Kelg
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Kelg
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September 11th, 2018, 1:06 am #461

I watched this a while ago.
I liked it despite its bizarre qualities or maybe because of them.
Odd but compelling film--I thought there was some Vertigo-inspiration to it because the soundtrack occasionally goes into a Bernard Hermann style a little bit and something about the story felt kind of Hitchcockian at times.

Barry Sullivan is an engineer and the waters of a dam feature as a backdrop (along with fire). It gets a bit choppy as if there was some things edited out. Most bizarrely, when Martha Hyer is showing Barry Sullivan the picture of her daughter, she says (I am pretty sure she says) "take a good look. Her father was my father."

There's a dramatic spike in the soundtrack but they never bring it up again. Later though, her daughter shows an interest in starting fires.

I will watch it again sometime.
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Rick
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September 11th, 2018, 1:26 am #462

I caught this in May of '64 on its American release with its regular double-feature partner, COMEDY OF TERRORS. It was a big day for me -- the first time I ventured over the beautiful Ohio River to the big city of Louisville all by my lonesome. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by both ends of the double header, COMEDY because it wasn't as funny as it should have been, and this one because something named PYRO, THE THING WITHOUT A FACE should really be a monster movie and not a ... whatever this is.

But...to be fair...I was 14 years old at the time and I haven't seen it since. Another one to add to the re-watch list. One of these days.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
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Bob Meyer
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September 12th, 2018, 2:06 am #463

Kelg wrote: Most bizarrely, when Martha Hyer is showing Barry Sullivan the picture of her daughter, she says (I am pretty sure she says) "take a good look. Her father was my father."

There's a dramatic spike in the soundtrack but they never bring it up again. Later though, her daughter shows an interest in starting fires.
Rigby mentions that bit about the father in his book, but I missed it.  Wow - no wonder she was screwed up.  It is interesting that Sullivan buys her big house just when she's decided to burn it down for the insurance money but sells it to him instead, and yep - her daughter lights a fire in a field later on.
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Bob Meyer
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September 12th, 2018, 2:09 am #464

Rick wrote: Another one to add to the re-watch list. One of these days.
I can think of higher priority movies than this one.  Again, it's not terrible, but it's not good either.
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Bob Meyer
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September 14th, 2018, 12:14 am #465

1964 - EL SECRETO DEL DR. ORLOFF  (THE MISTRESSES OF DR. JEKYLL)  (DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER)

Dr Orloffs Monster.jpg
Spain-Austria-France.  Literal Title: “The Secret of Dr. Orloff”.  Released in France as LES MAÎTRESSES DU DOCTEUR JEKYLL and in the UK as DR. JEKYLL'S MISTRESSES.  Released in the U.S. as THE MISTRESSES OF DR. JEKYLL and DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER.

Directed by Jesús Franco (as “Jess Franck”).  Written by Franco (as “David Kühne”), Nicole Guettard (as “David Coll”), and A. Norévo.

The Story:  A dying Dr. Orloff passes on the secrets of his experiments to Dr. Jekyll, who uses the knowledge to resurrect his dead brother and use him as a tool for murdering young women.


Jesús Franco’s third horror film (once again co-financed by France’s infamous Eurocine company) and among the few horror movies from Spain during the early-and-mid 1960s.  The Spanish horror boom would really take off in 1968, and Franco’s movies were largely aimed for international release and not so much for conservative Spanish audiences.  This being a Franco film, we of course have an exotic dancer and flash of nudity but overall this is a much more tame movie than either AWFUL DR. ORLOF or SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS.

Despite its various titles, this isn’t really an Orloff movie or a Dr. Jekyll movie.  An elderly and dying Orloff (who’s gained an extra letter “f” in his name over the years) hands over his diabolical notes before the opening credits and then disappears from the movie (except for one confusing scene toward the end).  “Dr. Jekyll” is the name given to the villain by the distributor – it’s actually Dr. Fisherman, as can be seen from the name on a tombstone during a graveyard scene.  If anything, it’s really a “Return of Morpho” movie – if you’ve seen Franco’s AWFUL DR. ORLOF, you’re probably still haunted by the sight of the bug-eyed killer “Morpho” used by Orlof as his assistant in murder.

Argentinian actor Hugo Blanco, last seen as the black leather-clad mad killer in Franco’s SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS, essentially plays the same type of character as Morpho from THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF in this movie, although he’s named “Andros” and is actually Dr. Fisherman’s (or, outside of Spain, Dr. Jekyll’s) dead brother.  Years before, Jekyll caught Andros sleeping with his wife and killed him in a fit of rage.  And…this is where things get confusing and even incomprehensible: Jekyll uses Orloff’s scientific work to animate Andros (who’s still young-looking but has nasty, decrepit skin) and control his actions through some kind of ultra-sonic radio transmitter.  Furthermore, he sends Andros out to strangle the young women he’s dallied with – a dancer, a prostitute, etc.  Why?  Beats me.  I doubt any of these ladies would throw themselves under a train if he told them he was done with them, and killing them instead seems a little…harsh.  I guess he’s just crazy?

Dr Orloff - Pic 02.jpg
I wasn’t too impressed with Hugo Blanco’s acting in THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS, but he’s used effectively here, with his blank face and thousand-yard stare.  It’s amusing that an actor named Blanco always seems to be dressed in black, though.  Dr. Jekyll (aka Dr. Fisherman) is well-played by the Spanish actor Marcelo Arroita-Jáuregui despite the fact that we have no idea what his motives are.  Supposedly, there wasn’t enough money to hire Howard Vernon back after starring in Franco’s first two horrors, and Marcelo was a cheaper substitute (the rotund actor will end up playing second-fiddle to Vernon in Franco’s MISS MUERTE the following year).  Jekyll’s cheatin’ wife has turned into a middle-aged dipsomaniac, played by veteran Spanish actress Luisa Sala.

Walking into this maelstrom of murder and melodrama is our heroine, Melissa, played by Agnès Spaak. Melissa’s father is the undead Andros, but she’s unaware of how he died or that he’s back and stalking the village ladies - she's on a holiday from the university to visit her aunt and uncle Jekyll at the family’s ancestral castle.   I was quite taken with the lovely Miss Spaak in this movie and sorry to see that her film career was fairly short, although she was featured in a number of European westerns during the 1960s.  She comes from a prominent film family – her father was famed French screenwriter Charles Spaak (who co-wrote Jean Renoir’s GRAND ILLUSION as well as the 1962 chiller THE BURNING COURT) and her younger sister was actress Catherine Spaak (whose long list of credits include Dario Argento’s CAT O’ NINE TAILS).  
Dr Orloff - Pic 01.jpg
One of Jesús Franco’s co-writers on this film, A. Norévo, has only this single title credited on the IMDB, while the other, “David Coll”, is actually Franco’s wife at the time, Nicole Guettard.  She would serve in various capacities on many of her husband’s films but was displaced in his life by actress Lina Romay in the 1970s.  Franco’s direction is still fairly good here although marred by a strange preference for ultra-close-ups that often crop the top or side of the actors’ faces (and on a couple of occasions giving us a perfect but unwelcome view right up a character’s nostrils).  He certainly does a good job of making Blanco’s murderous cadaver look sinister and creepy.  And he has his brief Hitchcock-like cameo as a piano player in a seedy nightclub.  The movie is nothing great and makes no sense, but I enjoyed it all the same.

I’ve got the Kino Lorber-Redemption blu-ray that uses the title DR. ORLOFF’S MONSTER, although the print is the French version LES MAÎTRESSES DU DOCTEUR JEKYLL with English subtitles but also the option of an English-dubbed audio track.  It looks pretty good and features a commentary by Franco fanatic Tim Lucas.

You can find a more thorough review courtesy Cinesavant/DVD Savant Glenn Erickson (who’s no fan of Jess Franco).

https://trailersfromhell.com/dr-orloffs-monster/
Last edited by Bob Meyer on September 15th, 2018, 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Bob Meyer
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September 15th, 2018, 1:42 am #466

1964 - WARTEZIMMER ZUM JENSEITS  (MARK OF THE TORTOISE)

Mark of the Tortoise.jpg
West Germany.  Literal Title: “Waiting Room to the Afterlife”.  Released in the U.S. as MARK OF THE TORTOISE.

Directed by Alfred Vohrer.  Written by Eberhard Keindorff, Johanna Sibelius, and Will Tremper based on James Hadley Chase’s novel “Mission to Siena”.

The Story:  An international criminal organization led by the reclusive “Tortoise” sets up an extortion ring in London.  After refusing to pay up, an aristocrat is murdered and his nephew decides to bring the gang to justice.


A Rialto studio Krimi shot in “Ultrascope” with location work at the Castello di Miramare in Trieste, Italy.  Not based on an Edgar Wallace novel, but instead a novel by prominent British mystery and crime writer James Hadley Chase, who attained fame during and after the Second World War and was best known for his somewhat scandalous book “No Orchids for Miss Blandish”.  Confusingly, the German movie title translates to “Waiting Room for the Afterlife” credited as being drawn from Chase’s novel “Pay or Die” - but there’s no such title credited to Chase or his various pseudonyms.  Instead, it seems the film took its plot from Chase’s novel “Mission to Siena” and the U.S. release took its title from the nickname of the main villain - after all, MARK OF THE TORTOISE does sound a lot more like a traditional Krimi title.

Our hero this time out is a Londoner, but not with Scotland Yard.  He’s the heir to his (soon to be dead) uncle’s fortune and played by Götz George.  We encountered George before in HYPNOSIS (DUMMY OF DEATH) as the young boxer wrongly accused of murder, and he’s very good here, charismatic and at ease in front of the camera - he’d work regularly in European (mostly German) movies and television until his death in 2016.  Popular German actress Hildegard Knef (1952’s ALRAUNE) headlines the movie as the Tortoise’s main accomplice who (of course) finds her loyalties shifting to our young hero.  Knef was only 39 years old in 1964 but she looks ten years older than that here, and doesn’t put much effort into the role.  Richard Münch plays the criminal mastermind called The Tortoise.  Pinkas Braun, Carl Lange, and Klaus Kinski are on hand as bad guys.

