Thursday, November 20, 2014

Misc. Film Fun: Boogie Down!


Like to dance? We do — not that we're really all that good at it, though. One person that was, however, was Rita Hayworth (17 Oct 1918 – 14 May 1987) — not surprisingly, seeing that she came from a family with a long tradition of professional dancing. And one person that still is good at dancing is Christopher Walken, who seems to wiggle his hips at least once in almost all his movies.
What follows below are two fan-made dance videos that are always a gas to see, one for each previously mentioned legend, cut together from past movies of the given star and edited to dance classics of what is slowly but surely becoming not the recent past: Rita to the BeeGees' Stayin' Alive, the #1 hit from 1978 (#189 on the list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time) and Walken to the early — and great — House hit from C+C Music Factory, Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), which hit #2 on the Billboard charts in 1990. Enjoy!

Rita Hayworth is Stayin' Alive:
Films used by the video's creator, et7waage1: Down to Earth (1947), You'll Never Get Rich (1941), Tonight and Every Night (1945), Cover Girl (1944), You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Gilda (1946), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953), My Gal Sal (1942), Pal Joey (1957), and Affair in Trinidad (1952).

Christopher Walken supercut — Dance Now:
"A music video starring the one and only Christopher Walken. Compiled and edited by Ben Craw. A Smash TV production." Films used: Roseland (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978), Brainstorm (1983), Pennies from Heaven (1981), The Dead Zone (1983), A View To A Kill (1985), At Close Range (1986), Puss in Boots (1988), Homeboy (1988), Communion (1989), King of New York (1990), The Comfort of Strangers (1990), Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991), All-American Murder (1991), Batman Returns (1992), Skylark (1993), True Romance (1993), Wayne's World 2 (1993), A Business Affair (1994), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Prophecy (1995), Search and Destroy (1995), Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), The Funeral (1996), Suicide Kings (1997), Mousehunt (1997), New Rose Hotel (1998), Blast from the Past (1999), Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Opportunists (2000), Scotland, Pa. (2001), Joe Dirt (2001), America's Sweethearts (2001), The Affair of the Necklace (2001), Poolhall Junkies (2002), The Country Bears (2002), Undertaking Betty (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gigli (2003), The Rundown (2003), Man on Fire (2004), Envy (2004), The Stepford Wives (2004), Around the Bend (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), Romance & Cigarettes (2005), Domino (2005), Click (2006), Fade to Black (2006), Man of the Year (2006), Hairspray (2007), Balls of Fury (2007), $5 a Day (2008), The Maiden Heist (2009), Stand Up Guys (2012), A Late Quartet (2012),and The Power of Few (2013).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Zombie Massacre (2013)

Wow! It only took 15 years for Zombie Massacre, the Commodore Amiga computer video game that you've never heard of, originally released in 1998, to finally make it to the little screen — as a direct-to-DVD Uwe Boll production. (We can't help but suspect that the blood and explosions in the video game, despite the year of its genesis, are surely better and more convincing than the CGI blood and explosions of the movie.)
Not that we knew it was a Boll production when we put it on: it was merely one of some dozens of movies in the "Zombie Movies" folder on our pal's computer, where it resided under the title it was released as in Great Britain, Apocalypse Z, a title clearly intended to ride on the coattails of the far more famous and successful big budget B-movie and Brad Pitt vehicle, World War Z (2013 / trailer). Had we known from the start it was a Boll production, we probably would've skipped it, because we are not a fan of him or his movies. His films are the only ones we know of that are continually worse than anything by The Asylum, if only because they — amazingly enough — are made with so much less care.
Be what it may, however, Zombie Massacre begins with an introductory scene before the credits run, a scene that sets up the situation in which most of the remaining movie is set. And this pre-credit sequence is without a doubt a total knockout. Built around a brief insight into the depressing and dead-end life of a factory woman leading up to her conversion into a zombie, the excellently directed and set interlude overflows with an existential bleakness that literally planted a hook firmly in our gums and made us want to see the movie. And roughly 85 minutes later, the movie then ended with a closing scene that was a joy: a hilariously breast-heavy and bloody ode to T&A&B&G (tits and ass and blood and guts) exploitation set at pool party heavy with silicone. Great.
The problem, however, is that everything in-between those two outstanding scenes sucks. Though the script and directorial credits are given to two Italians, Luca Boni and Marco Ristori, who perhaps allowed themselves to show some notable talent in those two scenes, the rest of the movie is 100% Uwe Boll at his worst — in other words, a senseless and boring exercise in Z-grade filmmaking.
To give credit to the plus points, it should be mentioned that most of the zombies look pretty groovy and groaty, if a little bit too much like those of the crappy no-budget Aussie flick, The Dark Lurking (2012). Here, too, however, the Boll effect sneaks through on occasion: one or two or three zombies look like they're wearing ill-fitting face masks, and the Zombie King that shows up at for the final showdown is too over-the-top and out-of-the-blue to be good for anything other than a laugh.
Another plus point, of course, in the fabulous weightlifter Christian Boeving as the movie's lead hero Jack Stone. We gotta admit we've had a (to use a definite misnomer) soft spot for him ever since we caught his movie debut, as "Lance Bronson", in Chi Chi La Rue's X-rated flick Posing Strap (1994), where he blows his load for Zak Spears. (We have yet to catch his only other known porn job, a solo scene as "Eric Masterson" in Crystal Crawford's Coverboys [1996] — but we will, one day.) In Zombie Massacre, however, the only skin he shows is his fabulous hairless torso in a singular and out-of-place two-second scene and, regrettably, he remains fully clothed for the rest of the movie. (That's him, by the way, on the Posing Strap poster below.) As Jack, he plays a man with nothing left to lose who joins three mercenaries to try to put an end to the "situation".
And what is the situation? An explosion at a top secret and illegal bio-warfare experiments site run by the evil US government in a small Eastern European country releases an agent that turns all the locals into kill-happy mutant zombies with bad teeth and skin. Jack and his team of mercenaries — bomber John 'Mad Dog' McKellen (Mike Mitchell), sniper Dragan Ilic (Daniel Vivian) and Asian samurai Eden Shizuka (played by a very Caucasian Tara Cardinal) — go in to place a bomb at the power plant so contain the situation by wiping the place off the face of the earth in a faked nuclear meltdown and explosion. Once there, they find out they've been double-crossed by General Carter (a much too young and too English Carl Wharton) and now have but an hour to fight their way through the zombie-infested town to get to the airport and escape...
A simple and non-involving plot that has enough holes in it to be mistaken as Swiss cheese, but which should nevertheless be enough to make a feature-length movie around. But somehow, the filmmakers fail at this and, instead, pad about a 20 minute's worth of zombie action with triple the amount of pointless and aggravating dialogue and long scenes in which nothing happens. And, really, Uwe Boll — with an accent thicker than Arnie's — doing a cameo as the President of the United States? No, it's not funny, it's insulting. Is it really that hard to find cheap and desperate American actors? (Of some fun in this regard, at least, is Jon Campling [of our Short Film of the Month of April 2013, Dead Man's Lake], who plays the involuntarily involved tourist — "entrepreneur" — Doug Mulligan; an Englishman playing an American, he doesn't just overact a storm, he actually over-accents a storm.)
Whatever. Zombie Massacre is simply another sorry-ass Boll film that definitely does not require viewing — as a whole film. On a trash level, the trailer above is far more entertaining than the movie itself. On a cinematic level, the pre-credit sequence is well worth watching — but do yourself a favor and either turn the flick off once the credits begin to roll or, if you're in the mood for some grindhouse-flavored sleaze, hop forward to the movie's final scene at the swimming pool. Everything else is truly a waste of your time... and face it, you ain't getting any younger.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

R.I.P.: Joachim "Blacky" Fuchsberger, Part II (1961-65)


11 March 1927 — 11 September 2014
 
The German-Australian actor seen in numerous fun Edgar Wallace movies and krimis and more. He always got the girl. In the English-speaking world, he was sometimes credited as Akim Berg or Berger. Here is a meandering, train-of-thought look at some of his films and whatever caught our attention while dong the research...

Go here for Part I (1953-60).



Die toten Augen von London
(1961, dir. Alfred Vohrer [29 Dec 1914 — 3 Feb 1986])

English Trailer:
When this movie came out, it quickly became the most successful of all Wallace films to that date. Aka The Dead Eyes of London, the movie, the fifth in the Rialto Wallace series, is Fuchsberger's third Wallace movie; it is also the one-armed director Alfred Vohrer's first Wallace movie (he did a total of 13) and first job with Fuchsberger — and what can we say other than we think this film the bee's knees! We've seen it, and actually have a review on the backburner that one day, some day, we'll put on A Wasted Life. But for now, let's just say: it's a fun fucking film.
The second film version of Wallace's 1924 novel The Dark Eyes of London, the previous version of which, entitled The Human Monster (1939 / trailer) in the USA, even stars the great (?) Bela Lugosi and an undeservedly long-forgotten Norwegian-born British blonde named Greta Gynt (of Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons [1960 / opening credits]) in her only known horror film. The great Jess Franco made his own unofficial and extremely loose and naturally uncredited adaptation of the book in 1962, The Awful Dr. Orlof (trailer).
Full Movie —
The Human Monster (1939):
DVD Drive-In, which inexplicitly calls the movie "a mildly entertaining crime thriller with splashes of horror thrown in to awaken the more easily bored members of the audience", supplies the basic plot: "A crotchety old man walking the foggy streets of London is viciously attacked and killed by a giant bald brute (Ady Berber) with white eyes and a blind stare. The attack is just one in a series of unexplained murders committed all over the city, all rich old men, all foreigners, and all with hefty life insurance policies. The police investigate into a shady church populated by a dozen blind beggars and overseen by a questionable reverend. Could these blind men be the culprits of the sadistic butcherings?"
Fuchsberger gets the men, and gets the girl.
German Trailer:




Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen
(1961, dir. Ákos Ráthonyi [as Akos von Rathony])
Fuchsberger went straight from The Dead Eyes of London to this, the German version of Edgar Wallace's 1920 novel The Daffodil Mystery. It is the first and luckily only Wallace movie directed by the somnambulant, Budapest-born director Ákos Ráthonyi (26 March 1908 — 6 January 1969). Two years later, in 1964, Rathony made his most interesting if nevertheless incompetent movie Blutrausch der Vampire aka Der Fluch der grünen Augen aka Die Grotte der lebenden Toten aka Night of the Vampires aka The Cave of the Living Dead, and died a year after his last, a typically unfunny German sex comedy, Zieh dich aus, Puppe (1968).
The Full Movie —
Cave of the Living Dead:
Like The Dead Eyes of London, we have seen this movie and have a review on the backburner for future publication. For now, however, we'll just preview the first paragraph: "Producer Horst Wendlandt made this film as a joint production with the British production firm Omnia in London. As a result, aside from the extraordinary amount of exterior scenes for a Wallace film (which usually tend to be studio bound), two versions of the movie were filmed simultaneously, one in English and the other in German. Although both versions utilized the same crew and most of the same secondary and background actors, the lead roles were filled by different actors, depending on the language. In the English-language version, entitled The Devil's Daffodil, William Lucas (of Tower of Evil [1972 / trailer, starring Jill Haworth] and Shadow of the Cat [1961 / full movie]) starred as Jack Tarling instead of Joachim Fuchsburger, Penelope Horner (of Inferno 2000 [1977 / trailer] and Dracula [1974 / trailer]) was Anne Rider instead of Sabine Sesselman and, unbelievably enough, Klaus Kinski was replaced by Colin Jeavons (of Frankenstein Created Woman [1967 / trailer] and Schizo [1976 / movie]) as Peter Keene. In truth, however, no matter which version of the movie one sees, Akos Ràthonyi's unbelievably lifeless direction remains the same. Thus, of course, the final cinematic experience also remains the same: Das Geheimnis der gelben Narzissen is a dull sleeping pill, a snoozer that in no way requires re-evaluation, rediscovery or even your attention when nothing else is on the tube." (Didn't stop the movie from being a hit when it was released, however.)
To use the simple plot description found at Fantastic Movie Musings & Ramblings: "Scotland Yard enlists the help of a Chinese detective (Christopher Lee [!]) in solving a case of drug smugglers who hide their goods in the stems of daffodils, and to find the identity of a killer associated with the smuggling."
German Trailer:



