The Inheritors (Walter Bannert / Austria, 1983):
(Die Erben)

Fascinating fascism turns out to be extra fascinating to self-pitying adolescents, joblessness and boredom and a crummy family life make for a void that’s quickly filled. The scrawny, 15-year-old shutterbug (Nikolas Vogel) has a cawing gargoyle of a mother, a henpecked businessman father, and a cello-playing brother last seen dangling from a noose in the attic. Withdrawn and directionless, he and his working-class bud (Roger Schauer) are catnip for Neo-Nazi harvesters looking to rewrite the horrors of Germany’s "war generation" and revive the tenets of Mein Kampf. Pastimes include whooping at footage of swastikas, gawking at Luger pistols, deflowering groupies, bombing statues, and beating up grannies. The Holocaust is denied in public, then proudly bragged about behind closed doors: "I bet it was a woman, it’s so smooth," smirks an old-timer about the Jewish skin stretched over his living-room lamp. At the covert training camp, mock-executions feature bare-assed kids with Stars of David painted on their backs; elsewhere, the parliamentary candidate (Wolfgang Gasser) insists that nostalgia for a purified Fatherland is about old-fashioned values ("First of all, I am a simple family man..."). A bluntly assembled, prurient sensationalization of Santayana’s dictum, bizarrely unaware of how allured it is by the qualities it professes to condemn. A chunk of art-house exploitation, just marking time until Professor Haneke comes along. "At least I have an opinion," pouts the teenage brown-shirt in the classroom, which of course goes into a joke in The Big Lewboski. Directed by Walter Bannert. With Anneliese Stoeckl-Eberhard, Jaromir Borek, Klaus Novak, and Frank Dietrich.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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