What do you expect when you hear the title The College Girl Murders? Visions of voluptuous co-eds in all manner of skimpy and revealing outfits traipsing around a fantasy world of flesh and fun? Substantial softcore silliness complete with faux fornication, erotic mood lighting and lots of superfluous T & A? Oh, and let's not forget the slaughter, shall we - blood flowing freely over ample chests as wounds are flushed, faces registering an uncomfortable combination of dread and desire. Of course there will be a maniacal killer with some sort of psychological stigma stinking up the place with their mixture of menace and madness. Put them all together and you've got a filmic fromage so tart and tangy that Roquefort is jealous at the merest mention of its name.
Well, unfortunately, the movie called The College Girl Murders that we have before us today contains none of these enticing ideals. Oh sure, it has teachers schtupping students who are half their age, and at least 50 times more attractive, and there are ample scenes of babes skiving around a swimming pool (complete with underwater viewing window for casual spying). But the original title of this Germanic joke was Der Mönch mit der Peitsche (The Monk with the Whip), and before you get your B&D/S&M's in a lather, our hooded holy man only uses his lash for evil, not Eros. Indeed, this is a half-baked horror film mixed with a wildly overcomplicated whodunit, all fashioned to be hip and cool and oh so droll. There are elements to enjoy here, that's for sure. But you have to wade through a huge vat of slightly stupid sauerkraut to get to the goodies.
Over at an exclusive school for naughty neo-Nazi nymphs, a young lady has been poisoned. The police are sent in to discover what the hoopla is happening, but all they expose is a Peyton Place full of bed hopping and bad eggs. Seems teachers are getting all tantric with their able apprentices and every adult employee has a decided red herring streak running down their back. Soon, more gals are giving up the ghost, toxin style. The bumbling cops are clueless, even though a strange looking klansman in a bright red robe keeps running around campus lassoing all he comes in contact with. This cleric with a whip apparently serves a mysterious master with an agenda against the school's student body, and the bad man is recruiting prisoners from the local jail to do his venomous bidding. But until the law gets their collective head out of their hinders, it seems there will be no stopping The College Girl Murders.
Movies don't come any stranger than The College Girl Murders, for both good and bad reasons. On the negative side, this is a badly dubbed bit of brainless Bavarian balderdash masquerading as a swinging slice of Londinium amusement. Every character, from the straight as a strap headmistress to the dopey psychology obsessed police chief speaks like they just landed a role in the all Cockney production of Oliver! You've never heard so much made-up British bluster as you will in this icky eel pie picture. Then there is the plot. Most mysteries set up a crime, lay out the suspects and then systematically eliminate them, either by alibi or violence, until the mastermind can be uncovered. But The College Girl Murders doesn't play fair with this formula. It never lets us know a motive behind the menace. Instead, it constantly throws characters at us (even during the 2nd and 3rd Acts) and explains issues that really have nothing to do with solution, while confusing and concealing any possible clues. Part of the fun of a whodunit is playing along with the dénouement, seeing if you are as smart as the man behind the badge. Here, we haven't enough info or impetus to add our deduction to the finale.
Then there are the characters - or perhaps a better descriptive term for their existence would be, the 'one dimensional human space holders that pass for individuals in the movie'. On the side of might and right, the law enforcement duo of Inspector Higgins and Sir Keyston (Key-Stone...get it???) are like a post lobotomy Laurel and Hardy. Higgins chews gum THOROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE RUNNING TIME OF THE WHOLE MOVIE. His jaw never stops gyrating as he works some Wrigleys or Bubblicious into a non-stop swat of spit. It doesn't help his detecting. It just makes him look like a gray haired gentleman's interpretation of a gangster's moll.
Our regal retard with the royal title, on the other hand, believes that Freud, not footwork, is the only way to solve crimes. As a result, he drones on and on about psychoanalysis and therapy so much that you'd swear he was dating Sigmund himself. Along with the teachers, each one as sweaty and seedy and filled with guilty glances as a pedophile at a neighborhood watch meeting, and the Cover Girl style college coeds, we have voids where viable persons should be. The result is a movie where we care about no one and have no real investment in the outcome or solution.
So what is it about The College Girl Murders that makes it watchable, instead of a waste? Well, the answer is a little awkward. First, there is the farfetched plotting. A typical sequence in this film plays out as follows: an incarcerated man is conveniently moved to a new cell. There he meets another prisoner who is the middleman for a depraved criminal mastermind. They strike up a bargain and an elaborate jailbreak (with guards and staff in on the graft) commences. A man driving a Rolls Royce meets the newly free felon in the middle of the woods. Our con is blindfolded and driven to a strangely gothic manor.
