Every Saturday in August, Brennan Klein will be subbing in for Summer of Blood by exploring a German krimi film from the 1960's.

When last we left the German krimi, it was just being birthed upon an unsuspecting world in 1959's Fellowship of the Frog. Now we shall alight in 1964, smack dab in the height of the genre. In the intervening years no fewer than 35 Edgar Wallace adaptations had hit the international stage. Though the Italians would truly perfect the lurid title with their subsequent giallo films, some of the titles we're skipping over are too potent to ignore: The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. MabuseThe Devil's DaffodilDead Eyes of LondonSecret of the Red Orchid, and The Carpet of Horror all shocked German audiences in the interim.

Our stop today is the 1964 Zimmer 13 aka Room 13, which reteams Fellowship of the Frog director Harald Reinl with star Joachim Fuchsberger. It tells the tale of a series of crimes and murders taking place in and around London's Highlow Club, a burlesque joint where gangsters run the back rooms. Primarily it's the story of Joe Legge (Richard Häussler), a crime boss who has just returned to town and is planning the train heist of the century. He needs somewhere to store the stolen goods, so he's blackmailing the nobleman Sir Marney (Walter Rilla) because of something that happened Twenty Years Ago...

He's also threatening the life of Marney's daughter Denise (Karin Dor), whose mother died Twenty Years Ago... On the case is inspector Johnny Gray (Fuchsberger), who of course also falls in love with Denise, because what's a 37-year-old man starring in a movie to do when confronted with somebody 11 years his junior after a meet-cute that involves him almost shooting her point blank?

Oh, and also somebody with a straight razor is slashing up women from the club whenever they get the chance, though pretty much everyone involved seems perplexed by this development.

Room 13 is a peculiar beast for many reasons, but it especially leans into the blending of genres already present in Fellowship of the Frog. The convoluted rhythms of its plot slide giddily between murder mystery red herrings, the slow Rebecca-esque reveal of Sir and Lady Marney's past, and Ocean's 11 planning sessions. It even throws a dash of absurd comic relief in there for good measure.

This is mostly centered around the absolutely peculiar character of Dr. Higgins (Eddi Arent), a socially inept bumbler who seems to be working double duty for the Scotland Yard, performing autopsies and other medical duties on top of inventing new fun spy gadgets for them to play with. He's Rain Man, James Bond's Q, and CSI's entire team rolled into one. Oh, and he's in love with a mannequin named Emily who he talks to all the time... Look, your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not this would have been unusual for German comedies of the time, but it certainly is in 2019 America.

But among the many things that Room 13 is, the proto-slasher rises chiefly among them. The death-by-razor scenes still take a backseat to sleuthing and general derring-do, but when they arrive it certainly becomes clear how much these movies influenced the giallo. The killer is seen only as a disembodied hand (an obvious precursor to the Italian black-gloved killer), and though these films have not yet embraced outré slasher setpieces, there is a gore gag involving a woman's neck spraying a jet of blood against a curtain that is as artful as it is disturbing.

This plotline never entirely comes together with the main criminal plot, save for their taking place in the vicinity of one another, but it does provide the film its most shocking twist. I shall not reveal the identity of the killer here because I do recommend you go on ahead and check out this movie, but I shall simply say that Room 13 stands head to head with some of the most ridiculous (and problematic) motive reveals of the 80's.

While the slasher elements are especially pronounced this time around, there is also no denying that this movie's crime sequences have shaken off the occasional doldrums of Fellowship of the Frog. These scenes are frothy fun packed with a grab bag of favorite tropes including cars that secretly dispense sleeping gas, people watching each other from behind newspapers, and Nancy Drew antics while escaping locked rooms.

This is all great fun, and the material that shines brightest is still in the scenes where the slapdash German understanding of British culture slips away from reality for a brief moment. When a dancer in a skimpy negligee is killed onstage at the club (graciously providing us with the aforementioned blood spray), we find out that she was an undercover vice agent because "she's wearing the official underwear of the Scotland Yard!"

Needless to say, Room 13 is ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in the best way possible. You yourself will know best if your tastes extend to a bizarre Frankensteinian abomination that combines altogether too many genres albeit with vigor and aplomb. But if that sounds like your wheelhouse, make this film a priority. Although it deserves a more distinctive title, it could hardly be a more idiosyncratic and delightful motion picture.

Body Count: 11; 4 by razor (one of which is self-inflicted), 7 by gunshot.

Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. You can find his other work on his Dread Central column applying film school theory to silly horror movies, and his blog Popcorn Culture where among other movie reviews, he is running through every slasher film of the 1980’s. Also check out his podcasts, Scream 101, where he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror franchises, and Attack of the Queerwolf!, an LGBTQ discussion of horror classics that he produces for the Blumhouse Podcast Network.