The second of what eventually became dozens of krimis -- German crime pictures adapted from books by English novelist Edgar Wallace -- made in the 1960s and '70s and the only one produced by a company other than the Danish-based Rialto Film -- Kurt Ulrich Filmproduktion -- Der Racher revolves around a serial decapitator stalking a film crew.
Two women cycling on a pretty English country road open an abandoned box and find a human head inside. "The Avenger" ("Der Kopfsjager -- the headhunter -- in the original German) has claimed his 12th victim! Major Staines (soon-to-be krimi regular Siegfried Schurenberg) assigns detective Michael Brixan (Heinz Drache) to pose as a celebrity reporter and see if he can learn anything from latest victim's only relative, aspiring actress Ruth Sanders (Ina Duscha). Ruth has landed a small part in a film that's being shot on location at the stately home of perverted aristocrat Sir Gregory Penn (Benno Sterzenbach), and Brixan quickly discovers that the cutthroat machinations of cast and crew are scary stuff. Jittery, alcoholic screenwriter Lorenz Voss (Klaus Kinski) is clearly up to no good -- a mysterious script page was written on the same typewriter as the killer's taunting letters to the police -- director Jack Jackson (Friedrich Schoenfelder) has just decided to punish pushy peroxide-blonde star Stella Mendoza (Ingrid van Bergen) by handing her role to newcomer Ruth and Penn -- who keeps a lovely Indonesian dancer (Maria Litto) chained up in a tower and employs an Bornean ape-man named Bhag (Al Hoosmann) as his butler -- is determined to have his wicked way with the innocent ingenue.
A charming mix of old dark house cliches and behind-the-scenes drama, THE AVENGER was veteran director Karl Anton's last film and benefits greatly from his steady hand. Kinski is in fine lunatic form, and the sequence in which director Jackson discovers that he's accidentally captured a woman's haunted face in the background of his footage predates BLOW-UP by six years.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The second of what eventually became dozens of krimis -- German crime pictures adapted from books by English novelist Edgar Wallace -- made in the 1960s and '70s and the only one produced by a company other than the Danish-based Rialto Film -- Kurt Ulric… (more)