such soundly sordid pastimes as random threesomes with militant leather-fags (including simultaneous gloryhole blowjobs and bootboy buggery, hanging flyers for heroin dealers, humping dirty old men for heroin, getting beaten by East German neo-nazi skinheads, practicing public nudity and sodomy in plain view of grade school children, and discussing the instinctive racism of all Germans, not to untermensch Eastern ones. If I were to hazard a guess judging by their mere appearance and metaphysical melancholy, I would assume that the refined gentlemen of Prince in Hell were the grandbastards of terrorized Teutonic women who had been raped and ravaged by Soviet Slavs, Mongols, and pseudo-Semites during and after the Battle of Berlin at the conclusion of the Second World War. The film mainly follows Stefan (Stefan Laarmann, who also co-wrote the script) who is a lapsed member of the bourgeois and sort of moral ‘mom’ of the group as he gets quite hung-strung when seeing his homo homeboys shoot heroin, East German junkie punk Jockel (played by writer/director Michael Stock) who is undoubtedly the most decadent and self-destructive of the degenerates, and bisexual father Micha (Andreas Stadler); the man that the two other fellows are fighting over. Despite being a father with a child that is not older than 8 or 9, Micha mostly spends the majority of his time manhandling other men, thereupon leaving his juvenile son Sascha (Nils Leevke-Schmidt) to fall prey to the seemingly unsavory antics of a former mental institution patient and puppet-mastering jester named ‘Firlefanz’ (Wolfram Haack who also acted as a co-writer for the film) with seemingly mischievous (the film hints that he is a molester and he spends most of his time with Sascha, eventually leading to his earthly demise) yet infantile intentions. The more heroin-inclined boys also seek drugs from a boorish and blunt middle-aged homosexual neo-nazi drug dealer named Ingolf (played by Fassbinder graduate Harry Baer) who incessantly replays Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (1934) on his television to the utter dismay of his young butt buddies. Needless to say, Prince in Hell is like a lurid Lifetime movie from homo Hades as directed by Ulrike Ottinger had she born a man-loving mensch as opposed to a Sapphic surrealist.
Infinitely more unsettling and realistic than the gay serial killer flick Frisk (1955) directed by Todd Verow – the film that mainstream gays love to hate, which incidentally stars director Michael Stock as a feeble-brained German prostitute – Prince in Hell is undeniably one of the most doleful yet abnormally charming and aesthetically and thematically grating queer flicks that I have ever seen, so it was not a surprise to learn that the film’s auteur has a disquieting past that is not that out of line with some of the characters in his film. Although Prince in Hell director Michael Stock would not direct another film until his contribution of the segment "Sternenstaub verloren ..." to the cross-gay film anthology Fucking Different (2005), he recently released the startlingly personal documentary Postcard to Daddy (2005); a highly and some-would-say embarrassingly intimate work where the filmmaker confronts and seeks to forgive his father some 25-years-later for sexually abusing him as a child. Naturally, knowing this terrible tidbit from Stock’s personal life makes Prince in Hell all the more of a patently perturbing piece of emotional celluloid carnage of the soul-consuming sort. Although any reviewers of the film have stated to the contrary, Prince in Hell also does a splendid job of portraying the urban street squalor and youthful nihilism of early 1990s post-reunification Berlin in a manner that is in sheer antithesis to the popular mainstream German flick Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) directed by Wolfgang Becker. As someone who has read East German ex-neo-nazi Ingo Hasselbach’s book Führer Ex: Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi (which was adapted into the 2002 film Führer Ex directed by Winfried Bonengel), Prince in Hell certainly seems to accurately portray the anarchic essence of the street gangs (punks, communists, anarchists, neo-nazis, etc.) that battled for the inglorious idiotic glory of being the kings of Berlin’s post-industrial wastelands with the gentlemen of Stock’s scrupulous film being the lowest men on the Teuton warrior totem pole. Ironically, one of the characters in Prince in Hell justifies his heroin abuse to his friend by remarking that the depiction of opium-obsession gone awry in the German cult flick Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (1981) directed by Uli Edel is romantic and ridiculous fiction, which is an absolute absurdity when one considers that at least the junkies in the older film had enough sense not to inject strychnine in their veins and allow a fag queen jester whose exposed dong is constantly hanging out watch their small children. Indeed, Prince in Hell is like Christiane F. for the 1990s post-Stasi era, albeit more disheartening, debasing and antagonistically nihilistic. That being said, it is only natural that the film concludes with little bad boy Sascha committing an act that is more gruesome and disconcerting than anything ever done by his father, as he is the future of the slums of the Fatherland; where fathers suck cock and shoot dope and puppeteers parade around their penises and put on puppet-shows about sodomy for preteens.