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Der Todesrächer von Soho

The Corpse Packs his Bags
El Muerto Hace las Maletas / The Avenger

West Germany/Spain 1972
produced by
Artur Brauner, Arturo Marcos, Karl Heinz Mannchen (executive) for CCC Filmkunst, Fénix Films
directed by Jess Franco
starring Horst Tappert, Fred Williams, Barbara Rütting, Elisa Montés, Luis Morris, Siegfried Schürenberg, Mara Laso, Eva Garden, Rainer Basedow, Ángel Menéndez, Wolfgang Kieling, Dan van Husen, Guillermo Méndez, Jess Franco, Andre Montchal, Beni Cardoso
screenplay by Artur Brauner (as Art Bernd), Jess Franco, based on the novel by Bryan Edgar Wallace, music by Rolf Kühn

Bryan Edgar Wallace-series

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A serial killer who throws his knives from a great distance to kill his victims is roaming the streets of London, and his trademark is to pack a bag for each of his victims before making his kill, in equal shares warning them and scaring the living daylights out of them. Inspector Ruppert Redford (Fred Williams) is entrusted with the case, but for the longest time it looks as if he's just wooing Helen (Elisa Montés), secretary of Dr Bladmore (Siegfried Schürenberg), who's been dragged into the case rather innocently. Meanwhile, Redford's best friend, crime novelist Charles Barton (Horst Tappert), seems to have more success in digging up clues, finding a trail to Celia's (Barbara Rütting) nightclub, where mescaldrine, a drug 5 times as potent as heroin, is trafficked - but unfortunately he can't help his friend Redford because he's addicted to the stuff himself ... but when Celia attempts to have him killed, he's out for revenge.

Eventually, Redford, who's only half as clueless as he appears to be, finds out the truth about Helen - she's actually the wife of an FBI agent who died tracking down the source of mescaldrine. After his death she wanted to continue his work, but her only clue was Dr Bladmore, so she started working for him ... and has found out only recently the good doctor really does have his hands in the production of the drug. But she also finds out that Barton is actually her husband ...

Here it gets complicated, as the doctor and company kidnap Helen to keep her from revealing more, but Barton raids the doctor's place to destroy his drug lab for good, then there's the knife thrower who kills the doctor before being killed by Redford, and ultimately, Redford also has to shoot Barton (who was an FBI agent destroying a drug lab, right?) - and then he gets the girl ...


Coming out at the tail end of German krimi cinema, The Corpse Packs his Bags is pretty much Jess Franco's homage to German cinema as such, from expressionist early days through to the Edgar Wallace-series of the 1960's, and it's done with quite some panache, as more than most filmakers Jess Franco knows how to create atmosphere by eccentric camera angles and using existing architecture to the fullest, and just knows about the movies he pays homage to. Plus, a certain ironic approach certainly doesn't hurt. That said, The Corpse Packs his Bags is still not one of his better movies, it suffers from a script that - even more than most krimi movies - fails to make sense, lacks actual narrative structure, plus neither of the two male leads (Williams and Tappert) succeed to rise above wooden status, and it lacks the delirious feel of many of the director's best.

Not a total trainwreck maybe - actually, there are some pretty solid sequences in here, which even those who're not into the director will have to admit -, but by no means a good movie, or even one of Franco's better ones.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD