Aaron K. Bolyard
Dorkgasm Staff Writer
I began watching Albert Fish at roughly about 4 am. I gave thought to following in the footsteps of Hunter S. Thompson and drugging myself heavily (I've got plenty of vicodin left from my surgery), but decided it was better watched with a bit more clarity than my pain killers would allow me.
I was instantly pleased when I heard the voice of the narrator, Tony Jay. Many dorks, including myself, would know him better as the voice of Chairface Chippendale from The Tick or The Necromancer/Elder God from the Blood Omen/Soul Reaver games. Unfortunately for all of us, he passed in 2006 and he will be missed. There are not many actors out there who have such a haunting and powerful a voice as Tony Jay and as a narrator he definitely adds to the enjoyment of watching Albert Fish.
I was aware of Albert Fish as a serial killer before watching this film, though I was not privy to the specifics of his crimes. My knowledge of Albert Fish came from the realm of fiction in the form of Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub. The killer in that book is essentially a copycat of Albert Fish, and so, in a roundabout way, I was prepared for what was going to unfold. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing that really sticks out in my mind, besides Tony Jay's voice, is the images of roasted meat and stews being cooked. Not especially disturbing some might say, but when you add the reading of Albert Fish's memoirs over the top of it. . . Well, needless to say the roast quickly becomes "the plump ass of a child". According to Albert Fish, it's the sweetest meat. Unfortunately, my bear traps failed to catch any little ghost and ghouls this Halloween, so I'll have to take Mr. Fish's word for it. . . Well, at least until my fiancé finishes my Santa Claus outfit. Ho ho ho children! Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
Anywho, the next thing I particularly enjoyed was the re-enactments. They varied from Albert Fish's sadomasochistic sexual escapades, to his murders, and even some of the Biblical visions he had. I don't think I'll ever be able to purge the image of a 2x4 with bloody nails sticking out of it from my brain. I also might have possibly given my fiancé some nightmares describing it to her. One can only hope. Of the re-enactments I found the Biblical ones quite compelling. Albert Fish was a man obsessed with suffering, and there are very few things more Catholic than suffering. Just ask Mother Theresa, she had a serious hard-on for suffering. I wonder if she ate any Indian children. . . I wouldn't be surprised. Albert Fish, though, truly believed he was doing God's work by killing and eating children, saving them from sin in a way. That, I think, is the great tragedy. A man lives his life according to these Biblical standards and he is painted a monster. Yet, those who choose to ignore religion as a farce are treated almost with the same disgust.
Though Albert Fish is quite obviously a documentary, it is constructed in such a way that does not allow you the objectivity something on PBS or the History Channel would. John Borowski cleverly forces you to take Fish's journey, not as a passive observer, but as an accomplice; a silent partner if you will. At the end of your journey with the Gray Man, you won't condone his actions, but you will understand him. You may even pity him.
Personally, after watching this movie from beginning to finish, I think Albert Fish was doomed to become the child cannibal. I doubt he had much choice in the man he was to become. That, I think, is the most important part of this docu-horror-drama. It does not paint the picture of a monster, but of a man shaped by his society and his religion. I think the most telling line of this film is "Society gets the serial killers it deserves", and with Albert Fish it is definitely the case. His society most certainly deserved him.
I definitely recommend Albert Fish to all you readers out there, even if True Crime isn't your thing. John Borowski strikes a delicate balance between documentary and feature film, and quite successfully I might add.
Until next time kiddies, Good Eatings.
Albert Fish Official Website
John Borowski's Homepage