Sunday, May 31, 2020

Jusqu'au déclin / The Decline (Canada, 2020)

Not too far into this movie, one of the characters remarks that "In order to live, you have to survive." Perhaps that is a reason we here at a wasted life have never been all that survivalist-minded — or, to use more contemporary vocabulary, prepper-oriented: as far as we can tell, too many people are already just surviving (but barely), and not living. The concept of suddenly having to work even harder to survive as our bodies rot away due to nuclear fallout, or everyone reverts to cannibalism due to a shortage of food, or we slowly puke our insides out due to flesh-rotting bacteria, or simply lose our glasses in a situation in which new ones are as impossible to attain as having toothache taken care of, getting a decent glass of wine, or treating an old-fashioned case of the clap or hemorrhoids, appeals to us about as much as having kids. (In other words: nada.) Life is meant to be lived, and surviving ain't living. And if you can't live, why survive? (Of course, we have the luxury of saying that from a continent where, amidst the current "corona crisis", if we want toilet paper and fresh eggs or vegetables or milk or coffee, we just have to walk three short blocks to the nearest store, where they give away free facemasks — unlike our sister who, living in "god's chosen country", can't get anything.* She's started her vegetable garden on her patio because she's frightened; we, on the other, have started planting stuff between our citrus trees because we've got the space and time and lockdown needs variety.)
* Now, since the day we wrote this review some weeks ago, she can get almost everything again, but the streets are burning. Oddly enough, her medical-necessity smoke gets delivered with a regularity that truly deserves the description of "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".
But, whatever. The Decline is a French Canadian movie about preppers, one which you can watch in English, if you don't mind too much that the lips onscreen don't always move correctly to words said. A thriller, it never truly ascends it Netfux TV roots and is often rather predictable, but for that it is well-shot and offers enough suspense to keep you interested.
The Decline opens with a family suddenly gathering their shit together and disappearing into the night, as if the film that should follow will be one of preppers in the decline of society. But the movie quickly pulls the rug out of that expectation, revealing instead that the family of three is merely conducting a dry run similar, you might say, to the fire drills we used to do in school and the shooter-on-campus drills school kids do now. The scene not only introduces us to the main white male character of identification, but also serves to point out something that should be obvious: all kinds of people are preppers, including young yuppie couples with kids — and single women who like canning, hot mixed-race chicks suffering guilt more than war-induced post-traumatic syndrome, overweight guys that probably mistake their real abilities for those of their avatars in their favorite computer game, over-strung jerks just one step away from snapping, and mildly overweight piano players. (Generically black people, less likely — possibly because they're too busy trying not to be accidentally killed by the local cops and/or stand-your-ground idiot[s].) Basically, anyone dominated by a fear of social/societal collapse, a fear that has been around probably as long as society has, is a viable prepper. In turn, being a prepper in itself doesn't make a person the bad guy — and, initially, no one in the movie is a "bad guy". Some are merely more likable than others.
And that is one of the strongest points of The Decline: it doesn't really point fingers — it is only after the shit hits the fan that anyone truly becomes "the bad guy(s)" or the "hero(es)". And even then, there are probably those out there that would even see the actions of the "bad guys" as justified, or at least of the actions of Alain (Réal Bossé). He merely wants to save that which is his, that which he has built up — and society is going to collapse, after all (eventually). That said, however, even if no one in this movie starts out as an obvious villain, the fact that the shit is bound to hit the fan hangs in the air like a Damocles sword from the moment Antione (Guillaume Laurin) parks his car amidst the snowy landscape and hands over his smartphone. And it is when the shit hits the fan that the chaff is separated from the wheat: there are those who still turn to the society they expect to collapse, and those who want to keep their off-the-grid safety for that unavoidable, if date-unknown, disaster they know is to come one day.
All that subsequently happens in The Decline after Antione arrives to Alain's survivalist training, possibly excluding the mid-film Psycho-inspired change of character focus, is predictable to say the least, but it is the very predictability of the train of events that keeps the movie so grounded in reality — excluding, we would argue, the unrealistic river scene that truly bonds Antione and Rachel (Marie-Evelyne Lessard), the latter the kind of totally hot and capable survivalist woman that any and all man or woman would want by their side when the world as we know it finally, truly, succumbs to a zombie virus.
Hardly a masterpiece, The Decline remains highly watchable, and as a feature-length film debut, it also indicates promise regarding the director, Patrice Laliberté. There are worse Netfux movies out there to watch on a corona-induced lockdown evening at home — like 6 Underground (2020), which we've chosen to forget we ever saw. (Tyler Perry's car wreck of a movie, A Fall from Grace [2020], on the other hand, is so unbelievably unprofessional and bad on every level that it achieves a transcendentally Ed Woodian intensity. That, in turn makes the movie immensely enjoyable, if you like your films as bad as we tend to.)

Monday, May 25, 2020

R.I.P.: Peter Thomas

1 Dec 1925 – 17 May 2020

Were we in Berlin, where we live, instead of on Mallorca, where we've been on lockdown since March, we might have heard sooner, but we only learned the other day from the blogspot Dwrayger Dungeon that the last of what we always thought of as the "Big Three"*, Peter Thomas, died last week. Relatively unknown in the USA, Peter Thomas "was a German composer and arranger with an active career of more than 50 years. He was known for his TV and film soundtracks such as Raumpatrouille, the Edgar Wallace movies film series, and the Jerry Cotton film series. [Wikipedia]" 
Indeed, his soundtrack to Raumpatrouille, like The Jerry Cotton March, are part of the communal kulturgut of contemporary Germany, musical compositions that are perhaps better known and recognized than even some of the greatest works of Beethoven, if not (definitely) those of other German composers like Mendelssohn, Schumann, Strauss or Telemann.
* We here of a wasted life is surely not alone in thinking that the trio of Martin Böttcher (17 June 1927 – 20 April 2019), Gert Wilden (15 April 1917 – 10 Sept 2015) and Peter Thomas, all of whom rose to prominence in the 60s scoring German movies, can be seen as the three masters of German film music of Germany's heyday of genre films, which we see as spanning from the start of the 60s to the early 70s.
What follows is an arbitrary selection of examples of Thomas compositions mostly in the order of how they came on YouTube when we searched his name +movie, beginning with his two best-known works. We don't include any of his non-film compositions or groovy space-age cum stereophonic or go-go cover versions. 
It is but a small selection of example: Peter Thomas composed for an excess of 170 movies and TV programs.

Raumpatrouille (1966):

Jerry Cotton March:

The Jerry Cotton franchise, starring American George Nader (19 Oct 1921 – 4 Feb 2002), a man perhaps best remembered for his first starring role in the classic 3-D disasterpiece Robot Monster (1953), spans eight films between 1965 and 1969. The first of the series was Schüsse Aus Dem Geigenkasten a.k.a. The Violin Case Murders (credit sequence).

(1966, dir. Paul May)

Title track to a three-part mini-series on German TV, a hit in 1966 and remade in 1974. Did the husband or didn't the husband kill his wife?

Verräter [Traitor]
(1967, dir. Michael Braun)

Title track to a three-part mini-series on German TV, a hit in the country in 1967. We know nothing about the mini-series, other than it is a spy "thriller" supposedly based on a Victor Canning (16 June 1911 – 21 Febr 1986) novel.

Das indische Tuch
(1963, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

A.k.a. The Indian Scarf. A great German Edgar Wallace krimi, for a change not about a purty girl and an inheritance — we reviewed it back in 2016. Hit the linked title to go to find out what we wrote…

Der unheimliche Mönch
(1965, dir. Harald Reinl)

A.k.a. The Sinister Monk. Another great B&W Edgar Wallace krimi, this time about a purty girl and an inheritance and a mysterious murderer dressed like a monk with whip knocking off people at a private school for girls.
Main theme to
Der unheimliche Mönch:

Der Mann mit dem Glasauge
(1969, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

A.k.a. The Man with the Glass Eye (trailer) — a later film in the German Edgar Wallace franchise, this pop-burlesque krimi, the 14th and last Wallace directed by Alfred Vohrer, has a lot of great things about it but a disastrous ending. The following is not the title track, but the track, Nora.
Nora from
The Man with the Glass Eye:

Chariots of the Gods?
(1970, dir. Dr. Harald Reinl)

"Documentary based on the book by Erich Von Daniken concerning the ancient mysteries of the world, such as the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, ancient cave drawings, the monuments of Easter Island, etc. and the fact that these things and modern civilization could have been influenced by extra-terrestrial visitations hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of years ago. [Humberto Amador at imdb]"
Also from imdb: "[The film] was banned in East Germany one day after its release" and "The director, Oscar-nominee Harald Reinl (8 July 1908 – 9 October 1986), was stabbed to death [on Tenerife] by his wife [Daniela Delis], a former actress."
Main theme from
Chariots of the Gods:

Die Tote aus der Themse
(1971, dir. Harald Philipp)

A.k.a. Angels of Terror, the last Rialto Edgar Wallace krimi to be shot in Germany before the franchise went giallo, and not one of the best. Great music, though, and Ingrid Steeger bares her magnificent pair.
Plot: "An Australian woman arrives in London to search for her sister who she finds is involved with a heroin smuggling gang. The gang itself is under attack from an unknown rival, who is methodically assassinating them with a shot to the head. [imdb]"
Music to
Die Tote aus der Themse:

(1966, writ. & dir. Will Tremper)

The decidedly non-grindhouse film got released in the U.S. as an exploitation film entitled That Woman.
Plot: "Highly paid, much-adored fashion model Alexandra Borowski (Eva Renzi, see Don Sharp's Taste of Excitement [1970]) wants a steady, traditional relationship with a strong, caring man, but she can't seem to find one while she bed-hops from creep to creep. She pauses with rich businessman Siegbert 'Bert' Lahner (Harald Leipnitz), a potential candidate for marital bliss, but he too proves incompatible, so she moves on to an uncertain future. [TV Guide]"
Title track to

Tang shan da xiong
(1972, writ. & dir. Wei Lo)
A.k.a. The Big Boss and, in Germany, Die Todesfaust des Cheng Li — the movie that made Bruce Lee a star, at least in Asia. His first big project after the end of the TV series The Green Hornet (1966-67) a full four years earlier, The Big Boss has had in total three different soundtracks at three different times. The second was by Peter Thomas.
Wikipedia says: "The Big Boss is unique in having not only two, but three completely different music scores. […] The first music score for it was composed by Wang Fu-ling […]. This was made for the original Mandarin language version, and was also used in the English export version, in addition to the theatrical French and Turkish versions. […] The second and most popular of the music scores was by German composer Peter Thomas. […] Thomas's involvement stems from a complete reworking of the English version of the film. The early version featured the British voice actors who worked on all Shaw Brothers films and used Wang Fu-ling's score. It was decided to make a new English version that would stand out from the other martial arts films. New actors were brought in to voice the film in English, and Thomas re-scored the film, abandoning Wang Fu-ling's music. The German dubbed version features his score, especially in the German title of the film […]."
Plot: "Cheng (Bruce Lee) is a city boy who moves with his cousins to work at an ice factory. He does this with a family promise never to get involved in any fight. However, when members of his family begin disappearing after meeting the management of the factory, the resulting mystery and pressures forces him to break that vow and take on the villainy of the Big Boss (Ying-Chieh Han). [Kenneth Chisholm @ imdb]"
Peter Thomas's music to
The Big Boss:

Der Letzte Mohikaner
(1965, dir. Harald Reinl)

