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Hunchback of the Morgue


Title: Hunchback of the Morgue
Year Of Release: 1973
Running Time: 82 minutes
DVD Released By: Mya Communication
Directed By: Javier Aguirre
Writing Credits: Javier Aguirre, Alberto S. Insúa

Starring: Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Víctor Alcázar, Alberto Dalbés, Maria Perschy
Taglines:
1. Beware the Hunchback!
2. A freak of nature whose crimes go beyond your wildest terrors!
Alternate Titles:
El jorobado de la Morgue

Rue Morgue Massacres
The Hunchback of the Rue Morgue

Review Date: 6.2.10

Shadow's Title: "Hump Day For The Hunchback"

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Characters
Wolfgang Gotho - The town of Feldkirch’s resident mentally deficient hunchback and gimp. He works in the local morgue as an assistant and is pretty much treated like shit by everyone in town with the sole exception of his childhood friend Ilse as well as Elke, a doctor at the women's reformatory.
Ilse - Laid up in the hospital with a terminal illness and gasping out her final breaths all alone because her boyfriend Udo died, all she has is her devoted childhood friend Gotho to visit her and bring her flowers. The dolt is smitten with her and is heartbroken when she dies.
Udo - This fool is one of the local yokels. He seems to have won the heart of Ilse, but it doesn’t seem like he truly cares. How else to explain why he’s out boozing it up with other gals while she’s on her deathbed? He beats her to it, dropping dead from…something. Probably alcohol poisoning.
Hans Burger - One of the students that spends time at the hospital dissecting corpses and body parts. He harasses Gotho every chance he gets, but makes the mistake of insulting Ilse, which he later regrets when Gotho bursts into his room and shoves flowers down his throat.
Elke - A doctor at the local women’s prison/reformatory. She runs into Gotho after some kids have thrown rocks at him. She bandages him up and later hides him when he is on the run from the cops. For some insane reason, she ends up falling for the guy. Yes, things get physical.
Doctor Orla - He works at the hospital and enlists Gotho’s aid in setting up a secret lab in some catacombs as well as procuring food for the artificial life form he has created. He’s about a crazy as a shithouse rat, thinking he’s made the scientific breakthrough of the millennium.
Professor Frederick Tauchner - He works with Doctor Orla on the secret experiment. His fiancé, Doctor Meyers does not trust Orla and continually encourages Frederick to leave the project. Eventually he does realize that Orla is whacked out of his mind, but not in time to escape Orla’s plans.
Dr. Frieda Meyers - She is engaged to Professor Tauchner and is in charge of the local women’s prison/reformatory, working to rehabilitate wayward girls. She does not like or trust Orla and once she realizes what the nutjob is up to, she tries to put a stop to his deadly experiment.
Inspector Dumb - This guy was never given a proper name in the film and truth be told he didn’t really do anything to warrant the “dumb” appellation, but I needed some comical way to refer to him and his partner. I know one thing for certain: that mustache is down right freaky.
Inspector Dumber - Partnered with Inspector Dumb, this guy likewise did nothing to justify calling him dumber, though their constant questioning of Orla seemed to convey the fact that the pair had no idea what they were doing and hadn’t a clue as to where to begin their investigation.
The Goop - The big glass container of organic goop that Doctor Orla has created, referring to it as “artificial life.” He feeds it a few human heads (for the brains within them, of course), but once the goop grows too big for the container, he has to feed it live people. Lots of screaming ensues.
The Primordial - Orla’s container of organic goop eventually transforms into this thing after it dines on several screaming girls. Once it has assumed definite humanoid shape, Orla calls it The Primordial. You and I would probably call it a walking pile of shit.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Doesn't every morgue have one?Grab yourself a beer and some snacks cuz it’s Oktoberfest! What? It’s not Oktoberfest? What do you mean it’s not even July yet? By the festive music blaring from my computer speakers, I thought for sure it was time to don my lederhosen, slap on my alpine hat and indulge in oversized portions of Schweinsbraten, Steckerlfisch, Würstl and Kaasspotzn…all washed down with some quality brewed beverages. It looks like I was duped. The music is from the opening credits, which accompanies scenic views of the Spanish countryside, which is standing in for Germany in this film (or Austria, Bavaria or some such country).

Our story begins in Feldkirch, one of those quaint, picturesque German towns you see on postcards: set cozily in the mountains and displaying a strange merging or old and new in look and feel. Night comes and down one lonely street comes Gotho (sounds like go-toe), the town’s resident hunchbacked gimp. He passes by the local pub, peering in through the window at all the folks getting drunk and having a good time. Well, as good a time that can be had with some fool murdering an accordion nonstop.

There is some trash talk between some medical students, including Hans Burger, and one fool named Udo who proves his beer-chugging supremacy when he downs two gargantuan glasses of beer while his competitor passes out after one. Afterwards, Udo stumbles out the door and down the street, heading for home. Gotho follows and tries to help him when he drops a personalized photo from Ilse, but Udo tells him to get lost after mentioning how distasteful he finds Gotho’s appearance to be. Then Udo stumbles a few more steps down the street and collapses. A final wheeze is heard and the drunken sap dies. I’m guessing it’s from acute alcohol poisoning.

