Dead Eyes of London (1961) Poster

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Lots of coincidences
Mort-313 August 2001
After a long time, I saw a German Edgar Wallace film again and I was not surprised. Those films are about all the same. Klaus Kinski plays the dark guy, Eddi Arent the funny one and Joachim Fuchsberger the smart and handsome detective. The idea (blind men are forming a gang and kill wealthy old men in foggy nights) is extremely far-fetched this time but that's Edgar Wallace's fault and not that of the filmmakers. There are also too many coincidences to call it a crime story of great quality. Still, the film is well directed: in traditional black and white, thrilling and gruesome, but more serious than other films of the series like „The Indian Scarf` for instance.

The solution of the crime is good, less far-fetched than the rest of it. On the whole, this is one of the best Edgar Wallace films – and I've seen many, though it happened some time ago.
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My First Krimi
ferbs542 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As distinct a film genre as the American film noir of the 1940s and '50s and the Italian giallo of the 1970s, the German krimi pictures that flourished throughout the 1960s are almost exclusively based on the works of one remarkably prolific author: British novelist Edgar Wallace. The creator of around 175 (!) novels of mystery, crime and detection, Wallace and his gigantic oeuvre supplied the German film industry of the late '50s to the early '70s with a superabundance of material to draw on. Though a huge fan of noir and giallo, this viewer had never seen a krimi film until very recently, and the film in question, 1961's "Dead Eyes of London," would seem to be a nice introduction to the genre. Based on Wallace's 1924 novel "The Dark Eyes of London," the picture is supposedly a remake of a 1939 British filmization, but with what I can only imagine to be more modern and creative touches.

In the film, a serial killer(s) has taken to murdering wealthy old men and dumping their bodies in the Thames. The victims, all foreigners who had recently taken out life insurance policies, have ropes strangely tied around their legs, and some are found to have Braille messages on their persons. Inspector Holt of Scotland Yard (played by krimi regular Joachim Fuchsberger, who at this stage in his career resembled a young Tom Brokaw) suspects the criminal organization known as the Blind Men of London, and together with his assistant, the sweater-knitting fusspot Sgt. Harvey (Eddi Aren't), and a beautiful Braille expert (played by Karin Baal), he attempts to crack this case as the body count mounts....

As in the film noir, "Dead Eyes of London" features moody B&W photography (the film has been well lensed by DOP Karl Lob), seedy nightclubs, a femme fatale or two, and numerous assorted lowlife characters. As with the giallo, it also features some stunning murderous set pieces, a gloved killer, some gruesome and inventive homicides, and a plot that is complex and twisty...perhaps a bit too much so for its own good. Still, unlike many gialli that I have seen, the story line ultimately DOES make perfect sense, and indeed, the crimes and their motivations are actually fairly ingenious. Director Alfred Vohrer, who would go on to work on 14 krimi films altogether, does a very impressive job here, giving his film a dark, moody feel and adding several astonishing touches. Perhaps most memorable, of course, is the POV shot seemingly taken from within the mouth of a man using a water pick (how a motion picture camera was supposedly inserted, facing out from within a man's mouth, is a matter best left unexamined!), but almost as startling is that close-up shot of another krimi regular, Klaus Kinski, his mirrored shades a study in coolness, and the POV shot, taken from a dead man's perspective, of a crowd of onlookers staring down on him as he lays on a sidewalk. Staking its claim as a bona fide horror film, the picture boasts several scenes guaranteed to chill, including Blind Jack (played by Ady Berber, who here looks so hideously homely that he practically makes Tor Johnson seem handsome!) sneaking into a victim's dwelling place to perpetrate another murder; that gloved killer strangling a girl while a pet parrot squawks hysterically; a particularly well-executed homicide in an elevator shaft; and an imprisonment in a rat-infested, burning cellar. The picture offers welcome bits of painless humor from the Sgt. Harvey character, as well as pieces of inventive freakout music from composer Heinz Funk (love that name!). The resolution of the film's mysteries is a surprising one (at least, I didn't see it coming), and the action climax is one worthy of a "Perils of Pauline" serial. All told, a highly satisfying affair; to see this film is to want to see many more in the krimi genre. Hopefully, "Dead Eyes of London" is just the first of many for this viewer....
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Not at all subtle but I appreciate how different and exciting it was compared to other thrillers and horror films of the day.
MartinHafer18 August 2011
"Dead Eyes of London" has some seriously creepy scenes. There's a chute that disposes bodies in river, two close-ups of dead people's faces and a guy falling to his death after a killer stomps on his hands that are holding on for dear life! This is NOT a typical Hollywood film as the American films of this era were a lot less visceral and violent--and the Germans made a scary one.

