Monday, July 21, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Bloodlust

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This was a Swiss produced film directed by Marijan David Vajda and released in 1977. Allegedly based on a true ‘vampire killer’ story. I say allegedly because I can find little corroborative evidence around the story of Kuno Hoffmann. According to The Vampire Book in 1973 “Kuno Hoffman of Nürnberg, Germany, confesed to murdering two people and drinking their blood and to digging up and drinking the blood of several corpses. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

I then found the following at Digital Retribution, “Born in 1931, German labourer Kuno Hoffmann suffered a traumatic childhood, born deaf and beaten and abused severely on a daily basis by his alcoholic father. Imprisoned for nine years on theft charges, he emerged with an obsession for self-improvement via the occult sciences. Hoffmann read widely on Satanism and black magic, focusing compulsively on rituals involving necrophilia and vampirism, as he believed these practices would make him ‘good-looking and strong’. In 1971-1972, police and morgue attendants across Germany were baffled by a series of bizarre grave robberies. At least thirty-five bodies were exhumed and mutilated, with evidence of sexual molestation attempted with several female corpses. Hoffmann later shot and killed three victims, drinking blood from each. Captured and arrested in May 1972, Hoffmann readily confessed and despite his defence pleading insanity, the court decided otherwise and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.”

Werner Pocath as the manUnfortunately there is no corroborative reference cited and, whilst in the film the main character – credited as the man and played by Werner Pocath – does kill at least two people (a possible third may have been beaten to death or possibly unconscious) and does desecrate the dead we can not be sure how much is artistic licence. Certainly there is little grave robbing – the man raids chapels of rest. There is precious little other info out there. It should be noted that writer Mario d’Alcala previously penned Guess what happened to Count Dracula.

What we are left with is a highly disturbing film, some poor effects (that work within the context of the film for reasons we will investigate), a series of improbabilities and an abrupt ending. What is possibly close to the most disturbing aspect of the film is the fact that we actually sympathise with the man due to the story Vajda imparts on him – a back story that seems more tragic than that suggested at Digital Retribution.

Having seen the man on his little motorised bike we see an office. A worker is sent to give accounts to the man and tell him that the boss is going to offer him a raise. The worker speaks very slowly to him and, when done, makes a comment about looking after the handicapped. The man is deaf and dumb.

beaten remembering abuseHe gets home, a studio apartment, and sees the girl (Birgit Zamulo) who lives in the same building. She is an odd fish, only wanting to dance, and he is obviously drawn to her. Her father is beating a younger man and she gets involved. On witnessing the domestic abuse the man gets involved and is beaten back. This triggers a memory of childhood and the way is father beat him. The childhood scenes are the most disturbing aspect of the film. He can clearly speak at the time – the inference being that the beatings took his voice and hearing. His younger sister tries to stop the attack and is molested by the father for her trouble. The scene is distressing as a viewer and opens our sympathy for the man.

Birgit Zamulo as the girlAs he goes upstairs the girl’s father makes a comment about the man’s doll collection. It becomes clear to the viewer that these dolls are all he can relate to – trapped in the same mute silence he is. Perhaps this is why he responds to the girl, as she is very much like a doll, trapped in a world of dancing. On his balcony he shows her a doll, it drops and smashes – reminding him of his father smashing his sister’s doll. Indeed, when at night he hires a prostitute all he wants to do is lay his head against her – much to her chagrin (I did wonder why a prostitute would hate such a simple gig, as it were.)

ink like bloodAt home he threatens his dolls – as though doing so gives him power. He puts ketchup on his hand and licks at it, smearing it like blood across papers. At work he is attacked by bullying co-workers when his dolls are discovered. One knocks over ink – again it is like blood and sparks a memory of a similar incident when he was at a school for the deaf. All this leads to him start raiding the chapel of rest at a cemetery (or perhaps more than one cemetery).

scooping eyeballsHis first attack is quite mild (compared to what is too come) he cuts into the breast of the corpse and tastes the blood. Then he carves on the wall – presumably the word mosquito – which is what he becomes known as in the press and leads to the films alternate, and misleading, title 'Mosquito the Rapist'. The second visit sees him taking the corpse’s eyes. The corpse looks very false.

decapitationThe third attack sees him decapitating a corpse and, again, it is obviously a cheap fx. However this works in the context of the film. The man clearly sees the dead almost like dolls and thus, though it is clearly a dummy, through his eyes it actually work, perhaps better than if more realistic models had been used.

a calling cardThe newspapers claim a vampire is stalking the city – how corpse mutilation leads to that concept is beyond me and he leaves his name as a calling card and, even, leaves a knife at one corpse stabbing scene – without a care for fingerprints. Then, why should he care? There seems no police action, it is as though he floats through the city doing what he wants without repercussion – which was surreal to unreal. One guard attempts to catch him and is beaten (possibly killed) for his heroics.

drinking from the deadHe practices on dolls and this is evident when he gets a two pronged glass straw and uses it to suck blood – siphoning liquid from a doll at first. This was another unreal aspect to the film – and the real case. Blood tends to pool in the lower extremities of bodies and coagulate. I can’t see him being able to siphon blood as he does.

true griefThings begin to fall apart when the young girl starts dancing on a rooftop and falls, a broken doll. He goes to a brothel and pays to watch two women together, but only sees the bullying he has been subjected to and then the girl. He is distraught and wrecks his room. After her funeral he pulls her body from the grave. He does not mutilate it but dances for it, cutting his own hand and putting blood on the lips as though he might raise her (as a vampire?).

a live killThings culminates as he follows a couple into woods and attacks them, beating them with a blunt object and tasting fresh blood. Why his modus operandi changed is not mentioned but it leads to his downfall as he drops his id. This leads the cops, in an abrupt ending, straight to him.

This is not a pleasant film. Some descriptions mention necrophilia, which is not the case – other than the fact that we never see him having sex anyway and thus his acts might have been sexual without the obvious bodily reactions. It does, however, contain child abuse – both physical and sexual – as well as corpse mutilation and intolerance. It also boasts an astounding performance by Pocath as his part is entirely without dialogue.

Do we make our own monsters?The film leaves you with the question, “Do we make our own monsters?” This unassuming accountant becomes the embodiment of insanity and yet that is born of abuse, bullying and intolerance. Whether it was so in the real life case, I really do not know.

The imdb page is here.

5 comments:

Ordovicius said...

There doesn't appear to be anything about him in German on the internet

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Sanddef, he is kind of obscure - to the point of urban legend? I'm not really sure.

However, that doesn't take away from the film itself.

Christine said...

I really hope such a sad and disturbing story is not fact-based.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Christine, you would hope not but, I'm sad to say, that it would seem it is built on the bones of a true story - how much so, I can't work out.

christine said...

Unfortunately things like that happen, yes.