We turn our attention to the Feldkirch hospital, which sits high on a hill and overlooks the town like some gothic castle. Within, morgue worker Gotho (where did you think he worked with a colossal hump like that…the daycare center?) appraises the now dead Udo, recalling the way the deceased once taunted him. Then he takes out a big knife and cuts up the body, removing a hand, a foot and making a large laceration on the neck.

Gotho loads up the various pieces he has removed from Udo’s corpse into a cart and pushes it to the dissection room. Two doctors give him a bad time, call him names and send him on his way after taking the cart from him. It seems that every one in town takes every opportunity to mock him over his appearance. Everyone except Ilse, that is. Gotho produces the photo of his childhood friend misplaced by the late Udo, and gazes it at it longingly.

Speaking of Ilse, she is also in the hospital, but not because she works there. No, she is currently dying from some nasty disease. Gotho visits her, bringing her some flowers and the terminally ill woman is genuinely pleased to see him. The two have been friends since childhood, with her being the only person who has ever treated him with even the slightest bit of kindness. No wonder he worships her. With all of her family dead, he is the only one who comes to visit her in the hospital.

The next day Gotho is walking down the street when he is besieged by a group of young kids that call him names and throw rocks at him. One nails him in the head and he falls to the ground. The kids run off, but a woman appears and helps Gotho to his feet. This is Doctor Elke (well, Elke is her first name and we never learn what her last one may be) and she takes Gotho back to her place where she bandages the cut on his forehead. In appreciation for her kindness, Gotho falls to his knees and kisses her feet. I’m sorry, but if you want to show your gratitude, maybe sweep the floor or do some odds and ends around the house, but stay the hell away from my feet.

"I had a hunch that roses were your favorite."Later, Gotho goes to visit Ilse at the hospital. He pushes her in a wheelchair and takes her outside for some fresh air. They follow some nearby paths through the trees and around the hospital grounds. They talk and Ilse admits that she knows her time left on earth is very short. He pulls a few roses for her and when she mentions how they’ve made her happy and wishes to have a bouquet every day, he promises that she will get just that.

We now jump over to the Feldkirch women’s prison/ reformatory, where one inmate is beating her cellmate with a belt. Both women are enjoying the process, large smiles and near-orgasmic moaning filling the room. Sheesh, one minute we were in the hospital garden with a dying woman and a hunchback and POW, just like that we’re in a women-in-prison flick! Doctor Elke, who apparently works here, enters the room and separates the two.

Elke goes to visit the prison/ reformatory director, a woman named Doctor Meyer. She is conferring with Professor Tauchner, her fiancé and a man for whom Elke once worked. The two were discussing a Doctor Orla and the secret projects for which he has enlisted Tauchner’s aid. They quickly drop the subject when Elke enters.

In the hospital garden, Gotho is picking flowers for Ilse. Four young medical student/interns/whatever, led by that jerk Hans arrive and begin teasing him. Gotho drops the flowers and assaults them. He does a good job of beating up all four of them until one manages to hit him hard with a gardening tool. He falls to the ground while the others gather around to punch and kick him. This Rodney King moment is stopped by the arrival of Dr. Orla and Professor Tauchner. They chastise the four assailants and help Gotho to his feet. Once standing, he picks up the flowers.

Inside, Ilse mutters Gotho’s name one last time and then dies before he can get to her. He arrives seconds later and is told by the nurse that if he had been there just a moment sooner, he could have spoken with Ilse. Heartbroken, he looks at her body and then at the flowers.

Later in the morgue, Gotho sits slumped over…well, slumped over for him. Two workers arrive with Ilse’s body on a gurney and tell him to get her ready for dissection. Of course, they don’t show the slightest bit of empathy for him and when they see the gold chain around Ilse’s neck, they decide that she doesn’t need it any longer. This is the last straw and Gotho attacks both of them.

There is a bit of pushing and shoving, after which both workers have been knocked down. As one tries to stand, Gotho grabs a hatchet and whacks off his head. Then he turns and hits the other guy right in the gut with the weapon. The guy’s stomach splits open and guts come rolling out. The poor bastard has the good luck to drop to the ground and die instantly.

My only question at this point is this: what the hell is a hatchet doing in a morgue? I can understand having all manner of sharp instruments, bone saws and the like…but a hatchet? Was there wood that needed chopping? Don’t tell me the hatchet was used during dissections and autopsies! Who was the attending physician…Doctor Vorhees? I think that hospital needs to upgrade their equipment.

That is the worst day spa I have ever seen.Gotho now decides to abscond with Ilse’s body. He gathers her up and heads outside. He heads to a rather secluded spot of town. With no one looking, he opens a secret door in the ground that leads to some catacombs and lowers Ilse’s body down with a rope. Descending a ladder, he picks up her corpse again and takes it to an older torture room deep underground. Dust and cobwebs cover everything, including the skeletons of a few unlucky bastards who never saw the light of day again. He places Ilse on a table and tells her to sleep while he goes to pay a visit to those who did not appreciate her beauty.

At the pub, we see Hans and two of the four young men that taunted and beat Gotho earlier at the hospital. Outside, Gotho peeks in through the window as they drink it up. The serving girl sees his ugly mug through the glass and lets out a scream. When the others look, Gotho is gone. After a bit Hans decides to head for home. He stumbles outside and shambles down the street.

Hans is followed by Gotho, who trails the other man all the way home. Hans enters his small apartment and collapses on the bed. Gotho enters through a window, the flowers he picked for Ilse still clutched firmly in his hand. Approaching the bed he grabs Hans by the throat with one hand and shoves the flowers into his mouth and down his throat with the other. Hans puts up only the weakest of fights before succumbing and dying.

Next we see the police discussing the recent deaths. One Inspector – he is never given a name so we’ll call him Inspector Dumb - is providing details to the Police Commissioner. He mentions the bloody deaths of the morgue workers as well as the missing body and says that Gotho has also disappeared, though he dismisses his potential involvement, as he is supposedly a retard. Another Inspector arrives - we’ll call him Dumber - and says that the body of Hans Burger has just been discovered. Inspector Dumb recalls that Hans had an altercation with Gotho earlier that day, so the commissioner orders that Gotho be found and brought in for questioning.

Returning to the catacombs, Gotho is horrified to discover that rats have begun feasting on Ilse’s corpse. He screams at the rodents and tries to brush them away. In response, the rats attack. And they aren’t just any rats! These rats are experts in the martial arts! How else to explain the flying leaps they take at him? Seriously, rats start flying through the air at him like someone was on the other side of the room using them for pitching practice. He bats them away with his arms as they fly at him and then uses a torch to light some on fire. I swear that in some shots it looks very much like real rats were lit on fire. They race around the chamber, trailing flames.

Gotho then picks up Ilse’s corpse – now bloody in spots from having been gnawed on – and carries her to a different room. This one was also a torture chamber in ages past. We see a rack for stretching folks, an iron maiden and other such devices used for making people’s stays as hideously agonizing as possible. I’m guessing the record player and collection of Yanni albums is just out of sight in the corner.

Inspectors Dumb and Dumber drop by Doctor Orla’s house at night – during a rainstorm no less – to question him on the whereabouts of Gotho. The Doctor doesn’t seem to think the hunchback could have had anything to do with all the recent murders.

"Damn. Which one was I dissecting and which one was for my sandwich again?"Later that night at the hospital, Oral works alone with his collection of body organs. As he photographs and dissects one big bloody piece of meat, the covered body on the gurney behind him rises up. Nope, it’s not a zombie suddenly returned to life. In fact, it’s Gotho. Orla is not surprised at all by his sudden appearance.

Gotho leads Orla down into the catacombs and shows him Ilse’s body. He asks the doctor to return life to the dead woman. Orla agrees to help Gotho…if the hunchback will do everything Orla asks of him. Gotho agrees and the doctor makes plans to transfer all his lab equipment down into the caves.

The next day, Orla is fuming mad. It seems some local university has decided to not fund any more of his experiments. He and Tauchner discuss their options. Orla feels they are very close to creating “artificial life” and doesn’t want to quit, despite being ordered to not use any hospital facilities in his experiments. It’s a good thing he’s moving his lab into the catacombs! He shares with Tauchner the location of his new lab and reveals that Gotho is aiding him. Tauchner is at first reluctant to work with a possible murderer, but Orla convinces him that the hunchback is mostly harmless. Hmm. Mostly harmless? Where have I heard that before?

That night, Orla leads Tauchner through the misty ruins of an old abbey. Once used by knights of the crusade, it was later converted to use by the Inquisition, who used it as a place to torture people. The pair descends into the catacombs where they see Gotho standing over Ilse’s body. The hunchback wants to know when Orla is going to “wake her up.” Orla just tells him that it will be soon.

Time has passed and we’re back at Orla’s house where Tauchner wants to know why Orla promised to restore life to Ilse, a task that is surely impossible. Orla makes it clear that he agrees with Tauchner, but is only stringing Gotho along in order to get help from him. Tauchner is again unsure about proceeding with the experiments with Gotho involved, but Orla accuses him of being a bad scientist, so he shuts up and relents.

Now we see Tauchner talking with his fiancé, Frieda (Dr. Meyers) and explaining about how the lab has been moved to the catacombs. Tauchner really believes in Orla’s work, thinking not only of the possible applications for science, but also of the money it might bring his way. She is supportive, but makes it clear that she doesn’t like Orla, his methods, his scruples or the potential dangers of his work.

Again, some time has passed and we see Orla and Tauchner in the new underground lab. Gotho has transported all the equipment and it is now set up properly. The place is filled with tables, large computers and all manner of scientific doodads. There’s even a big metal plate in the floor that slides open to reveal a vat of sulfuric acid, just the thing for disposing of unwanted organic material.

Gotho now arrives, leading three other guys who are struggling with a large crate. The trio put it down and leave to go retrieve another. Where did Gotho find these morons? Do they work for the local moving company? Or were they standing on a street corner looking for work? How is he paying them? Again, Gotho asks Orla about waking up Ilse and once more the doctor just says that it will be “soon.”