A.k.a. The Last Tomahawk. A German version of James Fenimore Cooper's 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.
We took a look at this film in Part II of our RIP piece on Joachim "Blacky" Fuchsberger, where we wrote: "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. […]
"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...' […]"
The main title to
The Last Tomahawk:

Van de Velde: Die vollkommene Ehe
(1968, dir. Franz Josef Gottlieb)
A classic example of late-60s/early-70s German sexploitation, a.k.a. The Perfect Marriage, Ideal Marriage and Intimate Desires of Women. Director Gottlieb's oeuvre spans krimis like Die Schwarze Abt (1963) to sexploitation like this or the great comedy horror Lady Dracula (1977, see R.I.P. Walter Giller) to bottom-of-the-barrel trash like Die tollen Tanten schlagen zu (1971 / German trailer).
At imdb, the great purveyor of porn culture, lor, writes: "[…] [Theodoor Hendrik] van de Velde of the title was a Dutch author, who penned the marriage manual in question back in 1926. We're shown a series of dumb vignettes, amounting in content to the format of the Love American Style series of a couple years later, but German. A U.S. professor serves as our white-coat host. Perhaps the only odd element is a family taking their little kids to watch horses mating on a farm — they find this a natural process of maturation but I daresay it would still offend on American shores. Similarly, an eight-year-old girl bathing with her old daddy in the bathtub is another paean to 'natural behavior', but in an acted context like this one it is again suspect. Some of the actresses are quite attractive, especially a busty girl who's frustrated because hubby only wants to watch TV. Overall this is dull soft porn pretending to be educational. The crude diagrams showing male and female private parts (external and internal) hardly constitute hardcore content by any definition."
Van de Velde's book already inspired a film version as early as 1929, Eberhard Frowein's Marriage, the German poster for which, seen above, was created by the great Josef Fenneker (1895-1956). Early exploitation filmmaker Frowein went on to write the contentious Nazi pro-euthanasia film, Ich Klage an a.k.a. I Accuse (1941 / scene), as well as the anti-Jew novel, Am seidenen Faden, which got filmed in 1938 by Robert A. Stemmle.

Peter Thomas's Natascha from
The Perfect Marriage or maybe Every Night of the Week:
Followed by Van de Velde: Das Leben zu zweit — Sexualität in der Ehe (1969), also known as Every Night of the Week and likewise scored by Peter Thomas.
Per @ imdb: "The 2nd of 2 Franz Josef Gottlieb films supposedly based on the works of Dutch gynecologist Van de Velde. A precursor to the more popular Schoolgirl Report pseudo-documentaries, the Gottlieb 'Van de Velde' films tried to take a scientific approach to various sexual discoveries within relationships. Taking the documentary route would allow Gottlieb (and other director's of the time) to introduce more graphic and risqué subject matter that was normally not shown in Germany during this time period."
In other words: the films were German white-coaters.
Peter Thomas's The World's History from
The Perfect Marriage or maybe Every Night of the Week:

Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand
(1966, dir. Alfred Vohrer)
A.k.a. Winnetou and Old Firehand and Thunder at the Border. A classic film score that is also embedded deep in the kulturgut of contemporary Germany is Martin Böttcher's main theme to Winnetou a.k.a. Apache Gold (1963 / trailer), the second of twelve films if you count the last, Winnetous Rückkehr (1998), a TV movie.
Martin Böttcher's
The franchise lasted way too many films, but Peter Thomas only scored one, the tenth. (Böttcher scored them all but for this film and the third, Old Shatterhand a.k.a. Apaches' Last Battle [1964 / trailer], which was scored by the great Riz Ortolani.)
Plot: "Horse thieves unwisely attempt to steal mustangs from Winnetou's (Pierre Brice) Apache tribe. Four Indians are killed and Winnetou's sister, Nscho-tschi (Marie Versini) is wounded in the arm. Seeking justice, Winnetou, accompanied by an old friend, trapper and mountain man Jason Waade, better known as Old Firehand (Rod Cameron), ride to the nearby Mexican pueblo of Mira Monte along with Old Firehand's companions, cocky young gunfighter Tom (Todd Armstrong) and wily old coot Caleb (Vladimir Medar). There they learn that Billy (Walter Wilz), the gambler kid brother of the gang's leader, Silers (Harald Leipnitz […]), is being held on murder charges by Capt. Mendoza (Rik Battaglia), the leader of a patrol stationed there. Silers threatens to wipe out the entire village unless Billy is released. Meanwhile, Tom and Nscho-tschi fall in love, while Old Firehand, reunited with old lover Michèle Durell (Nadia Gray), discovers she bore him a son, 17-year-old Jason, known as Jace (Jörg Marquardt). […] [DVD Talk]"
Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand — A Symphony:

Im Banne des Unheimlichen
(1968, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

A.k.a. The Hand of Power. Fun film! Click the link to read what we had to say about it. Over in Part III of our R.I.P. Career Review of Joachim Fuchsberger we "loosely translate[d] the plot description as given at and by Rialto Film: 'At the funeral for Sir Oliver, the ghastly laughter of the dead man resounds from the coffin. Peggy Ward (Siv Mattson) — a reporter — writes about and continues investigating the incident. Then, those belonging to the immediate circle of the dead Sir Oliver begin dying mysterious deaths — indeed, Sir Oliver's brother, Sir Cecil (Wolfgang Kieling), believes that Sir Oliver's ghost is out to get him. But Inspector Higgins (Fuchsberger) does not believe in ghosts. Together with the reporter Peggy, he sets out to unravel the mystery of the laughing corpse.' […]"
The Space of Today from
Im Banne Des Unheimlichen:

Die Weibchen
(1970, dir. Zbynek Brynych)

This now obscure but once scandalous and movie, which one could easily argue as being anti-feminist propaganda disguised as a feminist film, has long been on our "To Watch" list.
While the official English title is The Females, a more on-the-mark translation of the title to this man-written — by Manfred Purzer — and man-directed — by Zbynek Brynych (12 June 1927 – 24 Aug 1995) —  prime slice of once topical (and "insanely hilarious" and "delirious") "horror fantasy" exploitation would probably be "The Little Broads" or "Little Chicks" or even "Little Women" — you get the general idea.* Outside of Germany, the title usually given was, if translated into English, Cannibal Women.
Trailer to
Die Weibchen:
* If not, then how about this slice of trivia supplied at imdb: "When Eve (Uschi Glas) first arrives at the health spa, the first woman to greet her on the grounds is carrying a German translation of Valerie Solanas' radical feminist SCUM Manifesto." (SCUM you may remember, is the Society for Cutting Up Men.)
Die Weibchen, oddly enough, is virtually unknown today — but available on DVD. A few dedicated men at Letterbxd have seen this "outrageous sleaze" about "a young woman [who] joins an exclusive women's health clinic only to discover it's run by feminist cannibals". There, Smellington writes "Well, it's no Female Chauvinists (1975, see Uschi Part VIII) […]. The Females (or more appropriately Femmine Carnivore) is pretty interesting (especially the camera work) but not very smart. Music is groovy but thrills are minimal, Overall, it's either very sexist or VERY feminist depending on your mood/viewpoint/sobriety (or maybe kinda pointless), but it's all a fucking dream anyhoo, anyway, whatever. But hey if you're writing a paper on Gaslighting, cannibalism, euro gender politics and the counter culture of the late 60s, and you're an asshole (heh) then I've got a movie for you."
Go go go to
Die Weibchen:

