The College Girl Murders DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Dark Sky Films
Directed by Alfred Vohrer
Written by Herbert Reinecker, based on Edgar Wallace's novel, The Terror
1967, Region 1 (NTSC), 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on August 30th, 2005
Joachim Fuchsberger as Inspektor Higgens
Ursula Glas as Ann Portland
Grit Bottcher as Betty Falks
Konrad Georg as Keyston
Harry Riebauer as Mark Denver
Tilly Lauenstein as Harriet Foster
Ilse Page as Sekretärian
Siegfried Rauch as Frank Keeney
Claus Holm as Glenn Powers
Siegfried Schurenberg as Sir John
In a lab in an undisclosed location, an important gas is invented. Not important in the "save the world" sense, but in the "it's odorless and will kill you within a minute" sense.
However, the two scientists involved in this seem to be on different pages. The concerned scientist insists they inform the proper authorities of their creation, while the older, wackier scientist seems very nonchalant about the whole ordeal. He tells Mr. I Go By The Law to go ahead and record the findings, and they'll turn in the records for sure.
But what do-gooder doesn't realize, until it's too late of course, is Bizarro Einstein swapped notebooks. And when he opens it up to record the information, the newly developed gas blasts him in the face and he dies a painful death. Within a minute.
A short time later, Bizarro meets a mysterious man and turns over the poison to him. When he is assured by the man in the shadows that he will get what's coming to him, he seems satisfied, says his goodbyes and proceeds to go on his merry way. But things turn ugly for Bizarro when a man in a red KKK outfit kills him with a whip. Okay, in the movie, this Grand Dragon is referred to as a monk, but I've never seen a monk wear a getup like that. But that's neither here nor there, because it doesn't matter what affiliation this David Duke has, the bottom line is he's a flunky with whip skills.
Later on, a prisoner is asked what he would do for $10,000. His reply is that he'd do anything. So arrangements are made for his escape from prison, and he meets with, you got it, the mystery man who has the poison (in a hideout complete with an alligator pit!). After some small talk, the man gives the prisoner a picture, a book (that has the gas) and instructions.
The prisoner follows the instructions, which finish with the death of a girl (in a church, no less), and he is hustled back to prison. It is seemingly the perfect crime, because if the authorities do discover the killer, he was in custody when the crime occurred.
So now it's up Inspector Higgens and Sir John to figure out how, and why, this girl died. And, to make matters worse, the bodies keep piling up under their noses.
Oh, and did I mention this movie takes place at a girl's school? Yeah, good times.
Well, no, not really.
You would think any movie that takes place at an all-girls school is good. But not in this case.
It's not that The College Girl Murders is bad, it's just all over the place.
You have a mysterious bad guy, whose face you never see (until the end, of course), a monk with a whip, a bumbling inspector and his intelligent sidekick, wacky ’60s music (think "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In") and more red herrings than Lord of the Rings has endings.
Murders just doesn't know what it wants to be.
It tries to be a thriller with the whodunit attitude, but the red herrings get old and kill it.
It tries to be a mystery with the man in the shadows and why these people are dying, but the red-hood-wearing lackey is laughable, so it fails there.
It tries to be a comedy with the big doofus, Sir John, but it's just not funny.
So, what the hell is it?
Well, at times, it's fun, even if unintentionally.
If you throw enough stuff at the wall, something has got to stick, and on occasion, it does. The wacky music quickly grew on me and I found myself looking forward to it.
I also found myself looking forward to the each appearance of Whip Boy. Yeah, the whole idea is goofy, but it got me through the movie.
And I will say this, if nothing else, Joachim Fuchsberger's performance as the straight man, Higgens, is pretty damn good. He does so well that if they had played this movie straight, he would have knocked it out of the park. This cat turned in some solid acting. And, to some degree, his good acting hurts this movie because you can almost see what it could have been.
Watching Murders is like watching a person with ADD flip through TV stations. You get a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And just when you start to enjoy this or that, he changes it up on you. Tell me that's not frustrating.
Video and Audio:
Murders has a lot of decent looking color throughout the film, but its 1.33:1 picture is riddled with grain, spots and specks. This is a VHS copy, folks.
The mono soundtrack actually sounds pretty good. It could have been my love for those crazy ’60s tunes, but the voices were always audible and I never had to reach for the remote (unless it was to turn it up when tunes got good).
Like Dark Sky’s Without Warning, this DVD offers simply a photo gallery, but that is more than sufficient considering the age and popularity of Murders.
If The College Girl Murders had picked a theme from the beginning, and stuck with it all the way through, it would have been a much better movie, no matter what that theme was. Instead, it tries to do too much at once and just ends up with a good soundtrack.