Heading outside, Gotho stumbles round the ruins of the abbey, picking wild flowers. No doubt he is anticipating the moment when he can give them to Ilse.

"And now, madam, it's time for your bath."Below in the caves, the three guys Gotho hired to help move are sitting around playing cards and drinking. I guess it must be break time. Damn union rules. They start bitching about the smell in the room, which is coming from Ilse’s decomposing corpse. They decide to do everyone a favor and dump the body into the vat of acid. Two retrieve the corpse while another opens the door to the acid. I must admit, Ilse is starting to look a little green in spots. It’s probably best to get rid of her before anyone catches some nasty germs. So SPLASH. In goes Ilse’s body into the acid.

At that exact moment, Gotho walks in bearing his handful of flowers. Oops! He looks at the acid, mumbles something to Ilse and then drops the flowers. Looking at the three men, he accuses them of killing his friend, since he has been under the illusion that Ilse has been asleep for the last two weeks.

Enraged, Gotho attacks the three men. One is pushed into the acid and vanishes with a brief scream into the bubbling liquid. Another gets hit over the head with a bottle that drenches his face with something corrosive. More acid perhaps? Whatever it is, this guy falls to the ground unconscious while his entire head smokes. The last guy is pushed into the nearby iron maiden. He pleads for mercy but Gotho holds him inside while he slams the door shut. A couple seconds later he opens it again and the guy’s bloody body falls to the ground.

Gotho drags the dead guy and the unconscious guy (whose head is still smoking) out of the lab. Meanwhile, Frieda is bumbling around the catacombs, following directions given to her by Tauchner. She sees some rats and freaks out.

Doctor Orla and Tauchner are working in the lab later that night. They have a large open-top glass container that holds something that looks like pulsing Jell-O pudding. The icky goop is one big cell, according to the two docs. They talk some more about the development of organs and the gestation period. This must be the “artificial life” Orla mentioned earlier. The subject of the three missing movers comes up and Tauchner again conveys his unease, but Orla talks him down, saying that they don’t need those men anymore.

The previous conversation makes it seem like a few days have passed since the movers vanished, yet it was right after Gotho killed them that we saw Frieda in the catacombs. Now Tauchner is wondering why she is late. How much time has passed here, anyway?

Somewhere in the catacombs, Frieda is still bumbling around. She hears an agonized wheezing sound, like that of a ninety-year old asthmatic getting up from his favorite chair after pounding down a pack of Marlboros. She looks and sees two of the movers that Gotho attacked earlier. The body of the guy killed in the iron maiden has been strapped to the back of the other guy, who now has to walk around with a decomposing corpse on his back. Of course, whatever that stuff was in the bottle used to knock him over the head, it has melted away half his face, so he now looks like Freddy Krueger’s cousin. Frieda screams and faints when this poor bastard comes trudging past. He doesn’t even look twice at her, but just keeps walking. I don’t know if he’s been blinded and is walking around aimlessly or is just trying to find a way out.

A few seconds ago, we saw Frieda after Gotho killed the movers. Then a conversation between Tauchner and Orla implied that some time had passed since those three men had disappeared. Now we see Freida encountering the sole survivor and it looks like his buddy has been rotting away for days. Again, I must ask...how much time has passed since Frieda entered the catacmobs?

"For the last time, we're not chefs! We wear white because we're scientists! That's our experiment and not a Soufflé."Gotho finds Frieda and rouses her. Then he leads her to the lab where she sees the experiment being run by Orla and Tauchner. They all look at the pulsing goop and Orla says that the accelerated growth means that it will be assuming a definitive form within two days. They all talk about the success of the experiment and Orla feeds a frog to the big container of goop.

Feeling sad, Gotho later tells Orla that he doesn’t want to work in the lab anymore. Now that Ilse is truly dead, he has no reason to do so and even thinks of surrendering himself to the police. Naturally, Orla does not want to lose his gimpy bitchboy, so he tells Gotho that he will create a new Ilse for him, one that looks the same as the old one. Gotho seems pleased at this news and asks what Orla needs him to do. The doctor gives him an easy task: go to the morgue and retrieve the head from a fresh corpse. Just the head, mind you!

So Gotho sneaks into the morgue at night and using a big saw, slices the head off the body of a recently deceased man (rumor has it that the producers had permission to use a real corpse in this scene and I must say, it does look quite authentic). He stuffs his prize into a plastic bag and heads outside. Unfortunately, two cops spot him and give chase, because they just know that a hunchback emerging from a morgue at night with a bloody bag is never a good thing. Of course, Gotho is wanted for questioning, so I guess that’s why they run after him.

In his attempts at evading the police, Gotho climbs to the top of one building and scampers along the rooftops until he reaches Elke’s home. Then he drops down into her place, where she has been reading. No sooner has she greeted him than the police start banging at the door. Elke hides Gotho in one her rooms and then answers the door. Why, it’s Inspectors Dumb and Dumber! They ask if she has seen or heard anything strange, but she says that she has not.

