Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Neues vom Hexer aka Again the Ringer (1965): Alfred Vohrer's sequel to his own Der Hexer is a decidedly middling part of the Rialto Wallace adaptation cycle. It features a few of Vohrer's trademark sight gags and moments of fourth wall demolition, a fun bad guy henchman turn by Klaus Kinski, and Drache, Rütting, Schürenberg and Arent in their usual roles, as well as a slightly insane soundtrack by Peter Thomas, but the film never feels as fun as it should do. For my tastes there's just a bit too much normal mystery tedium and too little of the pulp thrills I've come to expect from the Wallace films, leading to a film that is too well done to be completely unsatisfying yet too often trades in the anything goes feel of my favourite Vohrer movies for standard German mystery fare. For once, the German movie going public must have agreed with me, for the sequel Again the Ringer (and wasn't he called the Wizard in the English language version of the first movie?) sets up in its final scene never was made for lack of success.

One Point O aka Paranoia: 1.0 (2004): This is a pretty fantastic little (as in: obviously low budget yet just as obviously knowing how to cope) SF film in the classical mindfuck style that heavily echoes Dick in its un-real circling around questions of reality, identity and ownership of said identity. Directors/writers Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson update the whole thing with a bit of nanotech-virus SF-science, but mostly, they let their design sense (seldom has a brown apartment building in a sideways future seemed more appropriate) and the peculiar rhythm of their film drag the viewer into an emotional place where the Weird and the surreal collide. There's also some fine acting (and fine acting's a difficult thing in a film going for the Weird this intensely) by Jeremy Sisto and Deborah Kara Unger - both no strangers to strangeness on screen - and smallish appearances by the great Udo Kier and the great Lance Henriksen to praise.

The Soul of a Monster (1944): Well, it sure is nice to see that Val Lewton's productions for RKO were regarded highly enough by executives in other studios to imitate them, like director Will Jason set out to do here for Columbia. Alas, as it goes with imitations, whoever was mainly responsible for The Soul did not actually understand how and why the Lewton productions worked so well, replacing ambiguity with cloying Christian moralizing and characters with flat clichés. While the photography is moody and beautiful, it's badly served by a script that doesn't really seem to know how to tell its story effectively, and direction that tries to take up all the outward appearances of the Lewton style without showing the necessary sense of timing and depth of meaning necessary to make that style work. I'd blame Jesus, but then the film makes it quite clear I'm not allowed to.


No comments: