Mar 17, 2014
In ridiculous, ugly, and all-around aesthetically repulsive times, the world certainly needs consciously ridiculous, ugly, and all-around aesthetically repulsive films that remind the everyday lemming about the absurdity of the everyday degeneracy they take for granted as normal, and who could be better than a radically rotund Austrian queer like Peter Kern (Crazy Boys, Gossenkind aka Street Kid) to school the general public on their Hollywood-lobotomized stupidity? Best known to cinephiles as an effortlessly effete character actor who starred in a number of masterpieces by New German Cinema auteur filmmakers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Hans W. Geißendörfer, and Wim Wenders, and best known in his homeland as an eccentric public figure who is as obese as he is bizarrely goofy, Kern has also been a film director since 1980 who has directed a number of largely unknown films, including documentaries and queer melodramas, with campy comedies indubitably being his forte. With his self-described ‘Heimat film’ (which is really a digital video ‘neo-anti-Heimat’ film) Haider lebt - 1. April 2021 (2002), Kern unfortunately demonstrated that although he is a typical leftist Jörg Haider/Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) hater, he also proved that he could make leftist humor strangely charming and even labyrinthine in its loony absurdity. With his sardonically satirical piece of quasi-scatological meta-cinema Mörderschwestern (2011) aka Murder Sisters aka Murder Nurses starring a very old and tired Austrian queen Helmut Berger (The Damned, Ludwig) in the against-type role of a passive doctor who becomes the victim of naughty nurses, Kern has cleverly crafted an anti-agitprop agitprop piece that keenly reflects his cultivated hatred for both the mainstream media/cinema and the film-going public in general. Partly inspired by the horrific Lainz Angels of Death murders—a series of bizarre murders committed by four nurse's aides (who were all released from prison after just 25 years!) at Lainz General Hospital in Vienna that took place between 1983 and 1989 where at least 49 (but upwards of 200) patients were killed via morphine doses and having watered forced in their lungs—Mörderschwestern is a calculatingly cruel and cynical comedy featuring anti-Heimat, hagsploitation, and Grand Guignol elements that gleefully tortures the viewer for about 70 minutes or so. A film that takes ‘breaking the fourth wall’ to ungodly extremes wherein a pernicious professor and a hysterically deranged homicidal nurse anti-heroine demand that the viewer ostensibly choose which character will die and how, Mörderschwestern follows in the Austrian audience-alienating/anti-Hollywood tradition of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997), although Kern’s work is not plagued by pedantic (pseudo)intellectualism but instead opts for cinematically pissing and vomiting on the viewer with slapstick scat and intentional aesthetic dissonance and asininities.
Beginning with a scrawny troll-like Professor (Marc Bischoff of Good Bye Lenin! and Taxidermia) giving a rather bizarre lecture in the strikingly scenic Austrian countryside and declaring, “Around these druid rocks, many myths and legends exist about savage men. Many generations before us they used to convene next to the druid rocks. Today we have convened in a cinema to explore the secret rituals of the ancient Celts and the magical powers of the druid rock,” Mörderschwestern quite rudely announces that it's not a conventional film from the get go, but instead an innately iconoclastic work that pisses on Austria, the filmgoer, and the mainstream media. Indeed, the Prof soon magically appears in a lecture hall and announces to the viewer, “We are going to tear down the boundaries of the silver screen in order to influence the events going on behind the scenes.” After the Professor quasi-molests a beauteous blond college student with an IQ of 75, Mörderschwestern anti-heroine Tabea (Susanne Wuest of the TV miniseries Carlos the Jackal)—the former ‘Angel of Death’ of Lainz hospital who has spent just 15 years in prison being raped by bull-dykes for her part in murdering numerous patients while working as a nurse—makes her rude introduction while working at an outdoor restaurant that specializes in roast pork knuckles at Prater amusement park in Vienna. Tabea injects the roast knuckles with poison and leaves it up to the viewer to decide which member of a dysfunctional Austrian family will die. Ultimately, ‘the abused girl’ (a teen that looks kind of like Anne Frank whose uncle slaps her around) is poisoned and Tabea follows her to Lainz hospital by intentionally dousing herself with boiling grease. Tabea accuses the viewer of being “weak-minded do-gooders” for allowing the ‘Abused Girl’ to survive the poisoning and then starts an argument with an audience member named ‘Josef’ (indeed, the film has a long running joke where a fictional film audience, which incessantly pops up in the right corner of the screen, interacts with Tabea), who she accuses of having a “tiny wiener.” Tabea also reveals—while absurdly wheeling around the Abused Girl in a mobile hospital bed—that regarding the fictional filmgoers, 88% of them have cheated on their lovers, three are HIV-positive, 60% are heterosexual, and an outstanding 100% are deceivers. Indeed, Tabea seems to have a low opinion of the general public and especially the viewer (aka you!).
