A madman, a woman killer with amnesia (Klaus Kinski), has escaped from
the asylum, and his escape takes him to the reeds at the
Austrian-Hungarian border (at a time when Hungary was still behind the Iron
Curtain). There he is picked up by Austrian farmers who think he's a
Hungarian refugee, and Katrin (Brigitte Grothum), daughter of wealthy
farmer Vollbricht (Jochen Brockmann), gives him abode and work, just
because he claims his name is Martin, just like her husband who got lost
in the reeds years ago ... and eventually, Katrin even falls in love with
him - much to the dismay of Karl (Sieghardt Rupp), the farm's foreman who
alwas considered Katrin his future wife (though she had no intentions of
marrying him), and Katrin's dad who wanted Karl as his son-in-law ...
At the farm, Martin proves to be a good worker, and an able mechanic
too, and he soon has won the heart of Katrin's daughter Hanni (Christine
Ratej) ... but he can never shake the feeling of being a hunted man (which
he is), plus every time a woman gets on his nerves, he can't shake the
urge to strangle her, and it's rther by coincidence that he never succeeds
- but before long, he has to realize he is a sick man, and when Vollbricht
offers him money to leave the farm and the village for good, he gladly
accepts so as to not kill anyone close to him.
Martin tries his luck in Vienna, but there, he is overcome by the urge
to kill a woman ever more often, plus his photo as a wnted man starts to
be printed in all newspapers, so much so that everyone in the streets
starts to recognize him.
Somehow Martin gets back to the village and gets Hanni, the only person
he can really trust, to hide him - but Hanni is but a child, and soon her
mother has found out about him and about his past and he urges him to go
back to the asylum to be ultimately healed ... for which he almost kills
In the finale, he is chased into the reeds by the good townsfolks (who
of course by now all kn ow he's an escaped madman), who then set the reeds
on fire to agonizingly kill him ...
The last scene though has Martin readmitting himself to the asylum -
which might be nothing more than a compromise happy ending to please the
Der Rote Rausch is a cheaply made but tight little thriller with
a wonderful Klaus Kinski (in his first lead role) giving a strong
portrayal of a driven and ultimately mad man who nevertheless deserves our
sympathies. Sure, the film has its shortcomings, some of the dialogue is
incredibly stilted and some of the plottwists are too far-fetched and/or
simplistic for their own good, but all that is outbalanced by atmospheric
camerawork, wonderful scenery (the reeds) and (and I repeat myself here) a
wonderful performance by Klaus Kinski.