Die seltsame Gräfin
(1961, dir. Josef von Báky)

German Trailer:
Aka The Strange Countess, and based on the Wallace 1925 novel The Strange Countess. From The Daffodil Mystery, Fuchsberger went straight to this, one of the supposed best of all the best German Wallace movies. We have yet to see it.
It was the last movie project of director Josef von Báky (23 March 1902 — 28 July 1966), who won the Mussolini Cup for Annelie (1941 / some music) at the 1941 Venice Film Festival. He is perhaps best remembered for the classic German movie, ordered to be produced by Joseph Goebbels and starring Hans Albers, Münchhausen (1943 / full movie). Although un-credited, German director Jürgen Roland (of 4 Schlüssel [1966] and Der rote Kreis [1960]) was pulled in to finish the movie after Báky fell ill.
English Trailer:
To loosely translate the plot as given at Remember It for Later: "On the very day that Margaret Lois Reedle (Brigitte Grothum of Wolfgang Schleif's psycho-thriller Der rote Rausch* [1962 / German trailer]) quits her job at the offices of the lawyer Shaddle (Fritz Rasp) for a position as the personal secretary of Countess Moron (Lil Dagover [30 Sept 1887 — 23 Jan 1980]), a mysterious (Klaus Kinski) first begins harassing her over the phone and then begins following up on his murderous threats. Only through the help of a stranger, Mike Dorn (Joachim Fuchsberger), does Margaret stay alive. A little later she learns to her horror that her mother was only her adoptive mother: her real mother is the convicted murderer Mary Pinder (Marianne Hoppe of Ten Little Indians [1965 / trailer]), who is due to be released from prison soon...."
* Sold as a Wallace thriller, but it ain't.
Both Marianne Hoppe (26 April 1909 — 23 Oct 2002) and Lil Dagover (born Marie Antonia Siegelinde Martha Seubert), of course, were former ("apolitical") NS movie star elite who enjoyed an occasional invitation to dinner at The Fuhrer's. Lil Dagover starred is some early German silent films and masterpieces, including Fritz Lang's Harakiri (1919 / full movie) and Der Müde Tod aka Destiny (1921 / movie), Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 / see below), and F.W. Murnau's Phantom (1922 / movie) and Tartüff (1925 / movie). She appeared in only one English-language production, Michael Curtiz's The Woman from Monte Carlo (1932).
Full Movie —
Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:



Der Teppich des Grauens
(1962, dir. Harald Reinl)
The influence of the success of the Rialto Edgar Wallace series could be noticeable felt mere months after the first two (Der Frosch mit der Maske [1959] and Der rote Kreis [1960]) pulled the people into the cinemas, and before long the film production houses of Europe were regurgitating their own krimis and wannabe Wallaces using, among others, the novels of Edgar Wallace's own son, Brian Edgar Wallace.
Among other sources mined were also the books of the now-forgotten but at the time still-in-print crime novelist named Louis Weinert-Wilton (11 May 1875 — 4 Sept 1945), who himself was in his day a bit of a Wallace wannabe. Born Alois Weinert, the exact number of crime novels he wrote is open to discussion, but 11 are known; he died in a Czechoslovakian POW camp shortly before the war ended, so he never got to enjoy seeing the film "series" that resulted from his work — and a "series" (quote/unquote) it was, indeed, as most of the four movies based on his novels (this one, Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Witwe [1963 / trailer], Die weiße Spinne [1963 / looked at later] and Das Geheimnis der chinesischen Nelke [1964 / trailer]) were made by different studios. All however, shared stars and directors from the Wallace films, both Edgar's and Brian's. Here, for example, there are Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and director Harald Reinl — and two other Rialto Wallace regulars, Werner Peters and Carl Lange.
A more stupid title can perhaps not be found: The Carpet of Horror, a title perhaps not outdone until the infamous Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977 / see below). But unlike that movie, this one here is not a horror movie but a crime thriller. And the German-language website Remember It for Later has the plot, which we very loosely translate as: "The Carpet of Horror tells of a mysterious series of murders: a variety of people fall victim to a deadly poison gas, which is released by the disintegration of small, harmless-looking balls. These balls are particularly potent when they land on precious carpets, which is the truly idiotic reason behind already stupid title. The secret service agent Raffold (Joachim Fuchsberger) as well as Ann Learner (Karin Dor), niece of one of the victims, are out to find out who's behind the murders, which involve a criminal organization led by an unknown biggie..."
The Full Movie —
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977):
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings says: The carpet is largely incidental [...]. Nonetheless, it's a fun if somewhat confusing movie. You get quite a few characters thrown at you and you spend most of the plot trying to figure out who they are; are they good guys? Bad guys? Incidental characters? And who is the leader of the organization? Actually, the last one was fairly easy to figure out." 
Interesting aspects to Der Teppich des Grauens include the facts that Raffold (Fuchsberger) is given a Black sidekick (Pierre Besari of Vengeance of the Zombies [1973 / trailer]) who — a rarity for the day, especially in Germany — is not a joke figure but a competent assistant, and that the movie was co-written by Eugenio "Gene" Martin, director of the classic Horror Express (1972) and the far less well-known Wallace wanna-be, Hipnosis (1962).
The Full Movie —
Horror Express (1972):




 Das Gasthaus an der Themse
(1962, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

