Sunday, 31 January 2010

Der Teppich des Grauens / Carpet of Horror / Il terrore di notte / Terror en la noche

Within the opening minutes we learn that the cast of this 1962 krimi includes Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and Werner Peters and that its director is Dr Harald Reinl. We also get establishing shots of London, meant to convince us that the film wasn’t made on a studio backlot in Germany and failing in this regard, and, of course, the opening murder, committed via a pellet that sublimates to give off a deadly gas. The victim was about to reveal the identity of a feared master-criminal. Scotland Yard are brought in to investigate…

The hand of doom

If all this is familiar stuff, there are also some unusual things about The Carpet of Terror – a somewhat misleading title, perhaps, but also one that sensibly downplays the Zyklon-B aspect of the killer's modus operandi for the German audience of the period – that make it worth the krimi enthusiast’s time.

For starters Fuchsberger's character, Harry Raffold – the allusion to gentleman thief Raffles is quite deliberate – is not a Scotland Yard man but rather a member of the secret service. This leads to a spot of confusion when he is arrested by an over-enthusiastic Scotland Yard man.

Fuchsberger and Besari

Raffold also has a black sidekick, Bob, played by Pierre Besari. While basically the film's Eddi Arent character, his ethnicity is never made an issue. This is in sharp contrast to monster roles like Al Hoosman's Bhag, where blackness and primitive savagery were part and parcel.

Behind the scenes there are also various points of note. Carpet of Horror was produced neither by Rialto nor by CCC but by Germania Film GmBH. Perhaps consequently it was based not upon an Edgar Wallace or Bryan Edgar Wallace source, these being the properties of Rialto and CCC respectively, but rather an imitation Wallace by German writer Louis Weinert-Wilson.

The film was also a Spanish and Italian co-production like most of Germania's output. Talent from both countries is present behind and in front of the camera including co-scriptwriter Eugenio Martin and composer Francesco De Masi – beneath a Germanised pseudonym – and actors Eleonora Rossi-Drago and Antonio Casas. As such, it might be considered a forerunner of CCC's co-production crossovers like the krimi-giallo What Have You Done to Solange? and Jess Franco's The Corpse Packs His Bags.


In other ways Carpet of Horror is more business as usual: Dor plays the orphan who has come into an inheritance of £50,000 and who ends up being rescued by and marrying Fuschbeger; most members of the criminal gang are leather-coated proletarian types; the police have a very un-British propensity for carrying and using firearms, and Big Ben's chimes are heard even when the action has relocated to a country house far outside of London.

The gang and the master's (non-)voice

Reinl also again engages in his Lang-isms, with the criminal mastermind a Mabuse like acousmetric figure who we never see until the end and who communicates with their minions via a TV monitor.

1 comment:

Elliot James said...

Fuchsburger was THE MAN.