A scientist invents a poison gas using prussic acid as its base. The scientist tests the poison by killing his assistant. The scientist sells his lethal invention to an unknown man and is promptly killed by a monk wearing a red tunic and hood using a white bullwhip. The person the scientist sold the poison to leaves.
Frank Conner (Siegfried Raush) is a pickpocket in prison doing four years. He is smuggled out of prison and given a bible. He is then taken to a church where he switches bibles with a girl named Pam who is attending church with other girls from a local girls’ college. When Pam opens the bible poison gas is released. Pam falls to the ground dead. When the autopsy shows poison Sir John (Siegfried Schurenberg) from Scotland Yard assigns Inspector Higgins (Joachim Fuchsberger) to the case.
The school is run by Harriet Foster (Tilly Lauenstein). Sir John and Higgins begin questioning the students at the school as well as the teachers. Then another girl, Betty Falks (Grit Boettcher), is killed. Suspicion falls on a teacher named Keyston (Konrad Georg). Talk is he was having an affair with Pam and then Betty. When he is killed Harriet’s brother, Mark Denver (Harry Riebauer) comes under the microscope but he ends up not long for this world as well.
In the meantime Conner has been in an out of prison killing whichever girl he is directed to kill. When he kills Betty he is identified by the bus driver. When Higgins goes to the prison Conner is there. Not long after that Conner is killed and found hanging in his cell. Higgins believes the prison has something to do with the poisonings but there is still the matter of the monk running around snapping people’s necks with a bullwhip. There appear to be two killers but finding out who they are and why they are killing is another matter all together.
“The College Girl Murders” AKA “The Monk with a Whip” AKA “Der Monch mit der Peitsche” AKA “The Prussic Factor” was released in 1967 and was directed by Alfred Vohrer. It is a West German crime mystery and a krimi. The movie is supposed to be inspired by Edgar Wallace’s story “The Black Abbott” as well as Wallace’s play on the same story called “The Terror”.
This is another fast paced mystery with lots of suspects and plenty of red herrings. As with many of the later krimis, there is a focus on humor in the film. Siegfried Schurenberg as the scatterbrained head of Scotland Yard provides most of it. The music score is a jazzy sixties modern combined with some spooky fog shrouded cinematography. All tied up with a sinister bad guy right out of a James Bond novel who keeps alligators in a pit in his underground living room.
The later krimis went from complex murder mysteries to theater of the farce. Everything is thrown in and the endings are a breathless whirlwind of tying up loose ends. Characters are tossed in that had nothing to do with the main plot. Other times the killer was a character never referenced before or was in disguise. Forget about trying to solve the riddle of who done it. It’s the ride that is important not the destination. In “College Girl Murders” the elaborate scenes getting people out of jail just to kill college girls is farfetched and unnecessary to the story. The same with the hooded monk. The killings themselves are, in a way, also red herrings.
Gunter Meisner, who plays the chauffer and henchman Greaves, also played the ominous Mr. Slugworth looking to buy an Everlasting Gobstopper in “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” 1971.