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  Angels of Terror This Is Edgar Wallace
Year: 1971
Director: Harald Philipp
Stars: Uschi Glas, Hansjörg Felmy, Werner Peters, Harry Riebauer, Vadim Glowna, Siegfried Schürenberg, Günther Stoll, Petra Schürman, Friederich Schoenfelder, Lyvia Bauer, Peter Neusser, Friederich G. Beckhaus, Michael Miller, Gerd Frickhöffer, Ingrid Steeger
Genre: Horror, Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Disgraced ballet dancer Myrna Fergusson (Lyvia Bauer) helps Scotland Yard detective Inspector Craig (Hansjörg Felmy) trap a gang of heroin traffickers. Unfortunately one of their number, biker assassin Jim Donovan (Michael Miller) manages to escape. He tracks Myrna back to a seedy Soho hotel and shoots her dead. The gunshots are heard next door where unscrupulous photographer David Armstrong (Vadim Glowna) breaks off from snapping pornographic pictures of a sexy naked blonde to grab some juicy shots of the murder. Yet when Inspector Craig reaches the hotel Myrna's corpse has disappeared.

Meanwhile, Myrna's sister Danny (Uschi Glas) arrives in not-so-Swinging Seventies London and shortly after hearing the horrible news is hassled by no less than three shifty men. Hotel manager Mr. Stout eavesdrops on Danny's phone conversations with Inspector Craig, ageing swinger Milton S. Farnborough (Harry Riebauer) is intent on seducing her but also seems to know more about what is going on, and our old friend David Armstrong offers to hand her photos with a vital clue about Myrna's murder for one-hundred pounds. Don't laugh, that was a lot of money back in 1971. Then an unseen assassin shoots Armstrong dead and when the police arrest Jim Donovan, kills him too.

From the mid-Fifties the West German film studio Rialto produced a series of outlandish thrillers ostensibly adapted from stories by British pulp novelist Edgar Wallace though more often based on those devised by his son, Bryan Edgar Wallace. Set amidst a skewed European vision of Swinging London that was alternately kitsch, quaint and lurid, each entry opened with a narrator introducing himself as Edgar Wallace in an ominous voice somewhat like that of the aliens in Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons followed by gunshots that left bloody bullet holes across the screen. Angels of Terror was one of the very last Edgar Wallace crime thrillers, or krimis as they are known in Germany, released at a time when the genre was all-but eclipsed by the gorier, sexier Italian-made gialli. In fact the final entry in the series was the Italian co-production What Have You Done to Solange? (1971) which was essentially a giallo with almost none of the familiar elements from a krimi.

Co-produced by Constantin Film, who later became a major force in the international film market producing among others the Resident Evil series, Angels of Terror responds to the giallo by upping the ante in terms of its gore content (a henchmen gets mangled by a meat grinder) and nudity. The film features voluptuous cameos from Brigitte Skay, star of Isabella, Duchess of the Devils (1969) and Mario Bava's proto-slasher Bay of Blood (1971), and Ingrid Steeger from German sexploitation favourite Ich ein Groupie (1970). At heart though it is a strangely cosy murder mystery mixing lovably comical characters with sordid thrills in disarmingly charming fashion. Along with likeable heroine Uschi Glas, who gets much more to do here than in College Girl Murders (1967), Siegfried Schürenberg also returns in his stock role as pompous police commissioner Sir John. Here he is obsessed with redeeming Scotland Yard's good name by finally uncovering the identity of Jack the Ripper (!) and rather unusually rebukes Craig for employing psychology, a method he was highly enthusiastic about in College Girl Murders. Nevertheless such inconsistent opinions are in keeping with the character established in previous films. Although still something of a buffoon and a lecher, often drooling after various nudie cuties and doe-eyed Danny, Sir John proves a more endearing character this time around. At the finale he sweetly ensures long-suffering Inspector Craig gets the girl. By contrast Hansjörg Felmy is unfortunately one of the less charismatic detective heroes in the series.

Actor and director Harald Philipp dabbled in seemingly every genre popular in West German cinema, from Karl May westerns (The Oil Prince (1965), Winnetou and the Crossbreed (1966)) and Jerry Cotton thrillers (Murder in Manhattan (1965), The Trap Snaps Shut at Midnight (1966)) to Eurospy adventure (Code Name is Kill (1967), sexy thrillers (The Blonde Connection (1969) and sex comedies before settling into a long career in television. He keeps things lively and well-paced. Angels of Terror is not as delirious as earlier entries in the Edgar Wallace series and abandons Gothic horror and James Bond-ian gadgetry for more a more earthbound crime thriller, but is action packed and often suspenseful. The killer's identity is genuinely unexpected if way out of left-field especially for this series.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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