The film involves several killings that are somehow connected to a freaky reverend--a blind one who ministers to a flock of blind men. You aren't sure exactly how he and his ministry is involved through most of the film--but some of the baddies are hiding out in his home for blind men. One is the beastly looking killer who manages to look a lot like Tor Johnson--but a lot uglier! There also is a part by Klaus Kinski--who looks goggle-eyed and crazy throughout the movie. I could say more about the film, but it would spoil the suspense of this horror thriller.

Overall, while not a brilliant film (there are a few lulls here and there), it is very difficult not to be pulled into the film--mostly because it's so very brutal. Subtle it ain't--but it is exciting and very, very different.
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Better than average
evilskip12 September 2000
In 1939 Bela Lugosi starred in Dark Eyes Of London.This is the West German version filmed in 1961.

Wealthy men are being murdered all over London.All indications point to an insurance scam and a home for the blind.But how can blind men be the killers of London?

The pace is frantic and you'll be guessing right up to the end.Only drawback is the villains lust for the heroine which is kind of goofy.

All in all a cut above the average Edgar Wallace thriller.
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DEAD EYES OF London (Alfred Vohrer, 1961) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI21 May 2007
This remake of DARK EYES OF London (1940), from an Edgar Wallace novel, joins the mere handful of Krimis that I've watched over the years; as far as I can recall, these extend to just 3 DR. MABUSE entries and CIRCUS OF FEAR (1966). I know many are ardent fans of this type of film but, personally, I don't think they have the same rewatchability value as the contemporaneous Italian gialli.

The film is marked by directorial stylistics – arresting shock cuts, inventive transition between scenes (including the iris effect), etc. – and an avant-gardist score. It goes on too long, however, by having an inordinately convoluted plot that involves numerous characters; the original – a British B-movie – was, by necessity, far more compact and, consequently, more direct and effective. Still, the basic thriller elements remain undeniably engaging and the noir-ish atmosphere is thickly laid on (though undermined by the dupey, splicey print on the Retromedia DVD) – making the film quite enjoyable if, ultimately, nothing special.

The cast is O.K.: likable middle-aged lead, attractive female roles, slightly overstated comic-relief sidekick; Bela Lugosi's role in the original is split into two here; the blind killer – played by a Tor Johnson look-alike former wrestler – is, again, depicted as a hairy grotesque; and it also features a young but typically intense Klaus Kinski in a supporting role.
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The Best of the German "Edgar Wallace" Series
JohnHowardReid25 August 2008
This is my favorite of the German-made Edgar Wallaces. Brilliantly directed by Alfred Vohrer, atmospherically photographed and luxuriously produced, it imaginatively maintains atmosphere and suspense right from its dramatically eerie opening to the shattering surprise finale. (In an article on Edgar Wallace in Films In Review, Jack Edmund Nolan maintains that the plot, characters and background are closer to Wallace's conception than the 1940 British version of the novel, starring Bela Lugosi).

It's hard to judge the quality of the acting from the dubbed edition, but the players do seem to acquit themselves well.

And for once the dubbed version runs longer than that released in the home country!
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One hell of a weird cop thriller.
DigitalRevenantX75 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A number of rich foreign businessmen living in London are being killed, their bodies tossed into the Thames & made to look like drownings. Scotland Yard inspector Larry Holt & his always cheerful colleague Sgt. Harvey are on the case. They find pieces of paper on each of the victims, written in Braille as well as a piece of rope on the feet on the victims. They bring in Nora Ward, an expert in Braille, who tells them that the deaths are the result of foul play & that the paper notes reveal that the killer is blind. Investigation also reveals that the victims had large insurance policies on themselves. Whilst investigating the insurance broker, Holt discovers a conspiracy by an unknown party to swindle the insurance money for gambling debts & that Nora Ward is actually the illegitimate daughter of one of the victims, as well as the sole beneficiary of the dead man's policy. At the same time, the mastermind behind the killings is competing with some of his underlings in a deadly game to collect the money.

One of a number of German B-grade crime thrillers based on the works of Edgar Wallace that came about in the early 1960s, Dead Eyes of London is a pretty routine thriller as far as thrillers go. But what makes this quite interesting is the weird story that serves as the film's plot, as well as some inventive deaths & a modest atmosphere. In case you don't guess so from the English language version, the film is a German production with German actors (including Klaus Kinski) & dubbed into English, although the dubbing isn't obvious at first glance.

