This school is killer.
Originally titled Der Monch mit der Peitsche, or “The Monk with the Whip,” this genre-blending slice of European cheese is part of a series of films apparently co-created by Edgar Wallace, the brains behind the original 1933 King Kong. College Girl Murders promises a lot of ghoulish thrills dressed up in late ’60s kitsch.
Somewhere in Europe, a scientist has developed a deadly new poison. But his employers decide to kill him rather than pay him for it. An unseen mastermind starts sneaking a criminal in and out of prison to use the poison on the students and faculty at a posh all-girls college. Two bumbling detectives arrive to solve the case, each one attempting to use “psychology” to find the killer, rather than, say, looking for clues. Meanwhile, a mysterious red-robed monk is sneaking around in the shadows, snapping people’s necks with a bullwhip. After that, things start getting really confused.
Where does this movie take place? Every character’s voice is dubbed on an almost laughable level. This is “Japanese giant monster movie”-style dubbing. Confusing things even more, the accents are all over the place. Some characters sound American, others sound British, and there were a few I couldn’t quite place. IMDb tells me the filming locations were all in West Germany, so who knows?
And what kind of college is this? Apparently, the girls attend Chaste University. When they’re not in class, they spend all day sitting around reading the Bible. It’s hardly a “swinging ’60s” party atmosphere,” as the packaging would have you believe. And just as the girls could compete in the international Miss Bland competition, the others don’t fare much better. We meet a bunch of faculty members throughout the film, everyone from the headmaster to the gardener, and they’re all equally dull characters. It doesn’t help that each of the men wears the same drab grey suit through the whole movie.
There’s not much to recommend here for horror fans. Sure, the red monk is an appropriately ghoulish fiend; but this is really more of a quirky detective story than a horror film. The two detectives get the most screen time, and a lot of their deducing is played for laughs. They bicker about traditional police work versus the new “psychiatric” style of solving crimes. They’re also played as fairly buffoonish, which doesn’t help. Viewers going into this film expecting suspense will be surprised to see so much screen time devoted to two clowns and their verbal slapstick.
The movie might be lacking in story and acting, but it has great production design. The school’s hallways are appropriately stately, lined with ornate wood designs. The mastermind’s lair, meanwhile, is straight out of classic James Bond, with a giant desk surrounded by exotic aquariums and a pit filled with vicious snakes and alligators. Also worth noting is the ’60s era horns-and-bongos-centric score, which will really get your toes tapping.
Once upon a time, this might have been a really good looking movie. But the picture quality on this disc leaves much to be desired. Colors are good overall, but every shot is riddled with flecks and scratches galore. It’s quite distracting, and it’ll give you a headache after a while. Sound is pretty good for mono, especially when the music kicks in or when the villain cracks that deadly bullwhip. The only extra is a photo gallery, which is notable for giving us a glimpse at one of the original posters for the movie.
So, just what was Edgar Wallace’s role in this film? His name appears in the credits, but it’s just his name in big letters on the screen, with nothing attached, such as “produced by” or “created by.” He’s the closest thing the movie has to a celebrity, and yet the nature of his involvement (or lack thereof) remains unknown.
As a relic of another time, this one can’t be beat. A lot of fans have compared it to campy classics such as the Adam West Batman, or the ’60s spy capers such as Our Man Flint. Fans of that era, and that style, will probably find a few laughs here. But for the rest of us, the bad far outweighs the good.