Friday, 27 September 2013



I first saw this mesmerising teen sex/sleaze shocker back in 1994, at an event called the Schlactfest, a one-day festival of German trash, horror and refreshingly gross mayhem. While most of the bill centred around extreme gore, ultraviolence and sundry sexual atrocities (and at least one of the films was shown without subtitles, making its alleged political satire even harder to digest), two films stayed long in the mind: Angst, a hypnotic serial killer drama, and this terrifically bleak, morally iffy and frankly legally questionable teen horror. Watching it again on DVD, it's still a chilling and absorbing film, very well made and boasting an agreeably twisted conclusion.

Der Fan (The Fan) is Simone, an ordinary 17-year-old schoolgirl utterly obsessed with a monotonous electropop star known as R. She has posters on her bedroom wall, listens exclusively to his dreary albums, and writes gushing love letters to her icon, but then gets more depressed when he never responds to them. (Why would he? He gets thousands of such letters; what would make hers any different, assuming he ever read any of them in the first place?) When she learns he's due to appear on a TV show, she runs away and hitches to Munich to see him face to face. Impossibly, he picks her to accompany him to his TV recording, and later to a friend's apartment nobody else knows about. But Simone can't understand that her love means nothing to R, while R can't understand that his love means everything to Simone, and afterwards, when he rejects her....

So far, so TV drama. But then the film kicks up a gear with Simone's revenge and literal destruction of R - it had been fairly staid and leisurely up until that point - and what was playing like a romantic teen sex drama suddenly turns to violence, blank-eyed horror and death. It's actually quite a sobering and surprising climax which still maintains the quiet tone of the film: it's not a crowd-pleaser by any stretch and there's not a huge amount of graphic gore.

Having said all that, there is one major problem. The BBFC have made a compulsory cut of fifteen seconds to the sex scene on the grounds that it contravenes the Protection Of Children Act of 1978. But they've left intact all the other extensive scenes of Desiree Nosbusch naked, despite the fact that she cannot have been more than seventeen years old at the time the film was released (assuming her IMDb and Wikipedia pages have her date of birth correct: they do tally with Terry Wogan introducing her as nineteen when she presented the Eurovision Song Contest from Luxembourg in 1984). I'm really not sure why that fifteen seconds of footage counts essentially as an indecent image of a child while all the other nudity somehow doesn't. The law and the BBFC's guidelines are surely very clear on this matter, but they have passed it with that one token cut that you probably won't notice anyway.

Otherwise, it's a terrific little movie that would actually make a good double bill with Christiane F. It's odd that the DVD offers audio in both an English dub and the original German, but doesn't include English subtitles for the latter. Still, the dub is fine: the film's strengths aren't in the dialogue, and it's perhaps best that R's droning pop songs are left untranslated anyway. I like Der Fan a great deal, it's well made and performed, and R's fate is both mercilessly cold and entirely deserved. Young nudity apart, it's well worth seeing.



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