Sinister Cinema | Review by Dan Taylor
night. Darkness falls on my block. Lights
around the 'hood flick off one by one. By
one. Duty calls. Something called THE MYSTERIOUS
MAGICIAN. Given to me by a man known only
as Wolfie. Mysterious dealings indeed. I
know nothing about what's in store for me,
and I like it that way.
Tape's rolling. Black, white.
Is this the movie? No, it's just a trailer
for something called THOUSAND EYES OF DR.
MABUSE. It's got gunshots, crap falling
from the ceiling, and Auric Goldfinger himself.
Christ, maybe one day this'll be on one
of the three hundred cable stations that
only seem to show BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY
and WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING.
I won't hold my breath.
Okay, the preview's over and
there's a secretary patching a call through
to her boss. Is this the movie? I don't
know. Nothing tells me it is, but nothing
tells me it isn't. Wait! Somebody has just
clobbered the secretary and they're putting
her into some kind of underwater submarine/coffin.
A subma-casket! Cool. Credits come up, bullets
riddle the screen and only now am I sure
that I'm watching Edgar Wallace's THE MYSTERIOUS
The credits pop up names like
Joachim Berger, Heinz Drache, Ann Savo and
Eddi Arent. Berger. Heinz. Mmmmm, I'm getting
hungry but the score distracts me... it's
superb! Screams, moans, gunshots and lotsa
jazzy badabadah's! I'm in.
Cue sexy heels and some nice
cleavage. It's the office of Inspector Bryan
Edgar Higgins (Joachim Berger) and for some
reason he's just come from the darkroom
where he was developing cheesecake shots
of the va-va-va-voomy Miss Osbourne. Which
Elise, the inspector's main squeeze, doesn't
take kindly to. But before he can fix things
on the personal front, duty calls.
Seems that secretary's body
was discovered floating in the river and
she'd been strangled before she drowned.
Which makes the whole goofy interplay between
Higgins and his boss, Sir John (Siegfried
Schurenberg), seem really kind of callous.
("It's about a woman." "I
hope a young one..." Ah, no jackass,
a dead one.)
At this point I have no idea
what kind of inspector "Inspector Higgins"
is. Judging from the cheesecake photos and
the delicious dishes he surrounds himself
with I'm guessing Female Body Inspector.
Woops, wrongo! Turns out he's Scotland Yard!
Woulda never guessed that one.
Seems that the killers picked
the wrong gal to kill and dump in the river.
Turns out that her brother is Ringo. Wait,
scratch that. Her brother is "The Ringer,"
a notorious criminal who has been banished
from the UK for causing some scoundrels
to commit suicide. No, really. That's what
they're telling me. The Yard ('cause that's
what we like to call it) has a strong suspicion
that the secretary's boss is involved in
her murder, but they're all worried that
The Ringer is going to come back from Australia
and get his revenge on the killers. In fact,
here comes The Ringer's wife now, arriving
on the plane from Australia. And while she's
wearing a black hat she seems all too cheerful
about the death of her sister-in-law.
It's at this point that THE
MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN (aka DER HEXER, THE
RINGER and THE WIZARD) starts pushing red
herrings like a Wendy's employee pushing
the "chili." Who is The Ringer?
Is it Finch, the kleptomaniac butler now
working for the chief suspect in the murder?
Is it one James Wesby, who just happened
to be on the same plane as Mrs. Ringer...
who just happens to be in the washroom to
see The Ringer climb out the window... who
just happens to be in the hotel lobby watching
Inspector Higgins through a big hole in
With Higgins at his wit's
end, Sir John decides to call in Inspector
Warren, the only man to "almost"
capture The Ringer. I believe he was successful
in capturing Ringo, but The Ringer got away.
But before Sir John can call him in Inspector
Warren shows up with the same idea. Then
again, maybe he just wanted to check out
Miss Osbourne in the latest in a line of
dresses that are one or two sizes too small!
Yum. (Of course, this movie was made in
1964, which means that sexy Ann Savo is
now, well, let's forget that and just look
at her ass and boobs again! YAY!)
Inspectors Higgins and Warren
are not exactly The Yard's answer to Starsky
and Hutch. Higgins and Warren chase a suspect
across a series of rooftops only to come
up empty. Higgins gets clobbered by one
of the villains while Warren is hanging
out near the house where Higgins gets clobbered,
which just happens to be near the mysterious
canals which are right by the creepy Nazi
Youth Girls School run by the "priest"
who looks like Harrison Ford from that submarine
Pretty soon The Ringer tires
of playing these reindeer games and the
scoundrels start dying, one by one. By the
time that Messer, the chief suspect, is
the only one left, he goes crawling to Sir
John for a "bodyguard." Who do
they give him? Higgins. Good luck dude.
Like a crime thriller is supposed
to end up, all the major suspects and characters
arrive at the same place at the same time
in order for The Ringer to be unmasked.
(WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD.) And it's... it's...
ah, hell, it's Inspector Warren! We know
this because the real Inspector Warren turns
up after being kidnapped by The Ringer.
He impersonated the inspector in order to
get to the killers, but he made one fatal
mistake... he forgot that the real Inspector
Warren doesn't like women. "For his
own reasons," of course. No, really.
That's how they know he's not the real Warren!
Last minute twists abound!
Mrs. Ringer shoots Mr. Ringer, but not really,
and when the cops go to subdue the wife,
Mr. Ringer escapes but then the butler (forgot
about him, didn't ya?!) turns out to be
The Ringer's assistant and so he knocks
out the one cop they left with Mrs. Ringer
and all is safe because The Ringer has escaped
to fight crime, or hex people, or play ring
toss with 'em or whatever the hell it is
that he does another day! YAY!!!
Whew. So, what's the verdict?
Thumbs up, way up, for THE RINGER. First
off, I love the character of Mrs. Ringer.
She makes no bones about the fact that her
husband is there, he's taking care of the
bad guys and they'll leave when it's all
over. There's a supremely bold air to her
that's very bewitching. Second, the not-quite-catfight
between Miss Osbourne and Higgy's galpal
Elise is priceless. Whenever Miss O calls
the inspector, Elise emits this hysterical
feline growl/screetch. Third, not only do
we have the Newspaper Cam but we also get
bold use of the Phone Cam by shooting through
the holes of a rotary phone from inside
the phone. Love it. And finally, well, it's
got hot chicks making drinks while dressed
in a towel, cleavage, sexy heels, and rampant
double entendres that would make 007 blush.
What's not to like?