Master Criminal Shelton (Otto Collin) is caught red handed by inspector Long
(Joachim Fuchsberger), doing a bank job that included a little bit of murder.
He is sentenced to be executed, but minutes before swinging from the gallows he
swears to kill everyone even remotely responsible for his capture &
execution, including the hangman (Josef Dahmen) ... & indeed, shortly after
Sheltons execution, tghose he has sworn his revenge on start to die like flies,
as if killed by a ghost.
Inspector Long, despite having opened Shelton's
coffin & found it empty, doesn't believe in the dead having come back to
life, & attributes the deaths to the Terrible People, & he
starts to make investigations among the Terrible Peolpe's future victims, which
include glamourous but arrogant Mrs Revelstoke (Elisabeth Flickenschildt),
animal lover & (secret) knife thrower Crawley (Dieter Eppler), & banker
Monkford (Karl-Georg Saebisch), who all just happen to gather for a golfing
weekend at Cravel's (Alf Marholm) hotel & golfing resort,where (would you
believe it) a bunch of other suspects turn up, including Cravel's wife Alice
(Karin Kernke) & Mrs Revelstoke's lawyer Henry (Ulrich Beiger) - plus the
not suspicious at all secretary of Mrs Revelstoke, Nora (Karin Dor) ... whom
everybody including Long would eventually fall in love with.
But wait, even
Long's own father, a banker, has thrown suspicion upon himself, as he at one
point paid a generous amount of money to Shelton so that he would not rob his
Soon Monkford is murdered, Miss Revelstoke has disappeared, lawyer
Henry has been mugged & Nora is kidnapped ... kidnapped by (would you
believe it) Crawley, who turns out to be ... not that evil after all, as he,
despite having the order to kill her, frees her ... but is soon kiled by the
Terrible People himself, & Nora is only just saved by Long.
Of course, it
isn't long before Nora is kidnapped again, & this time the kidnappers - who
turn out to be Cravel & Henry - lure him into Cravel's hotel & want to
throw him down an elevator shaft ... but ultimately fail of course. Plus Long
can overcome & unmask the person that posed as Shelton ... Mrs Revelstoke
In the end the mystery is explained to everyone: Crawley, Cravel &
Henry were all sons of Shelton (who has really died when he was executed),
& Mrs Revelstoke was their mother, & she was also briefly married to
Long's father (which is why Long's father could set up the weird insurace
policy with Shelton).
& why did they do it ? Revenge maybe, or just to
get to the money banker Monkford has inherited to Nora (for no specific
Eddi Arendt plays his usual comic relief as police photographer who
faints every time he sees a dead body.
One can't deny that Bande
des Schreckens is a well crafted thriller, director Reinl was usually able
to rise above his pulp scripts, but this film has a very stupid plot indeed,
with little in the sense of logical storytelling, instead relying totally on
surprise effects & on nonsensical plottwists, in the end pulling a killer
(or killers) out of the hat that might come off as a surprise, but at the same
time totally fail to convince on closer observation. The film might be
watchable on nostalgic merits, but it's not one of the better of its kind.