Das Verrätertor
(1964, dir. Freddy Francis)
A.k.a. Traitor's Gate. Yet another Edgar Wallace krimi, this time written by Jimmy Sangster, which is why we took a look at it in his R.I.P. Career Review, where we wrote: "Writing under the nom de plume 'John Sansom', Sangster supplied the script to this Edgar Wallace film, the 21st* of the series of 32 Rialto Wallace films produced by the German producer Horst Wendlandt, this time around as a coproduction with the English film company Londoner Summit. According to Florian Pauer in his book Die Edgar Wallace Filme (1982), 'Das Verrätertor is one of the most boring and least ambitious Wallace films of the entire Rialto series.' It is a sentiment shared by most contemporary write-ups of this relatively unknown Wallace film. The book upon which the film is based, The Traitor's Gate, was originally conceived as a stage musical; in fact, the first film version from 1930, entitled The Yellow Mask, was a musical.
The plot: The wealthy businessman Trayne (Albert Lieven) decides to steal the UK Crown Jewels, but fails to take either the clumsy tourist Hecto (Eddie Arendt) or his [own] duplicitous colleagues into account..."
* That number came from here, but other sources list it as the 18th. 
Aha! from
Das Verrätertor:

Der Hund von Blackwood Castle
(1968, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

A.k.a. The Monster of Blackwood Castle & The Horror of Blackwood Castle — yet another Wallace krimi, though this one feels closer to a kiddy horror movie. Fantastic Musings has the plot to what it calls "one of the krimis that actually does all […] things right": "Visitors to Blackwood Castle are killed by a mysterious hound. Could this have anything to do with the death of the owner… and the fact that a hidden fortune may be found there?"
Main theme to
Der Hund Von Blackwood Castle:
The film probably has less to do with an Edgar Wallace book than The Hound of Baskervilles, but it also has basically nothing to do with that book either.
"Now the German Edgar Wallace adaptations were never known for their great writing, but this one surely takes the cake, as it's convoluted to the hilt and full of plotholes and leaps of reason, so much so that it at times seems to enter parody territory, and one really has to turn off one's brain for this to properly work — and even then there's plenty of weirdness, like why would one give the dogs poisonous teeth if they rip their victims apart anyway? And what's the strange relationship between Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg) and Miss Finley (Ilse Pagé), with the former constantly groping the latter, and the latter not minding one bit?* And why would Grimsby put a snake into Jane's bed only to save her minutes later? And what is that skeleton doing in front of her room door? But despite all this weirdness, I don't want to dismiss the film, as it only adds to the movie's (nostalgic) charm, and Alfred Vohrer's solid direction turns this into an old-fashioned yet atmospheric spooker. Not good in the original meaning of the word perhaps, but highly entertaining all the same. [(Re)Search My Trash]"
* The Rialto Wallace films were made in another age, long before #MeToo, when old men bosses not only were allowed to molest and harass their willing secretaries, who liked it, but audiences also found it funny. The various Sirs of the Rialto films all were womanizers surrounded by willing female workers.
Bossa for Jane from
Der Hund Von Blackwood Castle:

Der Bucklige von Soho
(1966, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

A.k.a. The Hunchback of Soho. Not everyone always likes the wacky turn in the music of the Edgar Wallace films not, fot that matter, the turn towards the burlesque that began with this movie: "This was the first of the German Edgar Wallace movies of the sixties to be shot in color. To my mind, this stripped the series of one of its strengths; the black-and-white photography of the earlier movies gave them a serious, moody ambiance that is missing in this brightly lit movie. Furthermore, though it may be just the dubbing, I do really get the sense that the comic relief has inexplicably taken over the movie; it gives the impression that everyone is playing for laughs which aren't in the script. On top of that, the score sounds like someone hired an avant-garde jazz composer [Peter Thomas] to write a James Bond-style score with vocals by a black-belt karate expert practicing his kicks; it's disorientingly strange. [Fantastic Musings]"
As per Dwrayger at his dungeon, "The Hunchback of Soho has got it all!"
Title track to
 The Hunchback of Soho:
Lastly, the by now very familiar plot, from Dan Pavlides at All Movie: "Although The Hunchback of Soho is primarily a mystery, there are moments of levity, suspense, and horror that added to the tempo of the film. An American girl in London is kidnapped when she arrives to claim a sizeable inheritance, and a home for wayward girls is the scene of several unsolved murders, prompting Scotland Yard to send Inspector Hopkins (Guernther Stoll) to investigate."