Once they have left, Gotho wants to know why she protected him, since he is a killer. She says that she knows why he killed those men and if someone were to love her as Gotho loved Ilse, it would be a marvelous thing. Gotho tells her to stop teasing him, as he is ugly and repulses everyone. No one, not even Ilse, could ever be happy with him. She says that he is wrong and again he falls to the floor to kiss her feet. Then she pulls him up and kisses him! How gross! I don’t know what sound I expected to hear more – the snap of his spine as she straightens him into a full upright position, or my stomach doing flip-flops at the sight of their lips smashed together.

Next we see Gotho walking through the dark, the bag with the severed head in his hand. I guess after that smooch with Elke, he got to stepping. In the lab, he gives the head to Dr. Orla, who praises him then takes the head and feeds it to the big container of goop. The goop has grown quite a bit and is now nearly overflowing the glass container. Gotho asks if Orla will need more bodies. Given his close call with the cops, the Doctor says that they will need to find a new way of obtaining the organic material he requires.

"Will ya hurry up and finish that latrine, I gotta take a major crap!"Apparently that new method is called grave robbing, as we next see Gotho digging up one in the cemetery, Orla standing nearby and holding a flashlight. The doctor is patting himself on the back, telling Gotho how good it is for him to follow the lead of a “great man.” He adds that Tauchner doesn’t see things the same way and must not learn of this new hobby of theirs.

Just as Gotho uncovers the coffin and opens it, revealing the stiff body of an old man, a police officer comes along and wants to know what they are doing. The cop recognizes Orla, so the doctor commands Gotho to “get him.” To that end, Gotho smashes the cop’s head in with the shovel. Now feeling bad, Gotho says that he didn’t want to kill the man. Orla ignores him and tells him to get both bodies and then cover the grave up.

Back in the lab, Orla is annoyed to learn that his big container of goop will not consume the dead flesh from the bodies. He postulates that living organisms must be fed to the goop. This means Gotho must start kidnapping people to feed to the goop.

Like the film has constantly done, we instantly jump to a new scene that obviously occurs some time after the one we just left. It is the next day and Inspectors Dumb and Dumber have arrived at Orla's house to question him again about some recent cases of desecrated graves. Not one mention about the missing cop! They ask him a few questions and he naturally lies through his teeth.

BAM! The movie did it again. Orla has barely finished a sentence while speaking with the inspectors when we’ve cut back to the underground lab at night. Orla and Gotho are looking at the big container of goop. The doctor says that the organism is at “the point of transformation” and must be secured. They push the container into one of the nearby cells and then close and lock the door. No sooner have they done this than the sound of breaking glass can be heard. It seems the goop is growing again.

Elsewhere, Tauchner and Frieda debate the merits of Orla’s work. Again, Frieda coveys her dislike of Orla and the belief that the man is a lying, dangerous individual only interested in his own glory, no matter what the cost may be in lives. Tauchner still wants to believe in Orla’s work, but agrees to leave the project since the other man is clearly losing his grip on reality and any association with him may prove to have negative consequences.

When Tauchner goes to the lab to confront Orla and inform him of his desire to quit, the two scientists get into a shouting match. Tauchner attacks Orla, but Gotho comes to his defense, hitting and knocking out Tauchner. As he is about to push Tauchner into the vat of acid, Orla tells him to stop, as he still needs him alive. So they deposit him in a cell and lock the door.

Later, Gotho emerges from the catacombs and makes his way to the women’s prison. How he is so easily able to get inside is a mystery, as no doubt the women incarcerated there would love to get out. Stalking the hallways, he enters one room and finds a young woman snoozing away in bed. He clamps a piece of cloth over her mouth and she awakens instantly. She struggles a wee bit, but soon passes out again.

None of the girls in the escort service wanted Louie Anderson as a client.Next we see Gotho carrying the girl through the underground lab as Orla watches on in approval. The poor girl is awake again and is struggling to free herself from the hunchback. She’s also crying, “no!” over and over again. Orla unlocks the door to the cell where the goop monster resides and Gotho quickly pushes the girl inside. The door is quickly closed again but we can still hear the poor girl crying piteously. We have no idea what the monster looks like at this point, but it must be something gawdawful hideous as the girl starts screaming at the top of her lungs. We do get to hear the monster, which sounds like a cross between a slobbering octogenarian and a mentally deficient asthmatic.

Gotho now decides to visit Elke again. To make a long story short, there is a lot of talking. She’s afraid for his safety, he wonders why she doesn’t mistreat him like everyone else does, she doesn’t see him as a monster, he’s afraid that his time with her is like cheating on the memory of Ilse, blah, blah, blah. She gets closer and they kiss. And then KABLAM! Just like that, she’s got her clothes off and they’re reclining on the bed…though he still has his ever-present black shirt on, thank goodness. I don’t think I want to see his bare hump as they hump.

Moving onward, we move to the women’s prison the next day. Elke informs Dr. Meyers that a girl named Marlene is missing. Meyers wonders if the hunchback has had anything do with it, but Elke defends Gotho saying that it could not be him. Besides, she feels that someone else may be using Gotho. Meyers agrees, no doubt thinking about Dr. Orla, but says that she has to go now.

