When movie audiences went to see the double bill of The Ghost and Dead Eyes of London in the mid-1960s, they were doubtless unaware that they were about to witness remarkable representations of Italian gothic horror and German "krimi" noir. Riccardo Freda, director of The Ghost (1963), frequently eschewed supernatural monsters to focus his grim stories on the fallible nature of man. This attention provided his films with an emotional depth lacking in many other gothics of the time. A tour-de-force performance by horror queen Barbara Steele, a well-executed intricate script, and striking scenes such as a vicious open-razor assault make The Ghost a perennial favorite in top-ten lists of classic euro-horrors.
Dead Eyes of London (1961) introduced a new director, Alfred Vohrer, to Rialto's krimi, or crime, films produced in West Germany during the Cold War and primarily based on the popular mysteries of Edgar Wallace (1875-1932). Vohrer directed almost half of the 32 Rialto Wallace films, making him the quintessential director of this successful and internationally influential series. His stylistic flourishes would clearly influence the thrillers of Dario Argento and others in years to come. Familiar krimi faces adopted familiar roles: Joachim Fuchsberger (the inspector), Eddie Arent (the comedy relief), Klaus Kinski (the slimy rat). But it is the Tor Johnson-like Ady Berber, as the henchman "Blind Jack," who steals the show. The Viennese-born former wrestler and restaurant owner is a delight here, a gruesome yet cuddly gigantor with a malicious yet winning Cheshire grin. Berber became a frequent presence in krimi noir, with appearances in two Dr. Mabuse films, further Wallace-based movies, and such non-Wallace krimis as Strangler of the Tower and Killer with a Silk Scarf.
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Studio: Image Ent.