Mark of the Tortoise - Pic 01.jpg
The movie is something of a change of pace for a Rialto Krimi in a number of ways.  The hero is a civilian who doesn’t depend on backup from Scotland Yard and much of the movie takes place in Trieste.  The film begins with a humorous voice-over narration introducing the situation, but the movie follows the criminals as much as, if not more than, the hero.  The Tortoise constantly wears sunglasses and is restricted to a wheelchair and reminds one of a Bond villain, especially considering his elaborate technology-filled castle fortress complete with closed-circuit TV cameras, marble and steel walls, automatic doors that make a “swoosh” sound, and a torture room that doubles as a trash & people compactor.  The whole thing is definitely more Dr. Mabuse or James Bond than Krimi.

There’s a good sense of humor to the movie too, evidenced in the first scene when George is told that his uncle has received a death threat delivered via a turtle with a skull-and-crossbones painted on its back.  His reply: “That sounds like a practical joke.”  And there are turtles slowly and randomly wandering around the hallways of the castle fortress, which made me laugh.  Banter throughout the movie is on a higher plane than usual.

While not a typical Krimi, it’s above average in the entertainment department, and Krimi veteran director Alfred Vohrer does a fine job keeping things interesting (although he apparently can’t stage a believable fight scene).  The budget is good, the writing is good, the cinematography is good, and the acting (apart from Knef) is good.  A fun night at the movies.

I saw this courtesy of Amazon streaming - a widescreen print in good shape licensed through Sinister Cinema.  Dubbed (quite well) into English.  The original German-language version (without subtitles) is streaming at DailyMotion:

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Dr Kelp
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September 15th, 2018, 2:00 am #467

This one sounds interesting, I do have the original German with subs and will try to move this one up in the queue.
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Bob Meyer
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September 15th, 2018, 11:51 pm #468

1964 - DIE TODESSTRAHLEN DES DR. MABUSE  (THE DEATH RAY OF DR. MABUSE)

Death Ray of Dr Mabuse.jpg
West Germany-France-Italy.  Literal Title: “The Death Rays of Dr. Mabuse”.  Released in France as LES RAYONS DE LA MORT DU DR. MABUSE, in Italy as I RAGGI MORTALI DEL DR. MABUSE, and in the U.S. as THE DEATH RAY OF DR. MABUSE and THE DEATH RAY MIRROR OF DR. MABUSE.  Also known as THE SECRET OF DR. MABUSE.

Directed by Hugo Fregonese.  Written by Ladislas Fodor and Alexander Welbat.

The Story:  The British Secret Service sends its top agent to Malta to ensure that an untested secret laser weapon doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.  But a criminal mastermind has already set his plans to steal the device into motion...could it be the work of the long-dead Dr. Mabuse?

 
This was the sixth and final film in the 1960s Dr. Mabuse series begun when Fritz Lang revived the character for THE 1000 EYES OF DR. MABUSE.  By this time, Dr. Mabuse (played in the first four films by Wolfgang Preiss) isn’t really even present except as an occasional voice and shadow behind a screen.  In the fifth movie, DR. MABUSE VS SCOTLAND YARD, Mabuse was a force of will reaching from beyond the grave to control the mind of a scientist in order to continue his reign of crime and terror - Preiss was credited in the cast list but only seen briefly in footage lifted from earlier in the series.  In DEATH RAY, Preiss doesn’t appear at all despite his name in the credits and on the movie poster.  This time around, we pick up where we left off in the last movie, with the poor mind-controlled scientist briefly murmuring, “It wasn’t me...it was Mabuse...Mabuse made me lie...” before being immediately spirited away (kidnapped? killed?) so that the movie can forget Mabuse for several reels and completely jump on the Eurospy bandwagon.  It’s a bit of a shame...the Mabuse films directly influenced (and preceded) the first James Bond movies but ended up trying to emulate them instead of building on the strengths of the Dr. Mabuse character and his ever-present, all-seeing network of criminals and spies.

Death Ray of Dr Mabuse - Pic 02.jpg
Peter van Eyck is back as a different character but essentially the same role as before, distracted from the Mabuse case by the need to travel to Malta.  Once there, he meets the local British Intelligence bureau and is introduced to a friendly but suspicious scientist who’s working on the Ultimate Weapon - a “Death Ray” using orbiting satellites that can conceivably wipe out entire cities with the push of a button.  The scientist doesn’t want to hand it over to The Crown, but he also doesn’t want criminals to get ahold of it, so he enlists van Eyck’s help to keep them at bay.  Of course, the island is already infested with crooks and spies - could Dr. Mabuse still be exerting his influence on the underworld?

Van Eyck is fine in what is essentially a James Bond Jr. role - he’s done much of this before.  This is the last we’ll see of him on our Euro Gothic Journey.  A Prussian, he had left Germany before the Nazis took power and moved to the U.S., becoming an American citizen and briefly working for both Irving Berlin and Orson Welles in New York City before being drafted into the Army.  After the war he became an actor, splitting his time between U.S. and European productions including Clouzot’s THE WAGES OF FEAR, Hammer Films’ THE SNORKEL, and of course the Mabuse series.  He died of blood poisoning in 1969 after appearing in THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN.