Frieda heads back to the underground lab and confronts Orla. She wants to know where Tauchner is and tells the doctor that she knows he is involved somehow with the missing girl. She is ready to talk to the police if he doesn’t come clean. Astonishingly, he admits to everything. He explains that he needs live human flesh and plans to take it from the women’s reformatory, as the girls there are scum in his opinion and won’t be missed. Furthermore, as the director of that facility, Frieda is in the perfect position to cover up the disappearances for him. He promises to keep Tauchner alive if she cooperates.

Naturally, Frieda wants to know what he is using the girls for, so he shows her. He opens up a small panel in the cell door and allows her to see the goop monster on the other side. Not that we get to see it. All we get are some screams that sound like Captain Caveman trying to pinch one off after eating a pound of cheese. Frieda is horrified by what she sees and even after Orla has sealed the panel, we can still hear the monster hollering.

Doctor Orla now starts babbling on about how the organism he created will assume a form based on what it eats. He wants it to be human, so he tried feeding it dead folks, but it refused. Thus, he has resorted to feeding it living people. While he’s talking, he turns his back to Frieda. She grabs a metal bar and whacks him over the head with it. With a grunt he falls to the ground. She then runs helter skelter through the catacombs, calling out for Frederick (Tauchner), but only manages to run into Gotho.

At the reformatory, Elke has called the police. Inspectors Dumb and Dumber have arrived. She informs them that Doctor Meyer and her fiancé Doctor Tauchner have disappeared in addition to a girl named Marlene. The cops decide it’s time to talk to Doctor Orla again, as Tauchner worked with him.

POW. Just like that, we’re at Orla’s house and the cops are questioning him. The Doctor claims his recent head injury is from having been beaten and robbed. When pressed by the cops, he makes up a story about Tauchner leaving town for a few days and the cops infer that Doctor Meyers may have gone with him.

Worst peeping tom ever.Back at the women’s prison/reformatory, Gotho is lurking in a room and waiting for a girl to enter. She does so and begins to undress before she sees him and screams. The next thing we see is him carrying her unconscious form through the catacombs, with no hint as to how he subdued her and managed to abduct her. This poor girl ends up like Marlene – fed to the unseen goop monster. Doctor Orla watches as it eats and decides that the creature needs more food, so he sends Gotho back to the reformatory for more girls.

So Gotho heads out and abducts two more girls from the reformatory. As he is carrying them to the secret door in the ground that leads to the catacombs, Elke sees him. She decides to follow him.

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

In the catacombs, we see that Gotho has imprisoned Frieda in one of the cells and is now bringing her some food. She pleads with him to help her and Tauchner escape, but he says he cannot do that. It would make Doctor Orla mad and he needs the doctor to create a new Ilse for him. He turns and leaves once again.

Doctor Orla is trying to convince Tauchner to resume helping him and is going on and on about how important the experiment is. He talks about how the world will be at their feet one day. The guy’s delusions are certainly becoming more and more grand with each day. Tauchner refuses to help, so Orla decides to feed him to the monster.

Meanwhile, Elke is bumbling around the catacombs and comes across those two guys that Gotho tied to together a few days back. The one guy was already dead, strapped to the back of the dude with the melted face, who tried to find a way out with the corpse on his back. It appears the poor bugger didn’t get to far, as he is now dead, too. Elke screams when she finds the bodies and Orla hears her from the lab. Realizing there is a girl nearby, he orders Gotho to go get her, no doubt intending to feed her to the (still) unseen goop monster.

When Gotho finds Elke, she has fainted – either from the shock of seeing the dead people or the horrible stench arising from the stiffs. Rats are gathering around her, so Gotho grabs a torch to fend them off. Once more we are treated to a scene of flying kung-fu rats as they hurl themselves at the hunchback. Additionally, we are subjected to a shot that appears to be a very real rat as it runs around on fire. Man, but I HATE it when real animals are hurt or killed for a movie.

Bringing Elke back to the lab, Gotho is told by Orla to feed her to the monster. Naturally, he refuses, as she has been nice to him. Yeah, I’d say so! Kinky sex is pretty much the definition of nice in some places. Orla then suggests feeding Tauchner and Meyers to the creature, but again Gotho refuses. He’s mad now and blames Orla for everything, adding that the other man has lied to him. He closes in on Orla, intent on killing him.

Orla doesn’t waste any time in running for a locker, retrieving a pistol and firing at the hunchback, hitting Gotho in the shoulder. This doesn’t slow him down and soon the two men are fighting. Eventually Gotho manages to knock out Orla, who hits the control panel for the acid vat before sliding to the floor. A few feet away, the door to the acid vat opens in the floor.

Gotho now stumbles down the stone corridors and frees both Tauchner and Meyers, asking for their help in saving Elke. They all rush back to the lab where Tauchner picks up the unconscious Elke and hightails it out of there, followed closely by Meyers. Gotho tries to follow, but Orla has come to about now and fires his gun at him again.

