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However, this review is not for the horrible man that was Albert Fish, but for the documentary, 'Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation.' Before viewing, one should realize what this documentary is about. I do not believe this film's main goal was to be informative. Much of the film was about the 'shock' of the events of Albert Fish's life and crimes. Information was regularly repeated, but in just more dramatic ways. The film itself was compiled well, however. The dramatizations are well done, the structure of the film flows well, and the narration is fantastic.
If you're unfamiliar with the life of Albert Fish and looking for basic information with flair, this documentary is for you. However, if you already have done your research on the monster that is Albert Fish, watch this film for nothing more than seeing what you already know exhibited in new ways.
Final Verdict: 7/10.
I loved the scenes where it just told the story of Albert Fish with a narrator. However, there were quite a few interviews with a bunch nobodies that no one cares about and those really annoyed me. I just want to hear the story, not a bunch of idiots babbling about how they know soooo much about Albert Fish. Other than that, it was very creepy the whole way through and completely chilling. Check it out.
It has no proper flow, no credible basis for telling a story that is already written for them, and just generally insulted my intelligence. On several occasions while watching this I asked myself... do they think I'm some moron who's drooling on themselves? This could be used as an example of the worst way to document something on film.
The maker of this, and anyone who likes this style of documentary, must live on a different planet than me, and may be even be a different species of human.
ALBERT FISH chronicles the life and crimes of the sexually-deviant serial-killer of the same name. We are given some background on his upbringing and some by-the-book details of some of the crimes that Fish admitted to when he was finally caught and imprisoned.
This documentary is relatively interesting and the facts are handled well - I just found that the information that was provided was much the same as any information that could be gleaned by reading any material about Fish. I didn't really learn anything new or find this particular docu to be very enlightening or provide any new insights to the man or his actions. Worth a look to docu-enthusiasts, or to anyone who may be interested in Albert Fish but doesn't know any details about him. Those that are already familiar with Fish and his actions will probably not gain a whole lot from this one...6.5/10
It was a good introduction into a serial murderer I'd never heard of. It was also a disgusting overly dramatized exercise in attempting to concentrate more on the gross out factor than reporting the facts. Not content to describe once how good certain parts of a child's body were when roasted and eaten, it describes the heinous deeds in fact and again in a first person voice-over narrated by an actor playing Albert Fish.
For shock affect it delved into ramming the details of his crimes down the throat of the viewer, again and again. At the expense of his victims and their families the film wallows in filth and was offensive in the extreme because of it. Either we're too stupid to digest the horror of his acts, or sales were forefront and above any other consideration the film makers claim.
It's not a documentary. A documentary informs us of real events without trying to sicken people with fictitious scenes added catering to the director's opinion of what took place. That's fiction. It's not a movie, in a movie you can accept that 'based on' gives the director license to add whatever he thinks will sell. It is a sick perverted film on a sick perverted killer but that not being enough, it approaches the same type of sick twisted deeds on film, that Fish did in person. In this, the film makers succeed in showing their perverted intention on wringing out every last drop of human suffering in their own race for sales.
Joe Coleman, obviously delighted to lay claim to notoriety by surrounding himself with the artifacts of the infamous and psychotic members of our society, sits smugly as he tells us he's thrilled to have the original letter sent to one victim's family, describing what Fish did to their child. How he was 'meant' to have it. Most serial murderers take trophies and this particular derelict of humanity, Coleman, does the same here, living with the material surrounding the worst part of themselves humanity has to offer. If any proof was needed for what I'm saying here, it's in the repeated interviews with this piece of crap. His sole participation in this film should have been only in examining this letter. Instead we're treated to repeated interview segments with no other reason than to try and help sell this presentation of crap.
These flaws ruin what could have been a remarkable recounting of Fish's deeds. The makers of this prostituted themselves for sales and in doing so, reflect a watered down mirror of the same sort of sickness Fish succumbed to. It's a perverted reporting of a perverted person and because of this they have more in common with this man than they may want to realize.
While Fish is well-known among serial killer fanatics, I do not know if he is well-known to the general public. He should be, or at least he certainly should deserve the honor. For all the films that have been made based loosely on Ed Gein, it surprises me that Fish seems to influenced practically no one in the artistic world (beyond Joe Coleman).
The biggest complaint about this film from other reviewers is that it is slow and boring. I will grant that it is a little bit slow, but you are dealing with a subject that has limited photos and even fewer videos. To compile this, the director had to stretch things a bit. Maybe it would have been better as 60 minutes, but I am still impressed by the images they were able to find (some I had seen before, some I had not).
I also liked that Fredric Wertham plays a role in here. I was not aware he testified for the defense of Fish, as Wertham is better known (at least to me) for his crusade against comic books and television violence. There is some irony there, I suppose, that a man who defends the insane ends up battling comic books for their erosion of morals.
Though he manages to vividly portray Fish as driven by an excessive religious belief, Bukowski's film is not free from lame dramaturgical tricks: Red paint symbolizing blood, awkward musical arrangements to highlight dramatic climaxes, and so on...
But Fish is a thankful subject. His story is so bizarre and stunning that you get completely sucked into the tale. Credible proof is delivered that he was not insane but simply sexually deranged, and driven by a perverted form of Catholicism - His cannibalism is compared to the holy communion ("eat my flesh, drink my blood and I shall become a part of you") All in all, a compelling documentary with some weak moments.