The beautiful Yvonne Furneaux (probably best known for LA DOLCE VITA, REPULSION, and Hammer’s­ THE MUMMY) is the female lead, the daughter of the “death ray” creator whose true allegiance isn’t certain.  Rika Dialina (last seen as the unfortunate young mother in the “Wurdulak” segment of Bava’s BLACK SABBATH) is appealing and funny as the bubble-headed “fiancée” van Eyck brings along as cover for his spy work.  Worth noting under the shameful “Hey, Don’t Blame Me, It Was the Sixties!” banner is Rika’s contribution to the Good Guys’ cause: bored and tired of trying to get van Eyck to spend at least some of his time with her (he’s more interested in spying on Yvonne), she decides to do some undercover work herself by enlisting in the local brothel...she’s later applauded by all the Brits for the valuable intel she ends up gathering from her clients and a hearty laugh is had by all.

Death Ray of Dr Mabuse - Pic 1.jpg
The story moves along at a good clip with plenty of action, but really doesn’t come together or make a lot of sense.  It does feature a full-blown underwater battle with a battalion of speargun-wielding frogmen (although in murky black-and-white) a full year before THUNDERBALL.  The screenplay is by Ladislas Fodor, who wrote all but the first of the 1960s Mabuse films as well as several Krimis.  Directorial duties went to Hugo Fregonese, an Argentinian who worked mostly in the U.S. and Europe (he was married to Faith Domergue for over a decade until their divorce in 1958).

According to the German Wikipedia, the Central Cinema Company studio had more films already planned for the series: “The Uncanny Cabinet of Dr. Mabuse” and “The Revenge of Dr. Mabuse”.  But the critical and financial failure of DEATH RAY brought the series to an end.  Probably just as well unless they were thinking of steering the movies back away from Bond and bringing Dr. Mabuse back as a real character and a real threat.

Available in a decent print, cropped to full-screen (with a good English dub), on an Image flipper-DVD three movie set, “The Dr. Mabuse Collection” which presents three of the six films of the 1960s series.  The set was re-released by Bayview Entertainment last fall, in widescreen (but I haven’t seen that set myself).  Also available through Amazon streaming.
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Kelg
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September 16th, 2018, 1:28 am #469

I need to see this for Yvonne Furneaux (Slave Queen of Babylon is the only starring role I have seen her in).
But I have yet to see any Mabuse films (despite being introduced to them in the mid 70s through pictures in the Everson book Classics of the Horror Film). However I would rather watch them chronologically.
Will have to make room for them soon.
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Bob Meyer
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September 16th, 2018, 6:29 pm #470

Then you've gotta watch Hammer's THE MUMMY, Kelg.  Yvonne is stunning in that movie.
For MABUSE, definitely a good idea to watch chronologically, probably ideally starting with Lang's original two from the 20s-30s.  The 60s series is fun, but sort of a case of diminishing returns as it goes along.
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Bob Meyer
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September 16th, 2018, 6:37 pm #471

1964 - DIE GRUFT MIT DEM RÄTSELSCHLOß  (CURSE OF THE HIDDEN VAULT)

Curse of the Hidden Vault.jpg
West Germany.  Literal Title:  “The Vault with the Puzzle Lock”.  Released to U.S. TV as CURSE OF THE HIDDEN VAULT.

Directed by Franz Josef Gottlieb.  Written by Gottlieb and Robert A. Stemmle, based on Edgar Wallace’s novel “Angel Esquire”.

The Story:  A young lady has been summoned to London to inherit a vast fortune, but a gang of criminals kidnaps her in order to get the combination to her benefactor’s secret vault.

Curse of the Hidden Vault - Pic 01.jpg
A Rialto Krimi based on Edgar Wallace’s second novel, and I sure hope the book is better than the movie, because this is Dullsville all the way…definitely one of the worst Krimis I’ve seen so far.

It’s professionally made - director Franz Josef Gottlieb had already proved he knew his way around the genre with THE BLACK ABBOT and THE SECRET OF THE BLACK WIDOW while co-writer Robert Stemmle had a hand in writing THE STRANGE COUNTESS and the remake of THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE - but this movie is just plain boring.

The actors don’t help.  Our lead, Harald Leipnitz, had a long career (we’ll see him again later on in the 1960s) and is OK in his role here, but his character’s motivations are never spelled out - is he a thug or a hero? - and he’s not very sympathetic.  The heroine is played by Judith Dornys, who’s pretty enough but bland and has mostly only one expression - a slightly confused look.  Eddi Arent is on hand as one of a few familiar faces, but that’s not a good thing either.  Eddi can be funny (but usually isn’t), and he’s given a co-starring role here (if there’s a “hero” in this movie, I guess it’s him), a lot of screen time, and he’s annoying the whole way through.  Klaus Kinski is here too, but is given very little to do - I don’t think he has a single line of dialogue.  Werner Peters’ character, as usual, comes to an untimely end due to his own greed and stupidity.

Curse of the Hidden Vault - Pic 02.jpg
Another thing that doesn’t help, but isn’t the filmmakers fault, is the edited print available.  It was originally 91 minutes, but the print via Sinister Cinema is 13 minutes short, and as a result there are a couple of scenes that don’t make logical sense.  Probably doesn’t make that big a difference, though.  Oh yeah - the music is annoying too.

It’s safe (and even recommended) to keep this one locked in the vault unless you’re a completist.  Looks like the contemporary German critics and audiences agreed - it was poorly received at the time.  I watched a cropped, English-dubbed print via Amazon streaming.
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Dr Kelp
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September 16th, 2018, 7:39 pm #472

The German version I have is 87 minutes but have yet to watch it.
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Rick
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September 16th, 2018, 8:20 pm #473

The TORTOISE movie is totally new to me, I'll have to check it out. But HIDDEN VAULT I have seen and do not remember. Probably just as well.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
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Bob Meyer
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September 19th, 2018, 1:43 am #474

1964 - DER HEXER  (THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN)

Hexer.jpg
West Germany.  Literal Title: “The Sorcerer”.  Released in the U.S. as THE WIZARD and THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN.  Also known as THE RINGER.

Directed by Alfred Vohrer.  Written by Herbert Reinecker, based on Edgar Wallace’s novel “The Gaunt Stranger”.

The Story:  The sister of an infamous and exiled criminal called “The Ringer” is murdered in London.  Upon learning that he has vowed to return to England to exact revenge, Scotland Yard finds itself searching for both the girl’s murderer and her vengeful brother.


Another Rialto film based on an Edgar Wallace crime thriller, noted as the 20th Wallace Krimi of the 1960s cycle (wow! only 15 or so more to go).  It was originally published as “The Gaunt Stranger” and made into a movie in Britain in 1928, then adapted by Wallace in 1929 as a play named “The Ringer”, and made into a movie again in Britain in 1931 under that title.  The German title “Hexer” roughly translates to “Sorcerer” (although the English dub sticks with the name “The Ringer”).  Got all that?  Good.

This time out, along with veteran series director Alfred Vohrer, Rialto gives us two of our favorite Krimi heroes: both Joachim Fuchsberger and Heinz Drache.  Other familiar faces include Eddi Arent, Carl Lange, Siegfried Lowitz, and Siegfried Schürenberg (Schürenberg has played the Chief of Scotland Yard, Sir John, in a half dozen of the recent Krimis, fast becoming the equivalent of Bernard Lee’s “M” - although much less competent).  The ladies are, I believe, all Krimi newcomers, including Finnish actress Anneli Sauli as Schürenberg’s shapely and flirtatious secretary and feisty French actress Sophie Hardy as Fuchsberger’s justifiably jealous girlfriend.

The Ringer isn't exactly a criminal or murderer.  He's described as a master mesmerizer responsible for causing the suicides of evil men who avoided legal justice.  He also seems to be a master of disguise and able to appear (and disappear) almost at will.  Scotland Yard is after him to prevent his revenge killing of the white slavers who murdered his sister because she knew too much, but the police never appear to be that keen on catching the original killers.

Hexer - Pic -02.jpg
Overall, DER HEXER is entertaining if not the very best the series has to offer.  The pre-credits murder of the girl features a two-seater mini-submarine used to dispose of the girl’s body in the Thames river, which is nifty.  The credits are in color (a Rialto Krimi trademark for the early-60s black-and-white movies).  Unfortunately, it has one of the worst attempts at driving-in-a-car-in-a-studio back-projection I’ve ever seen.  It boasts a fair number of action and chase scenes.  Director Vohrer always seems compelled to include a bizarre and overly-imaginative camera angle in these movies, and here it’s a shot of a finger dialing a rotary phone…from the phone’s point of view.  I admit that throughout the movie, I was kind of rooting for The Gaunt Stranger  Der Hexer  The Ringer (whoever he might turn out to be).

The one problem I had with the movie was that it ladles on the humor a little too much.   Eddi Arent isn’t given much screen time for his particular brand of comic relief in this outing (Thank You, Rialto!), but Scotland Yard Inspector Fuchsberger frequently plays his character like an over-sexed dimwit - more Matt Helm than James Bond.  Drache plays a more even-keeled and calculating role as a mysterious figure who’s always in the right place at the right time along every step of the investigation.

One thing to note - this is the first in the series with a genuine cliffhanger ending!  Reportedly, the previous two Rialto movies (MARK OF THE TORTOISE and CURSE OF THE HIDDEN VAULT) had done poorly at the box office, but this one was a success.  It was followed in 1965 by the sequel: NEUES VOM HEXER (AGAIN, THE RINGER).

Hexer - Pic -01.jpg
The print I saw via Amazon Streaming (licensed through Sinister Cinema) is widescreen and in great shape, dubbed into English.

