Clay Shelton (Otto Collin) is a bank robber, blackmailer, forger and murderer. During a shoot out at a bank he is captured by Chief Inspector Blacky Long of Scotland Yard. Shelton is convicted and sentenced to hang. As his last request he asks to have several people at his execution. These are the people he believes are responsible for his capture and sentencing. Before he is executed he vows that his “Gallow’s Hand” will return from the grave and take vengeance on each one. The people assembled are: the prosecutor, the judge, the bank director, Monkford (Karl-Georg Saebisch), a by-stander and Mr. Crayley (Dieter Eppler), who prevented Shelton from escaping, and Inspector Long, who trapped and arrested him. The only one missing is Mrs. Revelstoke (Elisabeth Flickenschidt), who spoiled his shot. She refused to come.
First off is an attempt to kill Inspector Long. When someone shoots at Long and misses, the shooter is then himself killed before he can be caught and questioned. Then the prosecutor dies in a car accident. After that the judge on the case is killed when the staircase in his house gives way and he falls through breaking his neck. With one attempt and two murders having been carried out Long has Shelton’s body exhumed. When they open the coffin it is filled with bricks and a list of people that are scheduled to die. The only additional one on the list is the executioner. True to form the next man to be murdered is the executioner.
Long now has to step up his game if he wants to stop the killings. He visits Mrs. Revelstoke to warn her about the other murders. While he is there he meets her secretary Nora Sanders (Karin Dor) and is smitten. Long gives Nora a ride to see Monkford to check on him and to allow Nora to give him a birthday present from Mrs. Revelstoke. On the way they check on Crayley. After leaving Crayley’s place someone once again tries to shoot Long. Then that night Monkford’s twin brother gets murdered. All three, Monkford, Crayley and Revelstoke have planned on going to Little Heartsease for golf week. Nora will be going too. Long is now busy trying to keep the remaining potential murder victims alive and wooing Nora while trying to find out who is responsible for the murders. His options are that Shelton is really alive or that a ghost is murdering people.
“The Terrible People” AKA “Die Bande des Schreckens” AKA “The Band of Terror” was released in 1960 and was directed by Harald Reinl. It is a West German crime thriller and was based on Edgar Wallace's 1926 novel of the same name.
The movie is a little busy with subplots that deal with blackmail, bank fraud and an attempt at stealing an inheritance. None of which really get resolved but are mostly there to add some twists and turns while waving some red herrings in the air. Also included is the ghostly apparition of Shelton holding up a claw-like “Gallows hand” right after each victim is snuffed out. The movie also makes a point of saying that Shelton always worked alone in his evil enterprises which turns out to be far from the truth.
Despite the plot deviances, some of which are a little farfetched, the movie is not a bad krimi. The despicable Shelton is quite creepy and gives a strange other worldly look to the movie. Joachim Fuchsberger, who plays Inspector Long, is one of my favorite krimi good guys. Karin Dor is wonderful as the innocent Nora and Long’s love interest. Eddi Arent is not bad as Anthony Edwards, the comic relief crime photographer who faints at the sight of blood. As one of the first in the subgenre it is what will become your all around standard krimi.
In the movie Inspector Long tells Nora that his nick name is Blacky. Joachim Fuchsberger’s nick name actually was Blacky. Apparently the nick name came from his preference for Black & White Whiskey. Fuchsberger would go on to play in at least a dozen krimis.