Monday, June 4, 2012

REVIEW: Der Hexer

Der Hexer
Director: Alfred Vohrer
Year 1964
Der Hexer is a deliciously entertaining Krimi film that features a mysterious criminal mastermind named The Hexer, who’s out for revenge. With a strange mixture of humor, horror, crime and mystery, the film makes for quite an interesting viewing. If you’re new to the genre of Krimi, like I was when introduced to this film, then give this one a go. Der Hexer is a blast in a half, with a cast that fills their rolls perfectly and enough red herrings to make any fan of murder mysteries stand up and cheer. Damn you Hexer!
The film begins with the murder of a young woman by the hands of a portly sex trade runner. Thinking that after disposing of the body, he would be in the clear, he disturbingly finds out that the woman he just murdered was the sister of the famed criminal, The Hexer. Known for his mysterious nature and feared by his cunningness, The Hexer flies to London to dish out his revenge. Hot on the heels of The Hexer is Scotland Yard, led by Inspector Higgins and the only man to have ever seen Hexer’s face, Inspector Warren. Can the two finally bring The Hexer to justice before he fulfills his diabolical plan for revenge, or is The Hexer too illusive for the two seasoned inspectors? Damn you again Hexer! You slippery shit!

Joachim Fuchsberger plays the role of Inspector Bryan Edgar Higgins, a charismatic and woman crazy Scotland Yard detective, who has been assigned to apprehend the erroneous and infamous man known as The Hexer. Joachim is an absolute hoot in this film, and it’s not surprising to come to find out that he seems to be the go to man when it comes to Krimi films. I’m glad that I decided to go with this film as my introduction to the genre, because both Der Hexer and Joachim Fuchsberger are outstandingly entertaining. Joachim gives it his all in this role and the balance that he was able to maintain throughout the film, between comedic and seriously toned moments is quite exceptional. I especially got a kick out of the comedy aspects of his character, like for example the fact that he must be chauffeured around by his girlfriend is beyond bizarre and absolutely hilarious. There’s also a great gag that has his girlfriend pop in to visit him at his office, right when he enthusiastically jumps out of the darkroom after developing a sexy photo of his secretary. These moments were unexpected for me, but ended up being a whole hell of a lot of fun. Joachim brought a charm and silliness to the role that I didn’t realize would be on the table when delving into my first Krimi.
Another great addition to this film is Siegfried Lowitz, who plays the role of Inspector Warren, the retired detective who is the only one to have seen the face of The Hexer. The character of Inspector Warren was another unexpected surprise for me, because his inclusion into the storyline brought another comedic aspect to the film. There is some great chemistry to be seen between Siegfried and Joachim, as they hunt down the infamous Hexer, and when they get together they just light up the screen with their antics. They play so well off each other that they had me wishing that these two paired up at least a few more times within the genre, but as of now I haven’t run across such a happening. I also don’t want to forget the inclusion of the character of James W. Wesby, who is played by Heinz Drache. Drache is another veteran of the Krimi genre and his ambiguous character of Mr. Wesby in this film is one that keeps the energy and flow of the movie speeding along and in entertaining fashion.

It seems that the Krimi genre has a great deal of parallels to the Eurospy genre, because there are some striking similarities that I have started to notice since running through a few of the entries on my Krimi quest. There always seems to be a lead hero, inspector type, character in these stories, which is true to any Eurospy entry, and the formula that they follow bares a striking resemblance to the super agent styled adventures that I’ve come to love. One of the best examples of these glaring similarities that I’ve noticed would be the inclusion of gorgeous woman that the lead character finds himself interacting with. Much like his spy brethren, the inspector charms the girls while taking on the bad guys, which in retrospect is the main pull of most Eurospy films. I’m happy to report that Der Hexer embraces this concept fully and with some striking beauties to boot.
Sophie Hardy plays the role of Elise, Inspector Higgins beautiful girlfriend and frequent chauffer and as with most Eurospy babes, Elise finds herself in a heap of trouble that only Higgins can get her out of. She’s often put in unusual circumstances that place her in harms way in order to progress the story along and make for some frighteningly tense situations. Sophie does an amazing job with both the thrilling oriented moments and the comedic aspects of the production, and her screen presence is exceptionally sound. Another one of Higgins’ girls would be his knockout secretary Jean, played by Anneli Sauli, whose also included in some of the more comedic portions of the film, for example the sexy photograph that gets Higgins in trouble. I have to say that the most impressive and unexpected thing that I came away with in this film, would have to be the fact that it was so much damn fun. I went in expecting to see an atmospheric noir styled thriller, which it was also, but came out seeing that the Krimi genre is more than meets the eye and extremely deeper than I first gave it credit for. I’m looking forward to trudging through this genre in search of more hidden gems like this one. Der Hexer was a delight from start to finish.

Der Hexer is a wonderful Krimi entry that did an amazing job in boosting my anticipation in finding some more genre greats as my quest continues. The film had a foggy mysterious quality to it that can only be described as Noir meets Horror, and the inclusion of the comedy elements works wonderfully against this strange concoction of cinematic cornerstones. To be expecting one thing and then getting it, plus a whole extra bag of goodies, is something I didn’t anticipate when preparing myself for my Krimi introduction. I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised.
With a cast that shines on the screen at every turn and a narrative that has just as many twists, you really can’t go wrong with this entry in the genre. After being so enthralled with the world of Eurospy, I’m relieved to know that the Krimi films have a strange resemblance the genre that I’ve come to know and love, and I’m hoping to have as equal of an affinity for these movies as I do with those wonderful spy adventures. Edgar Wallace writes some damn entertaining crime novels and Alfred Vohrer can visualize it to no end, so if you’re looking for your gateway drug into the Krimi universe, give this film a go. Der Hexer is…..

What do you mean you can't deliver a Whopper?!?!

Get ready for your massage..... of DEATH!

What do you think of my cool shades?

Higgins gets a little too excited over his personal porn collection.

I'm looking right at your cleavage.

Damn you're fat.

The group was equally disgusted over how much weight Mr. Messer had gained. 

We think your hat looks silly.

Take off the damn hat weirdo or you'll be spitting out bullets for a week!

I see you, you little sneak.

I'm deciding on whether to give you a titty twister or not.

Red light.... Green light!

Hang in there Higgins!

Strip or I'll shoot.

What do you guys think of my big gun?

What are these two sneaks up to?

Enough with the foreplay. Lose the robe.

Sir.... you disgust me with your girth.

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