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Der Hund von Blackwood Castle

The Hound of Blackwood Castle
The Monster of Blackwood Castle / The Horror of Blackwood Castle

West Germany 1968
produced by
Horst Wendlandt, Erwin Gitt (executive) for Rialto
directed by Alfred Vohrer
starring Heinz Drache, Karin Baal, Horst Tappert, Siegfried Schürenberg, Agnes Windeck, Ilse Pagé, Mady Rahl, Uta Levka, Hans Söhnker, Otto Stern, Alexander Engel, Tilo von Berlepsch, Harry Wüstenhagen, Kurd Pieritz, Arthur Binder, Rainer Brandt, Kurt Waitzmann, Paul Berger
screenplay by Herbert Reinecker (as Alex Berg), based on a story by Edgar Wallace, music by Peter Thomas

Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany, Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jane (Karin Baal) has learned only from the newspapers that her father, the Captain (Otto Stern), has died and left her Blackwood Castle. To accept her inheritance, she travels to the place, but is met with disdain by the Captain's lawyer Jackson (Hans Söhnker) and caretaker Grimsby (Arthur Binder), with the latter going so far as to leaving a live snake in her bed. She however decides to sit it out.

Meanwhile at the nearby hotel owned by Lady Beverton (Agnes Windeck), the guests keep disappearing, they simply fail to come back from their walks - which calls the Yard into action, represented by no other than the Yard's chief Sir John (Siegfried Schürenberg) himself, travelling with his secretary Miss Finley (Ilse Pagé). Sir John, though not the smartest when it comes to investigating, soon enough has pinned down two suspects, Fairbanks (Horst Tappert), who's a bit too nervous for his own good, and Connery (Heinz Drache), who's a bit too slick to not be involved. However, Lady Beverton's guests continue to disappear, and eventually turn up dead, killed by poisonous dog bites, and it's found out that all the victims had served under the Captain on a ship where a priceless collection of jewels disappeared - after which the Captain was relieved of his command, but it could never be prove that he was behind the theft. And apparently, all the victims were his accomplices who have come to collect their share, but were killed by ... who exactly? The Captain would of course be the obvious choice, but he is dead in his coffin, as his crypt is frequently checked. Oh, Fairbanks is one of the Captain's men, and he grows more and more nervous, as it's either be arrested of killed by a poisonous dog, apparently. Connery on the other hand turns out to be an insurance agent after the jewels, and eventually he gets behind the secret: The Captain's actually alive and kept in a catatonic state via some infusions by the local doctor (Alexander Engel), who in turn is in league with Grimsby and Lord Beverton (Tilo von Berlepsch). But then the doctor and Lord Beverton want to turn on the Captain to keep the jewels as their own, while Connery joins forces with the Captain as he figures a share of the jewels trumps his income with the insurance company, and also Jane's mother (Mady Rahl) turns up and wants some of the wealth as well - but in the end, Sir John and even more so Miss Finley see to it that all of the involved get their just desserts.

 

Now the German Edgar Wallace adaptations were never known for their great writing, but this one surely takes the cake, as it's convoluted to the hilt and full of plotholes and leaps of reason, so much so that it at times seems to enter parody territory, and one really has to turn off one's brain for this to properly work - and even then there's plenty of weirdness, like why would one give the dogs poisonous teeth if they rip their victims apart anyway? And what's the strange relationship between Sir John and Miss Finley, with the former constantly groping the latter, and the latter not minding one bit? And why would Grimsby put a snake into Jane's bed only to save her minutes later? And what is that skeleton doing in front of her room door? But despite all this weirdness, I don't want to dismiss the film, as it only adds to the movie's (nostalgic) charm, and Alfred Vohrer's solid direction turns this into an old-fashioned yet atmospheric spooker. Not good in the original meaning of the word perhaps, but highly entertaining all the same.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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