And the full film program has been posted online!

http://www.eichwaelder.de/Altes/altesbuch202.htm
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Bob Meyer
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September 21st, 2018, 1:49 am #475

1964 - 6 DONNE PER L'ASSASSINO  (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE)

Blood and Black Lace.jpg
Italy-France-West Germany.  Literal Title: “6 Women for the Killer”.  Released in France as 6 FEMMES POUR L'ASSASSIN, in West Germany as BLUTIGE SEIDE (“Bloody Silk”), and in the UK and U.S. as BLOOD AND BLACK LACE.

Directed by Mario Bava.  Written by Bava, Marcello Fondato, and Giuseppe Barilla.

The Story:  Models from a high-class fashion house are being murdered by a mysterious masked figure searching for the incriminating diary kept by the first victim.


Blood & Black Lace - Pic 04.jpg
One of the big advantages of watching these films in their chronological order (more or less) is being able to recognize and track trends - for instance, the effect Hammer’s Gothics had on Continental European producers or the changes in the Krimis, Mabuse, and Bond films as they influenced each other.  It also makes it easier to recognize which films among their contemporaries broke genuinely new ground, and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is a prime example of the latter.

I first saw this about a year ago and I was blown away by Mario Bava’s use of color and camera movement – Arrow’s Blu-ray of the restored film is amazing.  And now having seen it again, in context with the other movies released the same year (and earlier), it stands in even more stark relief as a bold new step forward.  We’ve seen Bava’s (and also Riccardo Freda’s) use of exotic-colored gels to light what would otherwise be spare or ordinary sets and scenes in BLACK SABBATH and HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (as well as Freda’s MACISTE IN HELL and THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK).  But in BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, Bava truly “paints with light” to create a dazzling and almost psychedelic series of images, whether in a brightly-lit fashion studio, a dark maze of rooms and corridors, or a windy and rainy park.  It’s one of the most beautifully-shot movies I’ve ever seen.  The RED SHOES of European horror.

Blood & Black Lace - Pic 02.jpg
And compared to what had come before, it seems amazingly modern and new - far more violent and shocking than any other movie in this journey so far.  The murders are very, very brutal for 1964 and, of course, in full, lurid color, mixed with a delirious sexual element that even Hammer Films wasn’t reaching for at the time.  It would be interesting to study exactly what must have been trimmed by the censors in various countries.  Is it misogynistic?  Maybe…probably…it certainly set the stage for many a movie to follow that would primarily consist of set-piece murders of beautiful women.  It’s credited by some as the first “Slasher” movie, and that just might be true.  (Bava would go a lot further a few years later with BAY OF BLOOD / TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE which was basically remade as the first FRIDAY THE 13TH movie).

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE also virtually invented the template and style of the Giallo as a cinematic genre – the above-mentioned mix of eroticism and graphic violence along with a masked killer who prefers a black hat, black coat, and black leather gloves.  The killer even wields a straight-razor at one point.  Women are stalked as if by an animal in search of its next meal.  There’s a mystery to be solved over the course of the story (who’s the killer?) but it takes a back seat to the series of shocking murders.  While some say that Bava’s THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH from the previous year is the first true cinematic Giallo, I’d say it starts with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (with the “Telephone” segment of Bava’s BLACK SABBATH as a teaser - in a nice touch, the same telephone shows up more than once in this film).

But it’s also sort of Gothic at the same time, with the wind-swept tunnel of trees that’s the site of the first killing, the labyrinthine antiques store for the second, and a couple of other large, dark, menacing locations.

Blood & Black Lace - Pic 01.jpg
Eva Bartok and Cameron Mitchell headline an ensemble cast featuring several newcomers alongside familiar folk like Dante DiPaolo, Luciano Pigozzi, and Harriet White Medin.  Bartok runs a high-end fashion house in Rome with the help of right-hand-man Mitchell.  One of her models is murdered by a masked killer who is apparently after her diary, which is instead soon found by one of the other models.  Everyone in the fashion house – models, designers, even Bartok and Mitchell – seem to be worried about the contents of the diary, and all the men immediately begin acting as nervously and suspiciously as humanly possible.  Sounds like Victim #1 kept a lot of secrets.

Blood & Black Lace - Pic 03.jpg
But, again, all that just provides a background for the lengthy chase-and-murder scenes.  Bava had a hand in the script, which was primarily written by Marcello Fondato, who had co-written BLACK SABBATH.  American actress Mary Arden (Victim #3) reportedly worked on the dialogue in the screenplay to make it more natural.  The script was in English and the film was shot in English, but the original English audio track with the actors' real voices was thrown out in favor of one featuring Paul Frees voicing most of the male roles.  

Cinematography is officially credited to Ubaldo Terzano, who worked on several of Bava’s films as camera operator (and cinematographer on this, BLACK SABBATH, and THE WHIP AND THE BODY) – but the lighting is Bava all the way.  Carlo Rustichelli’s music score is not what one would expect in this kind of movie and it’s been stuck in my head for the last 48 hours (he has some 270+ music credits on the IMDB, including a boatful of genre films).

Arrow’s Blu-ray is of a restored print and looks amazing.  It offers the Italian audio track with subtitles as well as the English-language track and an audio commentary by Tim Lucas.  Below is CineSavant/DVD Savant Glenn Erickson’s in-depth review, which does a better job describing the experience than I can:

https://trailersfromhell.com/blood-and-black-lace/
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Bob Meyer
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Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:25 am

September 22nd, 2018, 10:12 pm #476

1964 - L'INTRIGO  (DARK PURPOSE)

Dark Purpose.jpg
Italy-France-USA.  Literal Title: “The Intrigue”.  Released in France as MEURTRE PAR ACCIDENT (“Murder by Accident”) and in the U.S. as DARK PURPOSE.

Directed by George Marshall and/or Vittorio Sala.  Written by Massimo D'Avak and David P. Harmon, from Doris Hume Kilburn’s novel “Dark Purpose”.

The Story:  A young American woman travels to Rome to help appraise a large estate for insurance purposes and  becomes romantically involved with the estate’s owner.  However, suspicions about him begin to build due to the strange behavior of his amnesiac daughter and the possibility that his wife, who he says died several years earlier, is still alive.


With this film, we go from the bold new stylings of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE back to a much more old-fashioned story in both plot and execution, in the tradition of REBECCA, SUSPICION, and JANE EYRE.  Troy Howarth counts this as a Giallo in his book “So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films” but admits that it just barely passes muster as such.  I agree that it might be a Giallo in the literary sense, but it’s really just a standard movie romance/thriller.

The underappreciated Shirley Jones is our heroine, and while her character makes some overly impulsive choices during the movie, she’s beautiful and likable and we’re rooting for her all the way.  George Sanders is on hand as the acerbic and petulant “George Sanders” character - he’s the lead insurance appraiser with Jones working as his brainy assistant.  Italian actor Rossano Brazzi is the handsome, wealthy, and rather suspicious-seeming aristocrat who sweeps Jones off of her feet.  Brazzi starred in countless American and European movies over the course of a long career (THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, SUMMERTIME, THE ITALIAN JOB, etc.).  His character's daughter, who has been mentally unstable and a halfway-amnesiac since a skiing accident a few years before, is played by the attractive Italian actress Giorgia Moll.

Dark Purpose - Pic 01.jpg
There really isn’t much to say about this one - it’s middle-of-the-road fare for its ilk and we’ve seen all of this before.  Like Hitchcock’s SUSPICION, a good chunk of the movie involves the flirtations between our two leads.  Then genuine suspicion begins to mount, with Brazzi’s landowner looking more and more sinister, and the only question we have to build our suspense upon is whether or not, in the end, Brazzi will be revealed as having been a Good Guy all along.  The faded color on the print I saw doesn’t hide the fact that the movie was filmed on some beautiful Italian locations and I’ll bet it looked great on the big screen.

Although shot in Rome with an Italian crew, this was probably more of an American than an Italian production in terms of money and control.  Massimo D’Avak, the Italian co-writer, has only a few films on his résumé, although they include future Gialli SO SWEET…SO PERVERSE and THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK.  The American co-writer, David P. Harmon, has dozens of credits from the 1950s through the 1970s, mostly for U.S. television including Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island (but not The Partridge Family!).  The director’s credit depends on which country you saw the movie in: Italian prints credited little-known documentary (and soon to be Eurospy) filmmaker Vittorio Sala, while American prints credit famed veteran director George Marshall (whose billion directorial jobs - going back to the silent days - include THE GHOST BREAKERS, DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, THE BLUE DAHLIA, THE GHOST BREAKERS SCARED STIFF, and THE GAZEBO).  Odds are Marshall sat in the chair the whole time and Sala was paid to fulfill the Italian quota requirements.

One odd scene makes me suspect that Sanders, on the day of shooting, refused to follow the script.  His character, while backing up for a better photo of an outdoor statue, back-steps into an ankle-deep fountain - it’s supposed to be a slightly comedic scene.  But the dialogue - during the scene itself - talks about him falling into the water, getting soaked and muddy, and needing to be helped out.  It seems to have been filmed, English dialogue and all, exactly the way we see and hear it on screen, with Sanders standing in about 4 inches of water, and it makes no sense at all.  

I can’t really recommend DARK PURPOSE, but it’s certainly not bad.  It’s just not very original.  If, like me, you have a phobia of menacing, barking dogs, there are a couple of scenes that will make you squirm.  Watched this on YouTube in the English-language version (it looks like it was entirely shot in English except for the characters who speak to each other in Italian)  - cropped, faded, and compressed, but still watchable.

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Bob Meyer
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Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:25 am

Yesterday, 2:12 am #477

1964 - IL SEGRETO DEL VESTITO ROSSO  (ASSASSINATION IN ROME)

Assassination in Rome.jpg
Italy-Spain-France.  Literal Title: “The Secret of the Red Dress”.  Released in Spain as EL SECRETO DE BILL NORTH (“The Secret of Bill North”) and in the U.S. as ASSASSINATION IN ROME.

Directed by Silvio Amadio.  Written by Amadio and Giovanni Simonelli.

The Story:  Shelley North, an American heiress on holiday in Rome, reports her husband as missing the same night a murdered man is found near the Trevi Fountain.  An old flame or hers, Dick Sherman, an American ex-pat newspaperman, helps her try to discover his whereabouts.  They soon discover the missing man was caught up in a web of drug trafficking, international espionage, and murder.
 