At this moment, the goop monster – which has been hollering nonstop for the longest time – crashes through its cell door and emerges into the lab. We finally get to see it! It’s not really a goop monster any more. Now, it looks more like…a shit monster. Seriously, this thing looks like a six foot tall, bipedal piece of oily shit. Orla shoots at it, attracting its attention. It walks over to him and beats the hell out of him. We see Orla fall to the ground, half his face ripped away. I think he’s dead.

Whew, something stinks.Grabbing a torch, Gotho uses it to attack the shit monster. The thing turns and stomps toward him, small bits of oily crap flying from its body with each step. It finally manages to grab him and as the two struggle, they both loose their footing and fall into the open vat of acid. SPLASH!

Elsewhere, Elke wakes up as Tauchner and Meyers flee the catacombs with her. She asks about Gotho and calls his name a time or two.

A final close up of the bubbling acid confirms Gotho’s fate.

The End.

 

Review

This film took me by surprise. I’ll admit to having had a difficult time getting all the way through some Paul Naschy films without nodding off a time or five. There’s some odd confluence of dubbing, deliberately paced scripts (slow) and an emphasis on mood and atmosphere over action Whew, something stinks.that makes many European films of the 70’s hard for me to get through in a single sitting. However, this was not one of those films. From the very beginning (once the annoying oktoberfest music went away) I was enthralled by the story and characters. Maybe you will, too. Then again, maybe not.

The story somehow manages to squeeze in a veritable cornucopia of horror story elements, including a mad scientist, a hunchback assistant, a warren of creepy catacombs, a series of murders, a crazy experiment conducted in secret, an inhuman monster, a small town European location and a liberal dose of blood and gore. Despite the gothic undertones inherent in the story and setting, the film takes place in a (then) contemporary 1970’s German town. The narrative takes a while to set things up and get into proper gear, but once it does, things unfold at a lively pace.

Naturally, the first character that must be discussed is Gotho. As portrayed by the late great Spanish horror icon, Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina), Gotho is at heart a very tragic character. If being deformed wasn’t bad enough, he finds that the one source of happiness in his life is taken away and in his own bumbling attempts at rectifying the situation, he becomes more and more a monster himself. Whew, something stinks.The viewer can both pity and despise him and Naschy really gives it all he’s got, selling the character and bringing him to life. We watch as Dr. Orla manipulates him into increasingly dark and evil deeds and while we automatically demonize Orla, we still cannot help but feel a spark of empathy for Gotho’s plight. In the end, his fate is just, brought about ultimately by his own actions despite his decision to abandon the course he’s on.

If there is a true villain in the film, it has to be Doctor Orla. Despite Gotho’s actions, which let’s face it, are not exactly lawful and pure at times; it is Orla that pushes him onto that dark path of murder. Yes, Gotho had killed before Orla commanded him to do so, but only in retaliation out of some perceived slight against him or his beloved Ilse. It was only after he came under Orla’s influence that he began abducting and murdering innocent people. It’s Orla’s indifference to anyone and anything that doesn’t further his own personal goals that is the true evil here.

The character that really gets one wondering is Elke. What in the hell does she see in Gotho? What sort of major psychological hang-ups is she dealing with if a stupid, deformed, unwashed killer is the kind of man she is attracted to? I’ve heard of women going for the bad boy, but in this Whew, something stinks.case it’s more like the gimp boy. While I can understand the empathy and/or pity she feels for Gotho and his plight, convincingly transforming that into a sexual desire is something that I feel the film failed to accomplish. Then again, this was a Paul Naschy film. As writer, I’m sure he made it a point to include bed scenes with at least one hot babe.

The two main gripes I have about this film are lighting and editing. The former may just be a result of age and degrading film prints. I dunno, but many of the exterior night scenes are very difficult to see. It was almost to the point where I would Whew, something stinks.have welcomed a day-for-night shot or two. As for the editing, oh boy. Often in film, when moving the narrative along and segueing from one scene to the next, filmmakers will use establishing shots to help convey the idea that the subsequent scene is occurring elsewhere or at a different time. Sadly, this practice is overlooked for a large chunk of this film’s second half, making for a rather jarring story. One minute a character is talking. No sooner has he finished his sentence that POW, we’ve moved on to a new scene that is obviously occurring much later. It can be rather difficult to follow if one is not paying close attention.

Overall, if you like European horror and/or Paul Naschy, this film is an absolute must see. More casual fans may also want to take a look for the sheer novelty of seeing so much crammed into one film. Lovers of B movies will no doubt revel in all the cheesy goodness here. The film may not have survived all these years in the best of shape, but it sure beats a lot of other films that are out there.