Many things bothered me, but the fact that the narrator was repeating the same informations 3 times through out the "docu" completely annoyed me.
It was very annoying how much effort the creators put into making it a shockumentary. But it was o-so- lame. Over dramatic narrator pointing out words like "pain" and "virgin" and "fish" and the dramatization focused on very handsome naked teens instead of the brutality and the character and the causes of Albert Fish. It only gave us a spoonful about Fish and repeated the same informations again and again and again and then "naked teens" and "virgin" and only had 2 interviewers!!
The worst one was this psycho horror artifacts creator who was mainly talking about himself and his origins and a few words about Fish as if he had something important to add to Fish's story. And the other one was a woman obsessed with Fish and his sexual life. At a point they had access to Fish's psychiatrist records and they didn't use real Fish's voice at all, and his sayings for not more than 5 minutes! Why??
In a few words don't waste your time with it, it's just super lame.
** (out of 4)
Extremely disappointing documentary from John Borowski who had previously made H.H. HOLMES: AMERICA'S FIRST SERIAL KILLER. This one here takes a look at Albert Fish, a now notorious killer who not only brutally murdered people but he also ate them.
This is part documentary, part re-enacted drama but neither one really works and they certainly don't work together. I was really disappointed with this film because of its extremely slow-pacing, which just kept it from having a very good flow. What really hurt the film is the fact that the narration is way too dramatic for its own good and there's just not too much life to the picture.
There are some some very good moments scattered throughout including a confession that is read, which just shows how crazy and downright creepy this guy was. The film like to go for some shock value as there are well detailed accounts of the cannibalism and the violence towards children.
If you've already done that, then this film isn't really going to tell you anything new. "Albert Fish", the film, offers a confusingly paced story told through cheaply produced reenactments, with input from subjects without any real qualifications to be exploring the mind of a serial killer, sexual predator, and psychopath.
The film opens with the story of the Grace Budd murder, including a voice-over (portraying Fish) reading the infamous letter. During which we hear melodramatic sound effects including a second voice-over (portraying Budd) squealing "I'll tell Momma!" with a tone so campy I literally started laughing out loud. It's then explained how Westchester Police used the letter to finally arrest Fish. So right off the bat the most horrific and compelling chapter of Fish's disturbing life is laid out to us, removing all drama it could've held later.
But that's OK. This film isn't interested in drama. It's interested in exploring Fish's religious psychosis without any real narrative to follow. And it insists on laying out the depth of Fish's psychosis not through psychoanalyses, but through lots of projection from its interviewees and even more cheaply made dramatizations portraying what the film insists are the visions Fish had. Fish may very well have had some extreme religious psychosis, but the film makes little effort to produce the evidence of this.
It also provides little background of Fish himself. Mentioned sporadically throughout the film are anecdotes about his childhood and adult life, but rarely is this explained in any detail or with any connection to a narrative. The film notes his married life, fatherhood, and abandonment by his wife with little interest in the psychological impact any of these aspects had.
Many reviews have claimed Joe Coleman's inclusion in the film was superfluous, but I disagree. Coleman was the perfect allegory for what the film was trying to accomplish: heavy projection in lieu of evidence or thoughtful examination. Coleman's credentials hardly make him an authority on the subject of serial killers. Such as they are, his greatest attributes seem to be having a creepy collection of souvenirs and apparently stealing the Grace Budd letter from the police. Unable to speak authoritatively on Fish, he instead openly uses his own religious background to speculate greatly on the motives for Fish's crimes. Eventually he claims that he (Coleman) personally was meant to own the letter.
If you are hoping to learn anything new about Albert Fish, head to the library, because you won't find it here. It you'd like to literally watch paint dry (there's a reenactment in the film which gives us this opportunity) feel free to watch this film.
It would be easy to disqualify this (and it should be, for the greater part) as an over the top piece of amateur art that does not distantiate itself enough from the dark matter it claims to shed light on. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a good hobby project that is labored with love^ - and this seems to be just that - but the fiction and non-fiction are just not in sync here. The re-enactments are mostly of poor imagination, a lot of it is repetitive, the voice-overs are stereotypical and the music is pompous and unimaginative. The only pluses that I can find are the use of clips from old New York, actual pictures of Fish and newspaper clippings and Fish' accounts of his life and that of several sources around him from that time. And a few re-enactments were actually okay.
Beyond those ingredients, especially the presence of painter Joe Coleman jumps out; his adoration for Fish borderlines the unsound, even though he at times wants to emphasize otherwise. Or maybe he is better with paint than with words? In any case, I felt he had no place here, other than that he may have offered the original 'Albert Fish letter' for display. The only other interviewee, Katherine Ramsland, is an author and professor who is apparently most famous for her book 'The science of vampires'. I haven't read it, nor do I know anything about her other work, but why would someone of status would get involved in something like this? It makes me wonder.
I agree that the story of Albert Fish and his victims is one that should be told, but this is not the way (let alone the fact that a few details about the Grace Budd killing were inaccurate). Or at the very least, not for me. Still 4 out of 10, because there was still plenty of info and footage to be appreciated.
^ The call of Cthulhu (2005) or Wisconsin death trip (1999) for instance.