In the Olden Tymes, Count Regula is drawn and quartered for killing twelve virgins in his dungeon torture chamber. Thirty-five years later, he comes back to seek revenge on the daughter of ... See full summary »
In 1947 England, a plastic surgeon must beat a hasty retreat to France when one of his patients has ghastly problems with her surgery. Once there, he operates on a circus owner's daughter, ... See full summary »
The Theatre of Death in Paris specialises in horror presentations. A police surgeon finds himself becoming involved in the place through his attraction to one of the performers. When ... See full summary »
A young coed (Nan Barlow) uses her winter vacation to research a paper on witchcraft in New England. Her professor recommends that she spend her time in a small village called Whitewood. He... See full summary »
John Llewellyn Moxey
Jason and Adam are brothers who specialize in jewel heists. Jason is betrayed by Adam, who steals his girlfriend, and has him beaten and left for dead. A female doctor nurses him back to health, and he sets about planning his revenge.
The only double the producers could find for Christopher Lee was the circus' real lion tamer, who Lee describes as being "half my height." In order to make the situation credible, 6'4" tall Christopher Lee was shot in close-up so the height differential would not be too obvious to the audience. According to Lee, he wore a black mask through nine-tenths of the movie anyway. See more »
When the police are chasing the van, the weather alternates between cloudy and rainy, and bright sunlight between shots. See more »
this movie proved to be a surprisingly effective spin on the then popular german genre of the "krimi": a series of films, often from edgar wallace source novels, which tend to defy the generic conventions of crime dramas by moving into horror, espionage, even sci-fi at times.
beginning with an energetically directed heist sequence, the film soon shifts gear and location, focussing on the machinations of circus folk, in particular the various affairs and double-dealings of a handful of seemingly innocent and not so innocent clowns, midgets, knife-throwers and lion tamers. the two stories are linked, but only about as much as the two stories in "psycho" are linked: one is there to purely to feed the other.
there are twists and turns galore in this film; perhaps a few too many to be entirely plausible. some of the dialogue scenes are a little stilted, too. however, john moxey's direction tends to keep things going quite well, with some surprisingly sophisticated and kinetic direction. (note, for example, the way the loop of gregor's whip hovers around mr big's head to symbolise his attempts to psychologically ensnare his blackmailer.)
performances are generally quite solid, including from the imported german cast (there presumably to keep west german krimi fans happy), and there are definitely a couple of standouts. klaus kinski is unintelligible a usual, especially as he's forever got a cigarette in his mouth, but his presence lifts the film quite a bit. christopher lee is the only crashing disappointment, as he doesn't appear until act two, he's in a mask for most of the film, and his russian accent wavers a little. he really has no definitive presence here, and it's not particularly his story. i'd also have recast a lot of the police officers for a modern audience, as although they're quite old-fashioned (think dixon of dock green or pc 49), their dialogue would suit the stars of "the sweeney" with little adjustment. but then, in a microcosm of the characteristically unusual, perhaps a little grounding in sanity isn't so bad!
overall, this was a surprisingly effective film. i've only seen the restored 91-minute version that's available on dvd, so perhaps a slightly shorter version with some of the duller dialogue scenes cut down would hold the attention a bit better. (can't be as bad as the p;d 65-minute version, though, even if the film does hold up okay in b&w.) but this is definitely a film worth seeing, especially if you want a decent introduction to the world of the krimi. just don't see it if you want a big christopher lee vehicle -- he had more presence in "dracula", and he was only in six minutes of that!
21 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?