Trailer:
Shown on TV in the US as The Inn on the River. Oops — another movie for which we have a review on our back burner. Alfred Vohrer's third Edgar Wallace movie is another one of the better ones. Sure it's cheesy at times, and maybe it could've used a little less humor and, yes, Vohrer could've made it much darker and much better — this movie is far more a crime film than a horror film — but for all its faults it is continually entertaining and enjoyable. We doubt that there is a single Wallace film featuring the grand dame of the series, Elisabeth Flickenschildt (16 March 1905 — 26 Oct 1977), a former member of the NSDAP, that is a total loser of a movie. Klaus Kinski, the accused child molester, is also on hand of course, and there's a twist to his character that you really don't expect. And the great Martin Böttcher does the soundtrack, his second time for a Wallace film. And Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg [12 Jan 1900 — 31 Aug 1993]) makes his second of 13 appearances as well. And Fuchsberger plays good guy Insp. Wade, who gets the bad guy and the girl...
Das Gasthaus an der Themse is considered (by ticket sales) the most successful of all Wallace movies.
From the Movie —
Elisabeth Flickenschild sings Was in der Welt passiert:
The movie is based on Wallace's book The Indian Rubber Men, which had already been filmed in 1938 by Maurice Elvey as The Return of the Frog and sold as a sequel to the 1937 film The Frog, which, the astute among you might rightly conjecture, was an earlier version of The Fellowship of the Frog (1959). This version of the book, made as Das Gasthaus an der Themse, is a stand alone movie and has nothing to do with the 1959 flick starring Fuchsberger.
To loosely translate the plot description at Das Filmlexicon: "A harmless whiskey smuggler is found dead on his boat, killed with a harpoon — the hallmark of the mysterious bad guy 'The Shark'! Scotland Yard faces a mystery. The Shark has been spreading fear and terror in the criminal underworld for a long time already, but he always escapes through the sewers of London. Inspector Wade (Joachim Fuchsberger) finally has a promising lead: the 'Mekka', an ominous port-side pub not far from the scene of the crime. The owner Mrs. Nelly Oaks (Elisabeth Flickenschildt) and her beautiful foster daughter Leila Smith (Brigitte Grothum) supposedly noticed nothing of the murder, but seem to know more. The situation comes to a head when Wade gets an unexpected visit in his office: he can't believe his eyes when the door opens — and the Shark is standing in front of him ... The film was shot completely in black and white; only the texts of the opening and closing credits are colored. Also, it is the first film that opens with the famous spoken phrase 'Hello! Edgar Wallace speaking'."
Not From the Movie (Per Se) —
Tanja Berg sings Besonders in der Nacht:




Der Fluch der gelben Schlange
(1963, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)

German Trailer to
Der Fluch der gelben Schlange:
Aka The Curse of the Yellow Snake, it is based on the Wallace novel The Yellow Snake which, no, is not a horror novel about a coolie's killer dick with a life of its own. For a plotline like that — just without the coolie — you need to watch either Pervert! (2005 / trailer) or One-Eyed Monster (2008 / trailer).
Der Fluch der gelben Schlange, the 13th of the German Wallace series, was the first of three Wallace films Franz Josef Gottlieb (1 Nov 1930 — 23 July 2006) was to make, none of which qualify as the best of the series, though his second, Der schwarze Abt aka The Black Abbot, also from 1963, is far more successful than this racist-tinged, imitation Fu Man Chu adventure movie. Like the interesting but badly flawed and racist Kurt Ulrich-produced Wallace film Die Racher aka The Avenger (1960 / German trailer), Der Fluch der gelben Schlange is not a Rialto production; here, Artur Brauner's production company CCC-Film was behind the film (his only other Wallace production is Jess Franco's Der Teufel kam aus Akasava (1971 / trailer). Due to the legalities of the agreement with the distribution firm Constantine Films, which also distributed the Rialto Wallaces, The Curse of the Yellow Snake even opens with the famous "Hier spricht Edgar Wallace" opening intonation.
Film Affinity has a succinct one-line plot description: "A Chinese cult bent on taking over the world uses an idol called The Golden Reptile that they believe can give them the power to achieve their goal."
Scene from
Der Fluch der gelben Schlange:
One of the most mundanely middle-of-the-road TV guides of Germany, TV Spielfilm, finds the movie stupid: "Intellectual flights of fancy could never be expected from the Edgar Wallace films, but they were usually charming in an old-fashioned way due to their harmless chiller appeal. In this case, however, not only the far-fetched plot is annoying, but also the clearly racist allusions in the dialogues and roles: the Chinese are evil, submissive and dying to kill, while the whites all 'good guys'."
This doesn't seem to bother the New York Times, however: "Curse of the Yellow Snake is a rip-roaring entry in Germany's series of low-budget films based on the works of Edgar Wallace. This time the filmmakers have borrowed a page from 'Fu Manchu' creator Sax Rohmer, spinning a yarn about an Oriental cult's revolt against the white race. The names in the cast list are decidedly Teutonic, indicating that the 'Orientals' seen throughout are literally skin-deep. [...] Curse of the Yellow Snake establishes mood and tension early on, seldom letting up throughout its 98 minutes (much longer than usual for a Wallace film)."
Director Franz Josef Gottlieb, by the way, was later a highly productive director of German soft-core sex films and comedies and other German trash before finally disappearing into TV-land. We looked briefly at two of his later films — Hurra, die Schwedinnen sind da / Hurray, The Swedish Girls Have Arrived (1979 / full film in German with Russian narration) and Lady Dracula (1977 / German trailer) — in our R.I.P. Career Review of Heinz Reincke. Other Gottlieb films of note include the Bryan Edgar Wallace krimis Das Phantom von Soho (1964, with Elisabeth Flickenschildt / German trailer) and Das siebente Opfer (1964 / scene), the Wallace film Die Gruft mit dem Rätselschloß (1964 / German trailer), the Louis Weinert-Wilton krimi Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Witwe (1963 / German trailer), and [*snore*] the "documentary" Das Wunder der Liebe aka The Mystery of Love (1968).
 
German Trailer to
Das Wunder der Liebe aka The Mystery of Love (1968):




Mystery Submarine
(1963, dir. C.M. Pennington-Richards)
Not to be confused with the Douglas Sirk film, Mystery Submarine (1954), poster below. Aka Decoy aka Die letzte Fahrt von U 153 and/or U 153 antwortet nicht. Suddenly, amidst all the lead to secondary lead roles in the plethora of krimis, Fuchberger takes a minor role as the German Cmdr. Scheffler in an inconsequential English war movie directed by the inconsequential C.M. Pennington-Richards (17 Dec 1911 — 2 Jan 2005). The movie is not on our list of must-sees.
Over at Answers.com, Eleanor Mannikka says: "This routine wartime drama is set at sea and involves a British convoy trying to elude a group of German U-Boats. After one of the U-Boats is singled out and captured, the British admiral (James Robertson Justice of Histoires extraordinaires [1968 / trailer] and Zeta One [1969 / trailer]) in charge of the current operation hits upon an ingenious but almost suicidal way of defeating the Nazi boats. He orders Lt. Commander Tarlton (Edward Judd of Island of Terror [1966 / trailer], X: The Unknown [1956 / trailer] and The Vault of Horror [1973 / trailer below]) and a group of men to get in the captured U-Boat and then join the other U-Boats as though they had simply wandered off course for awhile. If done quickly and efficiently, Tarlton should be able to radio back the position of the enemy for a fast British offensive. Not an easy task in itself, and made much worse considering that the RAF and other British ships are going to consider the decoy U-Boat to be the enemy."
Brit Movie says that "a potentially interesting scenario becomes a routine wartime naval drama under the limp direction of C.M. Pennington-Richards. Based on the play by Jon Manchip White, and using actual archive wartime footage, Mystery Submarine boasts a sturdy ensemble cast but it can't be escaped that the film appears absurdly out of time. [...]"
Trailer to
The Vault of Horror:




Die weiße Spinne
(1963, dir. Harald Reinl)

Scene from
Die weiße Spinne:
Aka The White Spider. Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and Harald Reinl together again for another Louis Weinert-Wilton adaptation; we've seen it and love it — it is one of the best non-Wallace Wallaces around. Click on the German title above to read our review of the movie.
 
The blogspot Hallo, hier spricht... has the following plot synopsis: "When her husband, a gambler, is found killed in a car crash with a white spider as a key ring in his possession (his talisman but also the symbol for one of London's most notorious contract killer gangs) the insurance company refuses to pay for his life insurance and his wife (Karin Dor) is forced to work for her living in a reform society for convicts where she meets Ralph Hubbard (Joachim Fuchsberger) who was recently released from Dartmoor. Scotland Yard strongly suspects the wife of being involved in the killing but also needs to take drastic measures when one leading policeman is found dead as well. They bring in a mysterious Australian crime fighter who prefers to hang on to his anonymity and conducts his interviews hidden from view by a couple of beaming lights. One-eyed men, strange Indians and oh-so altruistic priests all stand in the way of solving the mystery behind the killings that shock London."
Full Movie at
the Internet Archives:




Der schwarze Abt
(1963, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)
 
German Trailer to
Der schwarze Abt:
Based on the Wallace novel of the same name, The Black Abbot, which had already been filmed in Britain in 1934 by the forgotten director George A. Cooper (he also made the 1933 version of The Shadow [full film]). This, Franz Josef Gottlieb's second Wallace film — the 13th of the series — is perhaps his best, which also means that there are many better ones out there. Still, we saw it long ago and liked it — we always like the more gothic-looking Wallace films — but simply never got around to writing about it. Among the regular faces to appear in Der schwarze Abt, it is the seventh Wallace for both Joachim Fuchsberger and the child molester Klaus Kinski, and the twelth for Eddi Arent.
To loosely translate the German text at New Video: "The ghostly old ruins of Fossaway Abbey loom in the dark of the night. A sinister figure in a black robe, the hood pulled low over his head, disappears silently into the archway of the building. Silently the masked shadow follows a man — and the next day the dead body of hunting manager (Kurd Pieritz) is found in the old abbey. Detective Puddler (Charles Régnier) and his assistant Horatio W. Smith (Eddi Arent) take up lodgings in the nearby castle of the intransparent Lord Harry Chelford (Dieter Borsche of The Brain [1962 / trailer]), whose claims that the killer is an old ghost, the so-called 'Black Abbot', falls upon deaf ears. Detective Puddler believes that the fabled treasure of the Abbey is the true reason behind the murder..."
More deaths follow, of course. Fuchsberger plays Dick Alford, Lord Chelford's cousin and rival for the attentions of the film's lead female, Leslie Gine (Grit Boettcher of Der Tod im roten Jaguar [1968 / trailer] and the comic Wallace homage Der Wixxer [2004 / see below]).
German Trailer to
Der Wixxer (2004):
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings says that they were "initially excited about viewing this entry in Germany's series of Edgar Wallace movies; it was really shaping up to be something special. Unfortunately, disappointment set in fairly early; the story involves a bewildering array of characters, and trying to sort them out in the first part of the movie turned out to be a real chore, and a rather tiresome one. Throw in a singularly unfunny comic relief character, and things just get worse. Still, once the plot gets moving again and they start thinning out the cast with a series of murders, things pick up considerably. [...]"
Over at imdb, Joseph Gillis of Dublin, Ireland, is of the opinion that the movie is confusing but worth sticking with: "This one is closer to the straight drama of the British Edgar Wallace series, despite the presence of the ubiquitous Eddi Arent, whose presence serves to lighten the tone; on this occasion he's the assistant to the investigating police officer, and displays an unexpected talent for wrestling. It features so many characters and subplots — swindlers and forgers, gold-diggers and blackmailers; to name just four — that it's quite easy to get lost in the plot, or sub-plots, but as long as you concentrate on the main plot thread — that treasure is buried in the grounds of Lord Chelford's estate; that it is being protected by a mysterious 'Black Abbott' figure; and that literally everybody wants to get their hands on it — you can settle back and let the proceedings unfold. It helps, also, that the investigating officer seems to have an uncanny knack of getting to the heart of the matter — without seemingly doing much investigating — and thus does all the figuring out for you. [...] The film has a number of good nocturnal chase scenes, excitingly filmed. It also boasts a wonderfully kitschy soundtrack [by the great Martin Böttcher]."
Excerpt of Title Track to Der schwarze Abt
by Martin Böttcher:





Zimmer 13
(1964, dir. Harald Reinl)
Based on the Wallace book entitled — Surr-prize!Room 13, which had already been adapted for the cinema in 1937 as Mr Reeder in Room 13, directed by the mostly forgotten Norman Lee (10 Oct 1898 — 2 June 1964); Mr. Reeder, by the way, who does not appear in the German version of the tale, is a regular mystery-solving character of Wallace's who appears in a number of Wallace books and short stories. As for director Norman Lee, among his other movies of note is the first film adaptation of The Door with Seven Locks (1940), which was adapted as a Railto Wallace movie (without Fuchsberger) in 1962 (German trailer).
Groovy fan-made trailer to
Norman Lee's The Door with Seven Locks (1940):
 
Zimmer 13 is Reinl's and Karin Dor's fourth Wallace film (though not together), Siegfried Schürenberg's fifth, Eddi Arent's fourteenth and Joachim Fuchsberger's eighth — and Peter Thomas, the only musician to make better films scores than Martin Böttcher, is there for the seventh time. Like Der Frosch mit der Maske (1959) and Der rote Kreis (1960), all exterior shots were done in Denmark, the last time for a Wallace movie. (Isn't the Copenhagen train station fantastic? You should see it in real life.)
German Trailer to
Zimmer 13:
Oddly enough, Zimmer 13 was one of the financially less-successful Wallace movies when it was released — but probably not due to the movie itself: set the red light milieu, it was the first of the series to be released with an "As of 18" rating (unbelievable by today's standards), and thus it had to do without a substantial portion of the series' regular audience. One of the reasons it got an 18-rating were split seconds of nudity during strip scenes at the club like that pictured here below... the exotic dancer here is promptly killed a few minutes later, her throat slit by a straight razor.
To loosely translate the plot description as given at and by Rialto Film: "Sir Robert Marney (Walter Rilla), member of the British House of Commons, receives an unpleasant visit at his country estate. Twenty years previously, he had helped a criminal (Richard Häussler) to escape abroad after a bank robbery. Due to his current position, Sir Marney dares not call the police, and thus he is completely at the mercy of a vicious criminal, especially since the villain threatens to harm Sir Marney's young, beautiful daughter (Karin Dor) should Sir Marney not blindly obey him. Soon, Sir Marney is summoned to Room 13 at an ominous night club, where he finds several gangsters waiting for him. As they plan a robbery, a striptease dancer at the club is murdered in cold blood with a razor. In desperation, Sir Marney turns private detective Jonny Gray (Joachim Fuchsberger)..."
English Trailer to
Room 13:
The Lucid Nightmare says: "Zimmer 13, AKA Room 13, is a moody krimi film that spends a great deal of time relying on its gothic and crime infused themes, while unraveling out a caper filled with blackmail, kidnapping, and murder. The tone of the film is dark, emphasizing the seedy underbelly of this cinematic criminal world, and the filmmakers only sprinkle a few comedic pinches every now and then so as not to drown the audience in its overwhelmingly dire atmosphere. With its beautifully haunting black and white photography and its mystery laced narrative, Zimmer 13 is a krimi with exceptional quality."



Der Hexer
(1964, dir. Alfred Vohrer) 

German Trailer:
In the US, aka The Mysterious Magician, The Wizard and The Ringer. Video Cheese knows what makes for a good video experience: "Goofy fun with ornate action, sudden violence, broad comic relief, booby traps, secret panels, spies, double crosses, sword canes, killer priests, lots of — as the film calls them — pretty girls, and a hero who routinely gets himself beaten up. A very stylish effort. I especially liked the shot from 'inside' a phone, with the camera looking out at the guy placing a call through the rotary dial holes. (!!) I don't think I’ve ever seen that one before."
The "pretty girls" of the movie include the dead sister (Petra von der Linde), the secretary (Ann Savo), the girlfriend (Sophie Hardy, who got naked in her next Wallace movie, The Trygon Factor aka Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne [1966 / German trailer]), and the wife (Margot Trooger [2 June 1923 — 24 April 1994 of Rolf Olson's Das Rasthaus der grausamen Puppen aka The Devil's Girls aka Inn of the Gruesome Dolls (1967)]).
Title Track to
Das Rasthaus der grausamen Puppen:
Earlier versions of the movie include but are not limited to Arthur Maude's The Ringer (1928), Carl Lamac & Martin Fric's Der Hexer aka The Sorcerer (1932 / trailer, with a young Fritz Rasp [!]), Walter Forde's The Ringer (1932) and The Gaunt Stranger (1938), and Guy Hamilton's The Ringer (1952 / music), the last of which we looked at briefly in our R.I.P. Career Review of Herbert Lom.
Der Hexer, Alfred Vohrer's sixth Wallace movie, is noteworthy as being not only the only Wallace film, but also the only movie project in general, to feature the two good-guy stalwarts of the Rialto Wallace movies — Joachim Fuchsberger and Heinz Drache (9 Feb 1923 — 3 April 2002, of Nur tote Zeugen schweigen [1962], Sanders und das Schiff des Todes (1965) and much more) — together on the screen. (Unlike Fuchsberger, and not in this movie, Heinz Drache, who appeared in a total of 9 Wallace films, once broke mold to play the bad guy in Der Hund von Blackwood Castle [1968 / German trailer].)
Fuchsberger, unlike Drache, did not return the next year for the movie's less-satisfying sequel, Neues vom Hexer (1965 / trailer).
English Trailer:
To loosely translate the plot description as given at and by Rialto Film: "The 'Wanted' poster are out for Arthur Miller, aka 'Der Hexer' — for murder! Without mercy Arthur Miller exercises vigilante justice when he returns from exile in Australia to revenge the murder of his sister (Petra von der Linde). Inspector of Higgins (Joachim Fuchsberger) of Scotland Yard has a tricky case to solve, because 'Der Hexer' is a master of disguise who can change his face at will — he has hundreds of them! He conducts his terrible mischief everywhere and can't be caught. Questions upon questions arise as Scotland Yard confronts a nearly impossible task..."
To loosely translate the text at New Video: "A lot of tension, an involved story with many suspects, gloomy atmosphere and not too much slapstick: this is definitely one of the best German Edgar Wallace films, the title of which was ambiguously modified 40 years later [for Der Wixxer (2004 / trailer) and Neues vom Wixxer (2007), the latter of which we look at later]."
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, it seems, agrees: "Outside of a little horror atmosphere in this one, there's really not much in the way of fantastic content here. It is, however, one of the most entertaining of the krimis; it's easy to follow, has an interesting premise, and the humorous content is fairly good. The movie even has a bit of William Castle-like gimmick feel to it [...]. At any rate, this is a very good choice for anyone out there interested in trying out a krimi."



(1965, dir. Eberhard Itzenplitz)
German Trailer:
We don't think this one ever got an English language release, but had it had one, the title probably would've been something like: The Hotel of Dead Guests.
Director Dr. Eberhard Itzenplitz (8 Nov 1926 — 21 July 2012) directed mostly for television and theatre; Hotel der toten Gäste was his first cinema release and, well, it isn't exactly overwhelming. In fact, it's a snoozer — possibly the most boring krimi we have ever had the displeasure of viewing. The German website Remember It For Later would seem to agree, as they call the movie "90 minutes of boredom" and complain that "the director Itzenplitz can't breathe a spark of life [into the movie]. It's no wonder that Hotel der toten Gäste is only one of a total of three theatrical releases that he made, each at an interval of ten years. He was probably better suited for TV."
Elke Sommer sings this Song in the Movie:
Nevertheless, to loosely translate the plot description found at Film Reporter: "Barney Blair (Joachim Fuchsberger) is a talented and successful crime reporter. His skills are to his advantage when one of his informants is found dead in his office and he falls under suspicion of murder. The responsible officer at Scotland Yard suggests to him that he should prove his innocence by finding the real killer. Following that advice, Blair goes to San Remo in Italy to do some research. There, at the Schlager Festival, nobody suspects that a murderer is among the artists. Only after a second person is killed does Blair no longer have to search for the killer alone. Together with Inspector Forbesa (Hans Nielsen [30 Nov 1911 — 13 Oct 1965] of Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse [1963 / scene] and Das Ungeheuer von London City (1964 / trailer below)), he follows the clues leading to the killer."
German Trailer to
Das Ungeheuer von London City (1964):
 



Der letzte Mohikaner
(1965, dir. Harald Reinl)
German Trailer:
Joachim Fuchsberger plays Captain Bill Hayward in the first of his only two westerns and the last film he was ever to make together with director Harald Reinl. Karin Dor is of course along for the pony ride. Unlike the novel, this version of the tale includes a chest full of government gold, an exploding mountain, and a cavalry charge.
Der letzte Mohikaner, aka The Last Tomahawk, is a German-Italo version of James Fenimore Cooper's classic novel The Last of the Mohicans which, as few people know, is the 1826 sequel to the now less-famous Cooper novel The Pioneers (1823) and prequel to another less-famous Cooper novel The Prairie (1827). Whereas The Last of the Mohicans has been filmed dozens of times, both The Pioneers and The Prairie have only been film once each, both as B-films: the Tex Ritter vehicle The Pioneers (1941) and the Frank Wisbar Poverty Row drama The Prairie (1947).
Peter Thomas's Theme to
Der letzte Mohikaner:
Frank Wisbar, by the way, was a talented German filmmaker forced to flee from the Nazis 'cause his wife was not Aryan; once in the US, he was never able to get out of Poverty Row, something he only managed to sort of do again after 1957, when he returned to Germany. Among his more interesting films: "the last classic German Expressionist film" Ferrywoman Maria (1936 / first 20 minutes), Strangler of the Swamp (1946 / see below), the cheapie horror Devil Bat's Daughter (1946 / trailer) and, of course, Nasser Asphalt (1958), which rejuvenated his career in Germany.
Full Movie —
Frank Wisbar's Strangler of the Swamp (1946):
To loosely translate the plot given at the Film Reporter: "North America during the times of the American Indian Wars: the English and French are fighting for the colonial control of the new world and pull in Native Americans as allies. The Iroquoian Chief Magua (Ricardo Rodríguez) attacks the Mohicans [in some versions, the "Tomahawks"]. With the help of the whiteys, he destroys the entire tribe. Unkas (Daniel Martín of Demon Witch Child [1975 / full movie], Devil's Guests [1976 / fashion show], Crypt of the Living Dead [1973 / full movie] and Mystery on Monster Island [1981 / trailer]) is the only survivor of the dastardly attack. He swears revenge upon his Chingachgook (Mike Brendel). Magua continues his nasty deeds, and as return for the previous assistance of whitey Roger (Stelio Candelli), he helps Roger and his gang attack a money transporter. But the attack goes wrong and the soldiers escape with the money to a nearby farm where the British officer Munroe (Carl Lange of Die blaue Hand [1967 / trailer]) calls the shots. He's holding the fort with the last his soldiers, but his thoughts are with his daughters Cora (Karin Dor) and Alice Munroe (Marie-France). They are underway to him, a dangerous journey in that day and age. Magua pretends to be a messenger of Daddy Munroe so as to lure women and their companions into a trap..."
European Film Review says: "The Last Tomahawk derives more from the German school of Westerns than the Italian. It's similarities to the popular Winnetou series of films are worn with pride. There's a heroic Indian chieftain, a trusty paleface sidekick, loads of romance and a relatively melodramatic plotline to draw it all together. What there isn't are gurning extras [...], random acts of violence and that disorientating atmosphere that you find in the more southerly examples — well, the better ones anyway — of the genre. There are some good aspects. Harald Reinl directs well, much as is to be expected from this much-travelled veteran, and manages to create two especially powerful sequences: the aforementioned ambush and an impressive rockfall. The climactic fight isn't half-bad either, there's an unexpected conclusion and everything shoots along at pace (except for a slight lull in the middle). [...] On the whole, however, it's difficult to recommend Tomahawk with any enthusiasm. As a curiosity it does have some value, and it's entertaining in a Saturday-morning matinee way, but it simply isn't — oh dammit, let's be honest — isn't cruel enough to stand up to comparison with the likes of Killer Kid (1967 / trailer), Django the Bastard (1969 / German trailer) or Blood at Sundown (1965 / Italo trailer)."
Full Version — The First Film Version Ever of
The Last of the Mohicans (1920):* 
* Look for an un-credited Boris Karloff cast as a Native American.




