Fritz Haarmann, con-man, black marketeer and police informer, got through the depression years in Germany in an enterprising way: he picked up runaway boys, seduced them, vampirised them, and then sold their remains as meat. His crimes inspired Fritz Lang's M, made six years after his execution. In Lommel's remarkable film, the character gets the Fassbinder treatment: he's the resourceful but ultimately helpless loser at the centre of a black social comedy of manners. Lommel and his writer/star Kurt Raab (both veterans of numerous Fassbinder movies) tell Haarmann's story through a patchwork of broadly comic vignettes - from nosy neighbours and complicit cops to lovers' tiffs and expert con-tricks - and finally draw their plot threads together in a pastiche of the Hollywood crime thriller. The comedy doesn't blunt the horror of Haarmann's murders, but it does enable Lommel to implicate the 'tender wolves' - the society that makes such crimes possible - without resorting to didacticism or moralising.