Der Stoff Aus Dem Die Traume Sind
(1972, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

"Based on a bestseller spy novel by popular German author Johannes Mario Simmel, this 1972 movie is a boring mixture of a typical cold war political thriller and a greasy love story. It is far too long, and the direction can't decide which way to take. The tempo of the film is boring, the plot is too twisted and there are nearly no thrills at all, but dull dream sequences, stereotype love scenes, a maniac old woman talking religious stuff all the time and ridiculously produced special effects such as the explosion of a car which looks rather like a burnt plastic model. The actors also seem not very enthusiastic about their job. The only outstanding things about The Things Dreams Are Made Of are the weird, electronic-orchestral sound track by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra and an early performance by young Hannelore Elsner. Forget the rest! [Mike3001 at imdb]"
Theme to
 Der Stoff Aus Dem Die Traume Sind:

Engel, die ihre Flügel verbrennen
(1970, dir. Zbynek Brynych)

A.k.a. Angels Who Burn Their Wings and Angels with Burnt Wings. The second of three feature films directed by Brynych, all from 1970, for which Peter Thomas composed the music.
Plot of this "weird but entertaining flick", as presented at Letterbxd: "Munich at night: Robert Susmeit (Jan Koester), a 16-year-old teenager who is jealously obsessed with his mother Hilde (Nadja Tiller), traces her and her latest lover at a mundane apartment building where he kills the man in the heat of the moment at a swimming pool. His fatal outburst is secretly witnessed by Moni Dingeldey (Susanne Uhlen), a girl of the same age as his. Fascinated by the shaken and devastated strange boy who she hopes to be a soul-mate, she hides Robert in her mother's apartment. Meanwhile, a crowd of policemen and reporters frantically comb through the building in search a murderer whose identity is known only to Robert's parents who are searching as well…"
Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra —
Engel, die ihre Flügel verbrennen:
"[I]t's hard to watch a Brynych film without thinking […] Brynych escaped Czechoslovakia for the lurid sex films of West Germany […]. But one cannot fail to see a sort of puritan streak come out that feels slightly at odds with the film itself. The film wants to have its cake and eat it too at the same time and, try as they might, everyone can't help but feel just a little two dimensional at the best of times. […]. Whether this is something that's lost in translation or just a case of taking a devil-may-care attitude towards the scripts, I'm not sure but watching this film, I'm inclined to miss the 60s Czech Brynych. A film-maker with a compassionate touch lost in the murky depths of political history. [filterite @ imdb]"

Die weiße Spinne
(1963, dir. Harald Reinl)

A.k.a. The White Spider — we saw this imitation Edgar Wallace krimi long ago and would watch it again. Follow the link to read our verbose review.
We also took a quick look at it in Part II of our R.I.P. Career Review of Joachim "Blacky" Fuchsberger, where we wrote: "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. […] 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."
Title track to
Die Weiße Spinne:

Onkel Toms Hütte
(1965, dir. Géza von Radványi)

Better known as Uncle Tom's Cabin (German trailer). We took a look at this film in 2012 in our R.I.P. Career Review of Herbert Lom, and will be taking another look at it in a few months in our Babes of Yesteryear look at the films of Marilyn Joi.
We assume, but are unsure, that Al Adamson retained the full soundtrack when he shot new scenes and re-cut the film for his re-release of the movie in the seventies.

Cottonpicker's Leisure Time 
from Uncle Tom's Cabin:
But back in 2012, we wrote: "Among other fun projects by Hungarian director Géza von Radványi are his remake of Mädchen in Uniform (1958 / German trailer — set to the theme of Hawaii 5-0!!!) as well as three films he helped write, Walerian Borowczyk's Eurotrash Lulu (1980) — a remake of Pabst's classic silent film starring Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box (1929 / fabulous full film) — and the two trashy Euro-horrors Parapsycho, Spektrum der Angst (1975), which in classic exploitation film fashion features a real autopsy scene, and Naked Massacre (1976 / full film). His big budget version of Uncle Tom's Cabin may have been mostly sincere, but many years after its initial release it was briefly re-released in 1977 on the grindhouse circuit as Cassy. To quote Temple of Schlock, whence the poster way at the top comes, 'The G-rated movie was subsequently acquired by distributor Samuel Sherman, who hired Al Adamson [the director of Dracula Vs Frankenstein (1970)] to shoot new sex and violence scenes for an R-rated Mandingo-inspired re-release in 1977 under the title Uncle Tom's Cabin and later as White Trash Woman.' Herbert Lom plays the bad guy, Simon Legree. Needless to say, no matter which version of the film you see, they are all more salacious than the original book."
The Great Eartha Kitt singing
Mississippi Blues from Uncle Tom's Cabin:

Der Hexer
(1964, dir. Alfred Vohrer)

More Edgar Wallace! We took a look at this one in Part II of our career review of Joachim "Blacky" Fuchsberger, where we wrote a lot:
"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 a.k.a. Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne [1966 / German trailer]), and the wife (Margot Trooger [2 June 1923 — 24 April 1994]). Earlier versions of the movie include but are not limited to Arthur Maude's The Ringer (1928), Carl Lamac & Martin Fric's Der Hexer a.k.a. 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).
"To loosely translate the plot description as given at and by Rialto Film: 'The Wanted posters 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)]."
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.'"
Title track of
Der Hexer:

Flucht nach Berlin
(1961, writ. & dir. Will Tremper)
A.k.a. Escape to Berlin. Will Tremper's directorial debut; at the 1961 German Film Awards, Peter Thomas's music took the prize for Best Film Score.
Flucht nach Berlin is the German B-film as anti-Ost propaganda — but seeing that the Wall went up a year after this movie came out, it is not as if the East was anything to make a positive movie about. Oddly enough, anti-Ost movies of any budget were a rare thing in Germany at the time. We caught this suspenseful low budget jewel on late-night TV decades ago, and we would watch it again were they ever to broadcast it again. Not likely, as even in Germany B&W films have more or less been relegated to the closet.
The plot of this movie about "the German division and the flight from the East to the West, told in the lapidary style of Italian neorealism": "The East German farmer Hermann Güden (Narziß Sokatscheff) has enough of the state-arranged harassment of the SED superiors. He is no longer willing to submit to compulsory collectivization at home in his Saxon-Anhalt village, as this condition no longer offers him any prospects. And so he plans a long-run escape to the West. Güden initially sends his wife and child to the West of Berlin and wants to follow as soon as possible. But the SED apparatchiks get wind of the matter. In the heat of the moment Güden beat up the party comrade Baade (Christian Doermer) and then flees. [UCM.ONE]" Along the way he unintentionally gets a Swiss woman, Doris Lane (Susanne Korda), caught up in his dilemma, and as a result they must flee together…
Nightclub 61, music by Peter Thomas, was sung by Nina Westen, otherwise known as the German Schlager singer Ingrid Werner.
Nightclub 61 from 
Flucht nach Berlin:

Other movies of note for which he did the music include but are hardly limited to: The Gorilla of Soho / Der Gorilla von Soho (1968), The Trygon Factor / Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne (1966), Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel  — a.k.a. The Blood Demon / Castle of the Walking Dead / Pendulum / The Snake Pit and the Pendulum / The Snake Pit / The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism / The Torture Room (1967), The Strange Countess / Die seltsame Gräfin (1961), The Puzzle of the Red Orchid / Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee (1961), The Door with Seven Locks / Die Tür mit den sieben Schlössern (1962), The Squeaker / Der Zinker (1963), Room 13 / Zimmer 13 (1964)…

Extra —
The Best of Edgar Wallace, full album with compositions from
Peter Thomas & Martin Böttcher:

Extra —
Peter Scores. The Erotic World of the Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra:
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