I’m not going to spill too much digital ink on this one.  Troy Howarth lists it as a Giallo in his book, and it’s listed as such at various places online.  Maybe I don’t understand what a cinematic Giallo is supposed to be, but if this movie is under that umbrella, I’m guessing any Italian thriller of any kind at this point in the 1960s is considered a Giallo.  Hitchcock's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is more of a Giallo than this movie.  This is a crime thriller, pure and simple.

Assassination in Rome - Pic.jpg
Not that it’s a bad crime thriller.  Cyd Charisse and Hugh O’Brian are our leads.  The only familiar genre name and face is Eleonora Rossi Drago (CARPET OF HORROR, HYPNOSIS) as O’Brian’s fellow newspaper columnist and past girlfriend.  Writer/director Silvio Amadio had made MINOTAUR, THE WILD BEAST OF CRETE in 1960 but doesn’t have all many credits on the IMDB overall.  His co-writer, Giovanni Simonelli, has a slew of credits ranging from Pepla to Westerns to Eurospy movies, along with a couple of feline-centric Giallo/Horror movies to come: Antonio Margheriti’s SEVEN DEAD IN THE CAT’S EYE and Lucio Fulci’s A CAT IN THE BRAIN.

One thing maybe worth noting - Cyd Charisse was 42 or 43 years old (and still looking great) when this was made, and Eleonora Rossi Drago about 40.  While European movies from the 1960s are well known for featuring beautiful, nubile young ladies as a matter of course, European filmmakers during this time also often cast more mature actresses in leading and romantic roles - more often than in Hollywood.  Or, at least, that’s my impression on this journey so far.  

ASSASSINATION IN ROME was filmed in Rome and also Madrid (subbing for Naples) in English.  It’s an OK crime thriller/adventure with some nice location shooting in Rome, a couple of good action scenes, and some unwelcome comic relief.  I saw this on YouTube in English and in its original 2.35 “Totalscope” format, compressed, and a bit washed out.  One problem - it might be missing a reel…listed on IMDB at 110 minutes (which is a little too long for this story anyway) the YouTube print is 100 minutes (but in total runs 110) and has no end titles - the ending fades to black and then jumps back to an earlier point in the movie for the remaining ten minutes of the video’s “running time”.  I’ve encountered the same thing at least a couple of times before on YouTube and don’t understand why the uploaders do that.

Last edited by Bob Meyer on September 23rd, 2018, 3:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Dr Kelp
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Joined: November 27th, 2016, 2:34 am

Yesterday, 2:54 am #478

I saw this not too long ago but no way is this Giallo. My copy runs 100 minutes
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Bob Meyer
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Joined: January 12th, 2011, 3:25 am

Yesterday, 3:25 am #479

Dr Kelp wrote: I saw this not too long ago but no way is this Giallo. My copy runs 100 minutes
Thanks as usual for the clarification, Doc.  And I'm glad I'm not alone in rejecting this as a Giallo.  For paperback pulp fiction in the Italian tradition of books with yello (giallo) covers, maybe this would count.  Agatha Christie, Edgar Wallace, Dashiell Hammett...these were all published in Italy as "Giallo" novels in their day (1920s-1950s and beyond) along with many other authors then and later.  But as for movies, the tag "Giallo" is much more specific, I think.  I guess I'll be better able to wrap my mind around the issue once I've seen a few more years' worth of movies that are widely considered to be Gialli.
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Jameselliot
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Joined: June 23rd, 2012, 11:09 pm

Yesterday, 4:00 am #480

Bob Meyer wrote: 1964 - IL SEGRETO DEL VESTITO ROSSO  (ASSASSINATION IN ROME)

Assassination in Rome.jpg
Italy-Spain-France.  Literal Title: “The Secret of the Red Dress”.  Released in Spain as EL SECRETO DE BILL NORTH (“The Secret of Bill North”) and in the U.S. as ASSASSINATION IN ROME.

Directed by Silvio Amadio.  Written by Amadio and Giovanni Simonelli.

The Story:  Shelley North, an American heiress on holiday in Rome, reports her husband as missing the same night a murdered man is found near the Trevi Fountain.  An old flame or hers, Dick Sherman, an American ex-pat newspaperman, helps her try to discover his whereabouts.  They soon discover the missing man was caught up in a web of drug trafficking, international espionage, and murder.
 

I’m not going to spill too much digital ink on this one.  Troy Howarth lists it as a Giallo in his book, and it’s listed as such at various places online.  Maybe I don’t understand what a cinematic Giallo is supposed to be, but if this movie is under that umbrella, I’m guessing any Italian thriller of any kind at this point in the 1960s is considered a Giallo.  Hitchcock's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is more of a Giallo than this movie.  This is a crime thriller, pure and simple.

Assassination in Rome - Pic.jpg
The bizarre climax and identity of the killer did tread into giallo territory. That ending reminded me of Cat O' Nine Tails without the Argento flair for operatic violence.
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