MosquitoThe full title of this 1976 Swiss curio is MOSQUITO DER SCHANDER (MOSQUITO THE RAPIST), meaning it is NOT to be confused 1995’s big bug bummer MOSQUITO.  MOSQUITO THE RAPIST (a.k.a. BLOODLUST) is a gross, creepy, disturbing yet disconcertingly  (if not always intentionally) comedic look at the crimes of a real-life German serial killer.  What distinguishes it from the serial killer movie glut of the eighties and nineties (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, THE VANISHING, ANGST, CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER, DR. LAMB, THE UNTOLD STORY, SOMBER, etc.) is its grim, obsessive tone and an unforgettable performance by Werner Pochath.

Kuno Hofman, the “Vampire of Nuremberg,” was an ex-con who in 1971-2 roamed around Germany violating women’s cadavers in various unspeakable ways, at one point injuring a morgue attendant during a break-in.  His spree ended with the murder of a couple necking in a parked car, shortly after which he was arrested.  This film follows the particulars of Hofman’s gruesome crimes fairly closely, at least as far as I understand them, though of his background we get very little.  This, of course, suggests that the project was intended as little more than blood and guts exploitation, which I can believe.  I also understand it’s mostly by accident that the resulting film rises above that level (although not very high).

The director Marijan David Vajda made his debut with MOSQUITO THE RAPIST, and would go on to become quite a prolific filmmaker in his native country, as well as an assistant on bigger productions like THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978) and BAD TIMING (1980).  The lead actor Werner Pochath, on the other hand, was already an exploitation movie veteran by the time this movie was made, having appeared in Dario Argento’s classic CAT O’ NINE TAILS (1969), and would go on to play in the likes of MANDINGO MANHUNTER (1980) and the unforgettable RAT MAN (1988).

Kuno Hofman (Pochath) is first seen as a more-or-less normal guy.  What we don’t see is his real-life history as an oft-convicted felon; all we get of his background are several cheesy yet disturbing flashbacks revealing a psychology straight out of the dimestore.  A doll shatters on the ground, for instance, which the filmmakers apparently intend to explain Hofman’s later penchant for dismembering dead bodies…but then there’s a truly ugly and upsetting sequence depicting Hofman’s father sexually abusing him and his slightly older sister.

This bit hangs like a shroud over the rest of the film, making up for many of the laughably cheesy special effects (all the dead bodies on display look like mannequins made of play-doh) and the jangling musical score.  Hofman, obsessed with a pretty girl who lives in his apartment complex, takes to breaking into morgues and sucking the blood from dead women’s bodies, then scrawling “MOSQUITO” in blood on the morgue walls.  He also likes to snatch body parts as keepsakes, including a pair of eyeballs he keeps in a jar.

Unfortunately, the woman he loves unexpectedly falls to her death one day, which sends him over the deep end.  After digging up her body and defiling it, he spies a couple making out in a car.  In an apparent fit of jealousy he brutally murders them, and is nabbed by police shortly after.

Much of what makes MOSQUITO so memorable is the disarmingly straightforward direction of Marijan David Vajda.  Scenes of Pochath reverently scooping out a dead woman’s eyeballs and sucking blood from his deceased love’s neck are powerfully disturbing despite the hideousness of the make-up effects.

Vajda’s touch is a simple and unflinching one, with an obsessive eye for detail; whatever shortcomings this film might possess, audacity isn’t one of them.  However, I definitely could have done without the ludicrously insistent music score (consisting more often than not of discordant organ chords played at maximum volume) and the annoying forced surrealism permeating the too-frequent flashbacks.

Vital Statistics

Manfred Dome Productions

Director: Marijan David Vajda
Screenplay: Mario D’Alcala
Cinematography: Norbert Friedlander, David Khan
Cast: Werner Pochath, Fred Berhoff, Peter Hamm, Charley Hiltl, Marion Messner, Gerhard Ruhnke, Ellen Umlauf, Birgit Zamulo