Tuesday, September 10, 2013

REVIEW: The Terrible People

The Terrible People
Director: Harald Reinl
Year 1960

The Terrible People, AKA Die Bande des Schreckens, is a wonderfully demented and highly atmospheric Krimi film which relishes in its ample twists and turns. Cast in the genre's stylistic black and white photography and bathed in morbid visual splendor, this extremely enjoyable murder mystery is every bit as entertaining as its fantastic cast. With a steady balance of horror archetypes and comedic shenanigans, The Terrible People is an Edgar Wallace adaption that is sure to thrill.

The film begins with the capture and execution of master criminal Clay Shelton. Before he is sentenced to death, he curses all that were involved with his capture, claiming the “Hand of the Gallows” will murder each one ending with Chief Inspector Long of Scotland Yard. As bodies begin piling up and the list of intended victims begins to lessen, Inspector Long searches through throngs of shady characters and scrupulous dealings in order to find out who is behind these mysterious murders, all the while trying to keep his new-found love interest, Nora Sanders, from harms way.

Joachim Fuchsberger takes on the role of Chief Inspector Long and he does a fabulous job in the featured role. Joachim is no stranger to those of you that are fans of the genre, for he pops up in a great number of Krimi films, often taking on the lead role and doing it with style. His charisma and screen presence is unquestionably captivating, and in The Terrible People, he's in top form. His quick wit and sarcastic demeanor fits perfectly with the whimsical, yet atmospheric proceedings, and you can tell that he is an actor made for the genre. As the central focal point of the film, and the character who leads us into the fray, you can find no one better than Fuchsberger. He takes the character of Inspector Long and just runs with it, making an already enjoyable film that much more entertaining.

The rest of the cast fills in rather nicely with Fritz Rasp playing the Inspector's rigid father Lord Godley Long, Dieter Eppler taking on the sneaky and opportunistic Mr. Crayley, Ulrich Beiger as the mustachioed cad Mr. Henry, and Elisabeth Flickenschildt as the mischievous heiress Mrs. Revelstoke. They all do an impressive job in pulling out every red hearing trick in the book, and each one gets ample time to chew up the scenery. The real standouts among the cast are Krimi regulars Karin Dor and Eddi Arent. Karin Dor takes on the role of Nora Sanders, Inspector Long's love interest, while Eddi Arent plays the bumbling and faint of heart crime scene photographer Antony Edwards. Karin looks absolutely spectacular in her innocent portrayal of Ms. Sanders, while Arent does his usual comedic shtick to perfection. All in all, the cast is a wonderfully diverse group of characters that make this Krimi world come to stark life.

As for the story of The Terrible People, it is one that is filled with just the right amount of twists and turns, making you second guess every character that comes into frame. The set up of Clay Shelton's ghost murdering the people responsible for his capture and death is expertly executed, and the horror infused elements that this premise brings to life is a real treat to see play out. Those handful of moments where Shelton's figure is spotted at the scene of the crime are rather haunting, and they do marvels for ratcheting up the mystery of the story.

The atmosphere of the film is equally palpable, providing a slew of outstanding locations and sets to allow all the morbid sequences to pan out. From swanky country clubs, to fog covered woods, to tranquil rivers, and the stereotypical interiors of lavish mansions, the film has an overabundance of locales that always serve the story well. Not only are these locations distinct in tone and presence, but they are shot in the most exquisite and picturesque of ways. The black and white photography is outstandingly vivid, making for a perfect mixture of foreboding horror and unabashed beauty. Combine that with the intricate plot of multiple murders by the hand of a phantom specter and you have yourself one hell of a good time.

The Terrible People, AKA Die Bande des Schreckens, is a perfect example of the quality of films you can find in the Krimi genre. Its perfect display of balancing the horror and comedic elements of the narrative is a testament to the genre as a whole. This is also prevalent in the movie's visual aspects, as there is an abundance of charm to be had in all the eye candy within the picture. With the film's beautiful cinematography and fabulous black and white photography, the movie is a classic presentation that allows the style to gel with the substance.

Adding to the already impressive aspects of the production, the cast gives an outstanding ensemble performance allowing the paranoia of the narrative to grab hold and never let go. Though infused with a tongue and cheek attitude, the movie and its characters still manage to emphasize the mystery surrounding the film, and it is a balancing act that I've only really seen accomplished within the Krimi genre. Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, and Eddi Arent seem bred for the proceedings, giving tremendous turns as our central figures. Joachim especially brings a charismatic approach to his Inspector Long character, which can attribute to the film's infectious appeal and lasting impression. If you're new to the genre or are looking to expand your Krimi knowledge, then I highly recommend checking this entry out. The Terrible People is.....

There's something fishy about this guy.

Are you gonna bark tree, or am I going to have to pump you full of lead?

Now that's an interesting way to take a photo.

I hate classically painted portraits...... There's one right behind me isn't there?

Hello there!

Just hold it right there you sexy beast!

God damn I'm one sexy motherfucker!

The name's Long.... Inspector Long.

I'm sorry, is my mustache disrupting your meal?

Look at my mustache..... Look at it!

Murder Mystery Staring Contest.... GO!

Let's see if we can't get that booger out.

Ahoy there!

Mr. Crayley... You dirty traitor you.

Eddi! Say it Arent so!

Check out my bling bitches.

Surprise! It's a gun-phone!

Hey you! Pull my finger!

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