From there, real newsreels from the Lainz Angels of Death murders are shown (including footage of an elderly man having his ass wiped by a nurse Seidl-style!) and it is revealed that four nurses where indicted on 49 murders, with a certain Waltraud Wagner (aka Tabea) being responsible for a whopping 35 of them. Of course, Tabea proclaims her innocence, declaring she and her friends were “the vanguards of a new health care system…Dispose, make room, cut costs.” Not surprisingly, it is alluded that the Angels of Death were following in the footsteps of the National Socialists by eradicating “life unworthy of life.” Tabea confesses, “15 years in prison have made me really keen. They gave me a new identity, but no new soul,” as she has only become all the more deranged over the past 1.5 decade. Indeed, Tabea became the ‘prison bunny’ (aka lesbian sex slave) of an elderly women while imprisoned, so now she is all the more an active enemy against society, hence her need to go back to her former place of employment and once again help eradicate unworthy life. Meanwhile, a certain Dr. Schleyer (Helmut Berger) is being drugged by a certain deranged nurse named Schwester Klara (Kathrin Beck) and Tabea proceeds to follow her every malicious move. Of course, Dr. Schleyer ‘meets his maker’ and some other eccentric characters face the wrath of the nasty nurses. Meanwhile, fictional audience member Josef figuratively jumps through the smashed fourth wall and attempts to stop the mayhem by pathetically pleading, “Hello and good afternoon, I am just a simple observer and don’t want to disturb you any further. But if you play on, you will die. I know that, because I’m a member of your audience and I voted for your death…Stop it! Stop it right now, or you’re all going to die!”, as the Abused Girl is encouraged to seek revenge against her abusive uncle by nurse Klara. In the end, it is revealed that the fictional audience has voted that Tabea die, but before she is forced to commit suicide via seppuku, she vehemently shouts out these words of wisdom to the viewer, “Don’t you watch every piece of crap at the movies or on YouTube? You are always going to see what I prepare for you. It wasn’t you who took the decisions, it was only me. And rest assured, even if you escape today and manage to exit the auditorium unharmed, at home the TV will be waiting. And there they will show up, the powerful elites and tell you what to do. And – stupid as you are – you will choose the channel with the most crime on it.”
Undoubtedly, Mörderschwestern is a film so morally repugnant, pathologically nonsensical, and proudly preposterous that it hardly can be described as a ‘film’ at all, but one must respect a work that is described by one of its characters as the, “worst movie of all time.” Mixing Celtic mysticism with true crime, coldblooded murder with juvenile slapstick humor, Heimat with hagsploitation, Austrian flags with roast knuckle, a pathetically passive post-twink Helmut Berger with sadomasochistic she-bitch nurses, and quasi-Brechtian audience-alienating pretense with totally trashy Troma-esque scat humor, Mörderschwestern is nothing short of an artistically reprehensible work that demonstrates that underneath auteur Peter Kern’s fluffy blubber-like exterior lies a seasoned sadist who gets a kick out of torturing filmgoers, but not before heckling them for mindlessly watching sick videos on YouTube like that of a man behind mauled by a lion, which apparently received less than 6 millions (quite the number!) views as the film reveals. Directed by a man who once confessed his affinity for teenage boys in the Rosa von Praunheim documentary Rent Boys (2011) aka Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo and more than demonstrated such sentiments with his pro-pedarast flick Gossenkind (1992) aka Street Kid, Mörderschwestern is ultimately a postmodern ‘moralist’ movie sermon from the proudly immoral and discernibly decadent (no man Kern’s size who becomes so morbidly obese can blame his problem on a mere thyroid problem), which is only apt in a culturally apocalyptic age where untermenschen human trash like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are treated by the media as an international royal family. If nothing else, one must tip their hat to Kern for directing a film that defies all cinematic conventions and traditional (and not-so-traditional) forms of good taste, as Mörderschwestern is indubitably a third-rate anti-arthouse film directed by a third rate actor-turned-auteur, yet I cannot remember the last recent comedy that I watched more than once.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:12 PM
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