Albert Fish (2007): Film by John Borowski

I watched “Albert Fish,” a film by John Borowski about the American cannibal and serial killer (upon whom characters like Hannibal Lecter of “Silence of the Lambs” are supposedly based).

Albert Fish (1870-1936) was a traveling house painter who claimed to have killed and/or molested children in every US state after he was caught. He was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair for the murder of a young girl, Grace Budd, in 1928. The exact extent of his crimes are not known.

The film uses documentary film clips (many of which, based on my observation of the vehicles, are actually from the 1940s and 1950s rather than Fish’s era), photographs, interviews and re-enactments of portions of Fish’s crimes as well as dramatizations of visions that Fish claims to have (or might have had). Since Fish was into some pretty sick stuff (coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia and masochism), these clips are thankfully less than explicit, but the production value of the film is on the low end. Other than some scenes like closeups of a whip hitting a boy’s buttocks, some fake blood and the actor who portrayed Fish drinking blood and eating a piece of what looks like raw flesh from the arm of an actor portraying Jesus Christ (a dramatization of the theme of one of Fish’s religious fascinations that may have led to his cannibalism), the visual content of the film is not overly strong, but the storys told and the letters from Fish, in which he describes his crimes are pretty gruesome.

The film features some interviews with Katherine Ramsland who speaks at some length as to what she thinks might have motivated Albert Fish to commit these crimes. Ramsland is apparently a ‘true crime’ author and a writer of books and articles on the supernatural. I found it humorous that as she was interviewed, I could see a shelf of books over her shoulder upon which, prominently displayed, was “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Criminal Investigation.” Seeing that book did not make me find her arguements more persuasive.

One Comment on “Albert Fish (2007): Film by John Borowski”

  1. I had read many years back that a contributing factor to Fish's cannabalism was witnessing the atrocities committed by the Chinese during the Boxer Rebellion.

    As a bit of a world traveler in my younger days there were times when the cuisine was a bit questionable in the more out of the way places. But delicious nonetheless.

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