Director Alfred Vohrer manages to make a passable detective yarn out of the convoluted storyline & despite the dragging pace, actually makes for an interesting watch. Some of the killings – everything from drownings in laundry vats (& the bodies tied to salt rocks that dissolve after a while to release the bodies & make them look like accidental deaths), hit-&-runs, gunshots to the face, a janitor getting shot in the eye while looking in a peephole, people thrown out the window & a priest wielding a flamethrower – are quite full-on for 1961 standards. Not just that, but there has to be something said for a film where the likes of Klaus Kinski (himself a very weird actor) is not the weirdest person in the cast. From a detective who knits clothes for the Salvation Army & who is always cheerful, even in dire circumstances, to the pudgy fat killer who resembles Tor Johnson in some aspects, Dead Eyes of London is chock-full of strangeness that will make this a reasonable night in.
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Interesting characters, but not a great story
Thomas18 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Die toten Augen von London" is a German movie from 55 years ago and another Edgar Wallace adaptation by Egon Eis. The director is Alfred Vohrer, one of the most known German filmmakers from that time, mostly because of his involvement with the famous Karl May westerns. The title already says it: This film is once again set in London and it is a black-and-white film that takes us into the world of a crime syndicate apparently made up of blind people. A couple people get murdered as usual and (also as usual) Joachim "Blacky" Fuchsberger plays the police detective in charge of finding the killer(s). I personally thought this movie here had a couple really interesting characters, mostly the villain, even if some were more evil than others. One of them is played by Klaus Kinski in a fairly early career turn. He is in his early 30s here and the talent is very much visible. But sadly, the writing and the story as a whole is not on par with the characters and the performances. I was never really interested in who the bad (baddest) guy is and it never felt like an edge-of-seat film for me. Plus there are some (un)intentionally funny moments that do not help the film at all, for example near the end when one of the detectives finally understands who the bad guy must be he makes the most embarrassing sound and really has to apologize afterward to the audience for it. Another fairly forgettable Wallace adaptation. Not recommended. This is one of the longest Edgar Wallace films, clearly makes it past the 90-minute mark and as a consequence it drags on several occasions. The only scene I liked was the tape recorder with the voice and the attempt to assassinate the cop with the gun in the box.
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Creepy and foreboding, but unfortunately rather boring
The_Void26 March 2008
The Dead Eyes of London is a film version of a novel by Edgar Wallace and is a part of the "Krimi" series of films; the German answer to the Italian Giallo, all based on books by the aforementioned writer. This novel was actually made into a film several years earlier in 1940 and starring the great Bela Lugosi; having not seen the earlier version, however, I can't say whether or not this version is better. Despite being a big Giallo fan, this is actually the first Krimi film I've seen - and while there were some things I liked about it, I have to say that I am hoping that this is not a great example of the genre as it's not all that good! As the title suggests; the film is set in London and, naturally, focuses on a series of murders and we begin with the murder of a wealthy man. Scotland Yard starts to investigate and the clue soon point to either the killer being blind or having something to do with the blind community. The police dig deeper, while the murders continue, and pretty soon the investigators are lead to a blind institute...

This film has two main problems; the plot is largely implausible and the way it plays out is rather boring. The first one of these problems is the lesser of the two; being a fan of Giallo means that I'm used to things not always making perfect sense and I don't mind a wild plot, providing it doesn't get overly silly and it's entertaining to watch. This leads me to the second problem; and that really is a big one. Director Alfred Vohrer (who apparently made a number of "Krimi" films) fails to generate much suspense and the plot is very drawn out and soon the film begins to grate on the viewer. The film seems to want to rely on its atmosphere and while the black and white cinematography does give it a creepy and foreboding feeling, which benefits the film immensely; it's really not enough to carry it all the way to it's conclusion without the film becoming boring. To the film's credit, the ending isn't bad; it provides a satisfying climax to the mystery and wraps things up in a way that is just about believable, but still it doesn't save the film completely. As mentioned, this is my first Krimi film and while I didn't like it much; I am looking forward to checking out more films from this genre.
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samhill52156 January 2010
Interesting film with some really thoughtful details and noirish elements. The camera work was especially arresting with liberal facial close-ups and scenery that reminded me of "The Third Man". The story is interesting enough to keep the viewer occupied although the dialog dubbed from German to English was quite distracting. It would have been better to release it with subtitles. Part of its appeal was the diversity of the characters and the fact that the outcome was truly unexpected. It kept me guessing all the way up to the end like all good thrillers. On the negative side it dragged at times and some of the scenes, especially some with the Inspector's sidekick, seemed to have been inserted as fillers. Overall though I was pleasantly surprised.
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