Inside, like a scene out of the UK version of Get Smart, they pass through doors and down elevators to eventually arrive at an alligator pit (!) which requires crossing before they enter the underwater seaquarium (!!) world of our villain. After being given a spray gun that unleashes a peculiar poisonous cobweb spew (!!!), our hitman is heralded and sent on his way. The chief is never viewed - we only see him from the back - and just to make sure the lethal misting takes place, our crimson executioner hangs around the sidelines, whip in hand, ready to strangle anyone who crosses his peculiar path.
PHEW!!! As they say in Italy, that-sa lotta plot! And that's just one scene! This happens many times throughout the course of The College Girl Murders and with each increasingly complex killing, we wonder when the movie will finally lap itself and simply implode. Within each character's backstory there are similarly complicated strands of story, and at some point during the proceedings we are required to hear each and every plot particle. That is why we learn that the unusual University at the center of the story has at least two murderers on the staff (apparently, killing is not the big a crime in the UK - or at the very least it doesn't hobble your career choices). We uncover numerous affairs and shady relationships. While certain aspects of the tale are left for speculation (why a red hooded monk? And who is in love with reptiles, and why?) we find out far too much about the men and women populating this shady institution of higher learning - everything, that is, except the information that would lead us to a conclusion. Indeed, The College Girl Murders holds on to such vital data as "wealthy heiress status", "used to be married", and "former circus performers" as a way of keeping the ending a surprise. All it does, however, is scream 'scripted gyp' at the top of its literary lungs.
Still, if one doesn't expect very much from this muddle and gets into the prosaic groove of the otherwise non-exploitative story (all T&A here is covered up and completely ladylike, dammit!), you can cull a small smackering of enjoyment out of this manic movie. True, the ending is abrupt and completely out of left field. Yes, we don't really care if the college girls die or just drop out. It is clear that anyone could be the killer, since the hiring practices of British boarding schools allow for the ready employment of individuals with a proven homicidal streak. And it is certainly true that if Higgins doesn't stop chewing that gum, SOMEONE IS GONNA STICK THEIR FIST THROUGH THE HOME THEATER SCREEN AND MAKE HIM STOP!!! But just like a poorly told joke that has an eventual punchline coming, we stick with this mystery hoping that, in due course, we'll arrive at a semi-satisfying conclusion. Though when it comes it's less than agreeable, the bumps along the way appear less painful than paltry. In the end, The College Girl Murders is a quaint, queer quagmire of clashing entertainment values. What comes up on the winning side - boredom or belated enjoyment - is totally up to you.
Looking pretty good for a certified foreign fudge factory, the 1.33:1 full frame transfer of The College Girl Murders is professional and polished. The colors are more or less correct (there is some minor fading here and there) and the contrasts are clear and well defined. The image does suffer from some obvious age and there are scratches and smudges of dirt inherent in the source. Still, for an unknown title with a less than stellar reputation to begin with, Dark Sky Films remaster is slightly above average.
As this is a dubbed production with lots of bad lip sync, the film's sonics suffer in the translation. The only available audio is a shrill and tinny English track in Dolby Digital Mono. With a swinging 60s theme song that combines elements from Burt Bacharach and Petula Clark, there are certainly melodic aspects of the mix that can actually be enjoyed. But the overall auditory experience is harsh and hollow, as voices never match up with mouths.
Eight images in a photo gallery. That's it. That's the bonus features. I don't know about you, but this calls for a celebration of sorts. Let's build a great big bonfire, light up some inexpensive charcoal, wait until it burns down, and then slowly roast whomever thought that a series of snapshots equaled added content. Worse than bare bones, this miniscule offering feels like a right insult. If the film had been better, it would be.
Cinematic bait and switch is always the most painful of pleasure domes to experience. Your mind is all made up to enjoy a nice helping of slasher horror, and instead you get the Teutonic version of Last of the Secret Agents. You're looking forward to bawdy cockney wenches displaying their bubble and squeak in saucy, scantily clad sequences of pseudo-softcore, yet what you end up with is passable poolside perkiness in all its one-piece glory. You think they'll be sexing. All you get is hexing. Cops can't stop chewing their cud and alligators make a cameo appearance for no discernible reason. Who cares if author Edgar Wallace (the creator of the original 1933 King Kong, not to be confused with the 1756 version of the Great Ape, or the one that's in the Bible for that matter) supposedly coughed up this fictive phlegm ball in between monkey-oriented residual checks? It could be Mike Wallace, or Marcia Wallace, or Dee Wallace Stone for all we care. The College Girl Murders definitely promises more than it ever intends on delivering. It could have been randy, risqué fun. Instead, it's a convoluted conundrum of diminishing returns.
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