Then the spirit of Jack the Ripper seems to be very much alive in 1960s London as a series of brutal slayings by the Monster of London City has Scotland Yard baffled. In a macabre ...
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Then the spirit of Jack the Ripper seems to be very much alive in 1960s London as a series of brutal slayings by the Monster of London City has Scotland Yard baffled. In a macabre coincidence, a new play about the famous murderer is about to become a major West End hit... and the leading man is rapidly becoming the prime suspect! Written by
I have seen most, but not all, of the German Edgar Wallace thrillers of the 60s. They do vary in quality, but when "on target" the filmmakers behind this peculiar franchise had a wonderful thing going. At their best these "krimis" (German equivalent of the Italian giallo) possess a unique flavor and style. They are dark and atmospheric, most activity seems to take place at night (or at least it should). Great advantage is taken of the opportunity to use the moody lighting of London at night, and these films do very well when the narrative allows for many scenes in seedy pubs, run down hotels, smoky nightclubs, Gothic mansions and the like. Characters tend to be exaggerated and grotesque, especially the villains. The violence is intense and shocking, and thankfully this welcomed potency is accomplished without the use of copious amounts of gore. One of the highlights of the franchise is the music. The scores are always noteworthy, either due to being outlandish and bizarre (avant garde and atonal), or more traditional but still overtly evocative and compelling. During the 1960s film composers in both Germany and Italy were riding a crest of supreme creativity, self-expression, and experimentation. In no films is this fantastic artistic freedom more evident than in the Edgar Wallace thrillers. The Monster of London City was scored by Martin Bottcher (pronounced "bett-ker"). Bottcher is a very well known and beloved musician in Germany, particularly to film fans (he is deeply affiliated with the German westerns of the 60s). His style is extremely smooth and elegant, usually relying on rich melodies and simple but emphatic designs. For those versed in the world of film music it will help to offer that his work is comparable to that of John Barry, Henry Mancini and Neal Hefti. Bottcher's main theme for The Monster of London City is typical of his service to the genre; it is a slinky and sensual jazz-infused instrumental. The melody is not complex, but nonetheless bold and effectively communicative of sex, sleaze and sin - three prime ingredients of any solid German-filmed Wallace mystery! As for the narrative, this is a good one. The story concerns a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper terrorizing the denizens of the London after-hours crowd, and the principles involved are an actor (coincidentally starring as the Ripper in a play that benefits from the publicity generated by the real-life murders), a stuffy politician and his beautiful niece (Marienne Koch of A Fistful of Dollars), her lover, and a bumbling detective. The story moves at steady clip and the desired ambiance of decadence and cosmopolitan glamor is thick and juicy. If you have a taste for such things you'll love it! - John Bender
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