Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dead Eyes of London

For those unfamiliar with the subgenre of crime films from the 60s known as “krimi”, they basically came about as a result of the German public absolutely falling in love with the crime novels of Edgar Wallace, and making a frankly absurd number of movies based on them. Dead Eyes of London may not be one of the most graphic of them (the most violent of them I have so far seen would be The Bloody Dead, which was first known as Creature With the Blue Hand before extra shots of violence were clumsily added into it to make it more appealing to American audiences), but it’s still got enough horror elements to make it qualify for this collection.

The film involves a conspiracy of blind criminals that are going around killing rich foreign businessmen whenever London is overrun by fog (if you’ve never been to London they try to trick you and claim that it happens around forty days a year; in real life this means they’d be offing someone about every couple hours). Despite a lack of hard evidence, Scotland Yard begins to investigate a local church shelter for the blind, and their connection to a murderous blind man named Blind Jack.

The film has the traditional flashiness of all the best krimis, and also like many of the best krimis, it also features a supporting role by Klaus Kinski, who shows up looking so crazy guilty that we want to believe that he’s really the killer, even though the actual killer was the first character we saw. Don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away by that; not only is he on the cover of the DVD, he kills someone in the first scene of the film, so it’s not really all that ambiguous. Still, though, that Kinski, just as villainous as they come.

If you’ve never seen a krimi before, this would be a good place to start. The German film industry literally cranked out dozens of the damn things in the sixties, so there’s a lot to choose from, though most are not yet available on DVD in the US. Fret not, though, for if enough of you start buying up the ones that already exist, the studios won’t be able to resist releasing the other hundred or so in pristeen editions. Get to it already.

Rating: ***

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