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An island in the middle of a swampy lake, connected to the mainland
only by a small ferry that actually has to be pulled by hand: The old
ferryman (Karl Platen) has just died, and now none of the locals is
willing to take his job, because of many a creepy rumour surrounding the
man's death. But there's Maria (Sybille Schmitz), a young woman with no
papers and nowhere to go, and who is not familiar with the local
superstitions, and she is tricked into accepting the job - and somehow she
likes it, too. One day, she picks up a young wounded man (Aribert Mog) on
the mainland who's on the run from some soldiers. She takes him to the
island, attentd to his wounds, and before she knows it, she has fallen in
love with him.
Eventually, a man in black (Peter Voss) comes to the
island who might be a gouvernment official but might also be death
himself, and he has come looking for the young man. He frightens the
heebiegeebies out of her, but she doesn't give away but provides him with
one false lead after the next, which ultimately leads to a creepy dance
sequence on the village square, and eventually she leads him through the
moors, where he takes one false step and sinks to his death.
the menace of the man in black, Maria returns to her young man, they take
the ferry to the mainland and walk into a bright future, to never again
An impressively shot and extremely atmospheric dark
fairy tale that succeeds in creating its other-worldly world based on only
a few locations and a very moody directorial effort. However, while the
film is big on atmosphere, it is somewhat heavy-handed and pretentious on
a narrative level, where it several times almost loses its simplistic
story in its dead-serious approach. In fact, when Frank Wisbar a decade
later semi-remade this film in the USA as a straight horror film, Strangler
of the Swamp, for low budget production house PRC,
that turned out to be the better film.
Still, worth a look at least!