Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mosquito der Schänder (1977)

... aka: Bloodlust
... aka: Bloodlust: The Black Forest Vampire
... aka: Bloodlust: The Vampire of Nuremberg
... aka: Mosquito
... aka: Mosquito the Rapist

Directed by:
Marijan David Vajda

A very bleak, disturbing film about a troubled, lonely, reclusive deaf-mute outcast (Werner Pochath) who has endured much abuse in his life and, mistreated and / or shunned by the living since childhood, ends up seeking companionship with the dead. Living in a block apartment house, the man (who is never actually named) spends his evenings alone caring for his pet mouse and haunted by memories of childhood abuse. When he was a young boy, his alcoholic father beat him so severely that he lost his ability to hear or speak. His father also sexually molested his little sister right in front of him. At school he was constantly bullied by his peers. Things aren't any better as an adult. Though he does well at his job, his co-workers have labeled him a "queer" and "pervert" because of his interest in collecting dolls. Because he is unable to have a healthy adult relationship, he seeks the company of prostitutes, who mock him because of his inability to perform. The only person who even really acknowledges in a positive way is an aloof teenage neighbor (Birgit Zamulo), who doesn't seem quite right in head herself and sits outside in the courtyard all day dancing and listening to music. The girl's mother (Ellen Umlauf) warns her to stay away from the man. Though he's polite and well-mannered, she just doesn't trust him.

As the man descends further into madness, he begins sneaking into local morgues and graveyards to visit with perhaps the only people who aren't going to harm him or outright reject him. On his first visit, he simply slices up a body, but his defilement of corpses become more ghastly on each subsequent visit. He decapitates one and removes the eyeballs from another and takes them home to put in a mason jar. He also purchases a glass straw and begins drinking blood from the bodies of the recently deceased. During some of his visits, he defiles the walls with "M.Q." or "Mosquito;" a calling card that has the press equating him to a modern day vampire. When his young female neighbor dies after falling from the rooftop (it's unclear whether by accident or suicide), the man digs up her corpse and interestingly tries to feed her his own blood. By the end of the film, his crimes upon the dead will escalate into crimes upon the living.

Boasting some graphically gory special effects (which are generally effective and probably would have earned this an X certificate at the time of its release), a very haunting organ music score and a compelling wordless central performance from its lead actor, this is an effectively grim and actually quite sad character study that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. The director employs some stylish techniques in presenting the material; shooting the flashbacks with a red tint and the fantasy sequences (where the man temporarily tries to escape from the reality of his own actions) with blurred edges. There are lots of creepy shots of dolls, which are used metaphorically by both the director and the 'Mosquito' character.

Lead actor Pochath (who passed away in 1993) was a regular presence in Euro horror of the 70s and 80s, having already appeared in a small role in Argento's THE CAT O' NINE TAILS (1971) before graduating to lead roles sleazier films, such as the rapist-killers-hijack-a-train trash fest TERROR EXPRESS (1979) and Jess Franco's awful cannibal / zombie movie DEVIL HUNTER (1980). At one point he also came to America to act in the silly cannibal comedy AUNTIE LEE'S MEAT PIES (1991) and a few action movies. Bloodlust would turn out to be the best showcase for his talents within the genre. Regardless of how sick the character is, he and the director ensure he's not just some faceless, one-dimensional psycho, but a tragic figure driven to do unthinkable things because of lifelong abuse and isolation.

Viewers wanting action and excitement may find the film a bit on the slow side, and sticklers for realism might cry foul on scenes with the corpses; were they really not embalmed back in the 70s? The film isn't perfect, but if you're in the mood for a very dark character study, then this is certainly worth a look. It's based on real-life killer / necrophile Kuno Hofmann. The German-born Hofmann was deaf, mute and severely beaten as a child (just as in this film) and spent almost a decade in prison for theft, emerging from his sentence with an interest in Satanism and vampirism. He exhumed dozens of corpses, indulging in cannibalism and necrophilia, and shot and killed three people (so he'd have fresh blood) before being apprehended in 1972. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Customflix DVD (under the title BLOODLUST: THE BLACK FOREST VAMPIRE) is an OK, English-dubbed print of the film.


R.I.P. David Hess (1942-2011)

Best known to cinema buffs as the sadistic rapist / murderer Krug Stillo in Wes Craven's landmark horror film THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), David Hess has passed away in his home just outside of Los Angeles at the age of 69. Under the name David Hill, Hess (then just fifteen years old) began his show business career as a singer (he had two songs just barely make it to the Hot 100), but ended up finding more success as a songwriter and composer for Shalimar Music. There, he penned hit records for the likes of Elvis Presley ("All Shook Up;" which ended up being erroneously credited to Presley, "Come Together" and "Frankie and Johnny" amongst them), Pat Boone (the eight-times-platinum chart-topper "Speedy Gonzales"), Andy Williams ("Your Hand, Your Heart, Your Love") and Conway Twitty ("Make Me Know You're Mine"). After a solid decade-plus working behind the scenes in the music industry, Hess became head of A&R at Mercury Records in New York City. In 1970, in conjuction with western composer John Corigliano, he helped create the rock opera "The Naked Carmen;" which ended up winning a Grammy Award.

Just two years later, Hess accepted the lead role in, and composed the score for, Last House, which would forever change the dynamic of his career. The film sparked much controversy for its graphic depictions of sadism and violence and nihilistic tone, and became an international hit. Hess moved to Munich soon after to work for PolyGram Records' German division. There, he worked as a film dubber and a script translator. Because of the increasing notoriety of Last House and its huge success in Europe, film offers started rolling in. Amongst those were HITCH-HIKE (1977), a psycho-thriller featuring Hess' character Adam terrorizing an unhappily married couple on the road, and the tasteless, sexed-up shocker THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1979). In both films, Hess was typecast as a slimy, aggressive rapist and killer; unsavory roles almost identical to what he'd played in Last House.

In 1980, Hess made his directorial debut with the slasher flick TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980), which predated the much-more-famous SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT by four years in its depiction of Santa Claus as a killer. In 1982, he reuinted with Craven to play a bad guy supporting role in the popular SWAMP THING (1982), and four years after that would reteam with Park director Ruggero Deodato to play a sheriff with a few skeletons in his closet in the slasher BODY COUNT. Hess also put in appearances in the Italian giallo HOMICIDE IN BLUE LIGHT (1991), NUTCRACKER: AN AMERICAN NIGHTMARE (2000), the very low-budget THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT (2003; though not released until 2006), several films for the much-derided Ulli Lommel (2004's ZOMBIE NATION - which currently sits at #11 on IMDb's 100 Worst list and ZODIAC KILLER, which clocks in at #27) and the recent gore flick homage SMASH CUT (2009), which also featured Herschell Gordon Lewis. Throughout his film career, Hess' love for music never wained. He continued to produce music, including several albums ("Caught Up In The Moment" and "Live & Unplugged in Hollywood, 2002."). Some of his music can also be heard on film soundtracks, such as CABIN FEVER (2002) and MANHUNT (2008).

Hess (whose cult celebrity has increased significantly in recent years) was slated to appear in at least four more horror films (including a follow-up to Park) before his untimely passing. He left behind a wife and three children.

R.I.P. David, and condolences go out to friends and family.

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