Ich, Dr. Fu Man Chu
(1965, dir. Don Sharp)


Trailer:
Aka The Face of Fu Manchu, this English/German coproduction is, obviously enough, based on the evil Chinese villain created eons ago by Sax Rohmer (15 Feb 1883 — 1 June 1959), nee Arthur Henry Ward. The film was shot in Dublin, and despite what the German marketing indicated, the true hero of the movie (vs. the anti-hero of Fu Man Chu, played by the indomitable Christopher Lee) was not Joachim Fuchsberger's character Carl Jannsen but, as in the book, Nayland Smith, who is played here by the character actor Nigel Green (15 Oct 1924 — 15 May 1972, of Countess Dracula [1971 / trailer], The Skull [1965 / trailer], Gorgo [1961 / trailer], Corridors of Blood [1958 / trailer], Let's Kill Uncle [1966 / trailer], Jason and the Argonauts [1963 / trailer] and more, more more).
The first of five in a series of movies, The Face of Fu Manchu is the only one to feature Joachim Fuchsberger anywhere — or Karin Dor, who is there playing "Maria Muller". For that matter, only Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin (Lin Tang) and Howard Marion-Crawford (Dr. Petrie) appear in all five Fu Manchu movies.
Not from the Movie —
Tsai Chin (Lin Tang) sings The Ding Dong Song:
We took a quick look at the movie in our R.I.P. Career Review of Don Sharp, the director, where we wrote: "[...] When Harry Alan Towers joined the German production company Constantin Film to create a new franchise of thrillers ala the popular Dr Mabuse and Edgar Wallace films, Sharp was pulled in to direct the first of what ended up being five Fu Manchu films. (Sharp only directed this and the first follow up film, The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966 / trailer), but the headlining star Christopher Lee appeared as Fu Manchu in all the films; Fu Manchu is second only to Dracula as the film character he played most often.) For the West German version, the German actors — the ever-popular Joachim Fuchsberger and Karin Dor — received top-billing alongside Lee, though Fu Manchu's constant nemesis Nayland Smith was actually played by Nigel Green (The Masque of the Red Death [1964 / trailer]). The plot, as supplied by Jeremy Perkins at imdb: "Grisly strangulations in London alert Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard to the possibility that fiendish Fu Manchu may not after all be dead, even though Smith witnessed his execution. A killer spray made from Tibetan berries seems to be involved and clues keep leading back to the Thames."
It is perhaps worth noting that the great Jess Franco directed the last two films of the series, The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968 / trailer) and The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969 / trailer); the terrible critical and box office response to the final film torpedoed the 6th movie in planning.



Ich habe sie gut gekannt
(1965, dir. Antonio Pietrangeli)

Joachim Fuchsberger goes from trash film (The Face of Fu Manchu) to art film. Originally entitled Io la conoscevo bene, this movie reached the art houses in the US as I Knew Her Well. Italian director Antonio Pietrangeli (19 Jan 1919 — 12 July 1968) died while filming his next movie, Come, quando, perché aka How, When and with Whom, drowning in the sea of Gaeta in 1968; it was finished by Valerio Zurlini.
In 2008, Io la conoscevo bene was selected for the list of the 100 Italian films to be conserved ("100 film italiani da salvare"), a list aiming to catalog the "100 films that have changed the collective memory of the country between 1942 and 1978". The movie exists in two different official versions, the German version being about 17 minutes shorter. The 2013 DVD release contains both versions. Were it not for the continual presence of the lead character Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli of The Black Belly of the Tarantula [1971 / trailer] and Devil in the Brain [1972 / soundtrack]), the film could almost be considered an ensemble movie, as all the major European names who take part in the film — Mario Adorf, Franco Nero, Ugo Tognazzi and Fuchsbeger, among others — appear in episodes of Adriana's life.
From the Movie —
Sergio Endrigo sings Mani bucate:
Over at YouTube, the text written by drbagrov of Taiwan is used: "The theme of loneliness and alienation is not new in cinema, but Pietrangeli takes it from a different angle: his heroine, the naive countryside girl Adriana (Sandrelli), who dreams of a career as a star in Rome, is not an escapist or introvert; on the contrary, she tries her best to socialize and befriend people, but the results are most disappointing and frustrating — people just ignore her, use her, make fun of her, exploit her body and her good intentions. Nobody takes her seriously. Is it our cruel modern world's trademark? Seems to be true. INDIFFERENCE also kills. The magnificent cast [...], each of them playing very small episodes, give distinctive CHARACTERS, blood and flesh, to their protagonists, though their screen life lasts no more than five minutes each."
Movie Censorship continues: "Probably only a few enthusiasts know about the movie as it can still be considered an insider's tip. The movie consists of several episodes only tied loosely together. In those, the viewer gets a glimpse of the life of Adriana, a naive young girl from the countryside, which dreams of a film career in Rome. She falls in love with one man after another, although her encounters never go further than (at no point shown) sexual encounters. With its storyline set during the economic boom and in the time when the contraceptive pill became available, the movie can actually be seen as a bitter criticism of society. Egoistic men only caring about their own interests and a paralyzing monotony seem to be the defining aspects of the time and Adriana's desperate search for identity is becoming quite clear, even more so because she changes her hair style and clothes in almost every scene. Despite the light-hearted soundtrack and the depiction of people without a care in the world, a pessimistic atmosphere is being created — if you have the patience for the sometimes fast-paced, sometimes slowly progressing movie."
Joachim Fuchsberger Speaks Italian!


Part III to follow... next month.
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