 

Expect To See:
Crazed Killers - It’s obvious that in addition to his physical deformities, Gotho is not all there in the head, thus why he believs killing for Dr. Orla will help bring Ilse back to life.
Crazy People - In addition to the mentally deficient Gotho, we have Doctor Orla, who is just flat out stark raving bat-shit bonkers in the usual mad scientist way.
Extreme Violence - There are plenty of deaths and the vast majority of them are not what I would deem to be pleasant ways to buy the farm. Lots of screaming in most cases.
Gore - Because many of the deaths involve nasty ways to die, there is an abundance of blood, guts, severed body parts, melted flesh and other such visual delights.
Macabre Hijinks - With all the lurking in shadows, running around ancient ruins, skulking about in dusty catacombs and the idea of life from death, how can we not apply this icon?
Monsters - Aside from the human monsters, there is one big glass container of organic goop that, after being fed lots of living girls, transforms into a bipedal piece of ambulatory crap.
Nudity - Just a quick peek at some bare boobs. In fact, blink and you’ll miss it. Considering what else is transpiring at that moment, you might already have averted your eyes.
Romance - For some inexplicable reason that only makes sense in the realm of bad movies, Elke the affluent doctor falls for the deformed, mentally impaired Gotho. Yech.
Science - Doctor Orla is trying to create “artificial life” as he calls it. This requires an extensive lab, lots of scientific mumbo jumbo and a big glass container filled with goop.
Underground Hijinks - A large portion of the film takes place in ancient subterranean catacombs used in centuries past by the Teutonic knights and then the Inquisition.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 15
Deaths from natural causes: 2
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 34
Smokes: 7
Severed heads: 2
Other severed body parts: 3
Times Gotho kisses Elke’s feet: 2
Times cops question Orla: 3
Times Gotho is called names: 7
Fistfights: 3
Total gunshots fired: 4
Martial arts expert rats: 12

05 Mins – There is going to be one gargantuan pee after all that.
08 Mins – Hands off!
16 Mins – Suddenly, we’re in a women’s prison flick.
27 Mins – Hans needed more roughage in his diet.
29 Mins – Somebody call PETA!
35 Mins – And you call yourself a scientist?!!
44 Mins – Iron Maiden? Excellent!
51 Mins – How to get a head in the field of medicine.
52 Mins – It’s so dark, I can’t see what is happening.
56 Mins – C-c-c-r-r-a-c-k!
68 Mins – Sounds like someone is constipated…bad.
80 Mins – It’s a walking pile of shit.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone says the name Gotho, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

It was a dark and stormy night.

"Just a little off the top? Hehe,
we'll see how he likes this."


"Wonderful news, my dear! The
test results indicate that you'll live!
What? Wait, this isn't room 701?"

 
"I'm on my deathbed and could go
at any moment...and you bring
me fake flowers that squirt water?
What were you thinking?"


I think TUMS may be a bit
overmatched with this one.

"I just can't shake the feeling
that I'm not alone."



 
"Cool! You installed a hot tub!"

 
"And soon the world will tremble
before my five layer Jell-O surprise!"

Hump day has multiple
meanings in this town.

"The cure for cancer? How about
you find a cure for this mess
first? This place is a pigsty."

"Ouch! Have you been watching
Star Trek again?"

Once again the plumbing backed up,
leading to traumatized bathroom users.

 

Immortal Dialog

Doctor Orla on the secret experiment.

Doctor Orla: “For the first time in the history of humanity, we can create artificial life.”

Shadow’s Comment: And thus was born Reality Television.


More of Orla.

Doctor Orla: “I believe you see the absurdity of your doubts. We’re at the point of the biggest discovery in scientific history.”

Shadow’s Comment: You mean they've finally found a way to take the stickers off DVD and CD cases without leaving a sticky residue behind?


Gotho's reasons for quitting.

Gotho: “I don’t want to go on working here.”
Doctor Orla: “But you promised to help me, Gotho.”
Gotho: “It was because…because of Ilse. Only because of her. And now…she’s completely dead.”

Shadow’s Comment: Completely dead? That's a lot worse that mostly dead. I don't think Miracle Max has a big-ass pill for that.

 

Keep In Mind
  • Drink enough beer and you'll drop dead.
  • In some European locales, autopsies are performed one severed body piece at a time.
  • Being a mentally deficient hunchback will not prevent one from scoring with the chicks.
  • Sulfuric acid will bubble constantly regardless of the room’s ambient temperature.
  • Robbing graves in a cemetery while it’s still light out and not expecting to be seen while doing so is a rather foolish notion.
  • Repeatedly breaking into and then back out of a women’s prison is an easily accomplished feat.



This Film & Me

This one and I go way back. All the way back to December of 2009. Wow, that was a long time ago! Not. It was then that I first heard of this film when I read about the impending region 1 DVD release. European horror! From the 70’s! Starring Paul Naschy! Say no more, I had to have it! So I pre-ordered it, waited and watched it when it arrived. Wow, I really enjoyed this one! Thus, I decided to bump it up my review list. It’s always awesome when one discovers an old gem of a film that had eluded them for years. It’s like finding buried treasure.

Shadow's rating: Seven Tombstones



The Good

  • Great gothic atmosphere
  • Effectively gross monster
  • Gotho is both a sympathetic and inhumane character
  • Some blood and guts, but not over the top

The Bad

  • Lack of establishing shots before many scenes
  • Choppy editing
  • Dubbing is hit and miss
  • Hot chicks don't get naked enough

The Ugly

  • Real rats set on fire
  • Paul Naschy's terrible wig
  • Elke humps the hunchback
  • Some shots are too dark to see very well

 

 

Review Round-Up
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