Saturday, June 8, 2013

Louise Brooks and the Vampire of Dusseldorf

Recently, I wrote about a new novel coming out in softcover in the UK which features Louise Brooks on the cover. That book is The Killing of Emma Gross, by Damien Seaman; it has been published in the UK as a paperback and as an ebook in June 2013. The book is also available in the United States.

This new novel is based on the true story of notorious serial killer Peter Kürten and the unsolved murder of Düsseldorf prostitute Emma Gross. The Killing of Emma Gross is a historical thriller, a police procedural set in Weimar Republic-era Germany. Here is the publisher description:

"Dusseldorf prostitute Emma Gross has been murdered and the police have charged Peter Kurten, the 'Vampire of Dusseldorf', the first man ever to be called a serial killer. Murderer, yes, but did he commit this particular crime? The arresting officer, Thomas Klein, thinks not, even though Kurten has confessed. These are the dying days of Weimar Germany, the police force is increasingly divided between right and left. It is a dangerous time. Klein thinks that the real killer is somewhat closer to home. Yet the only people who can help him include a Communist journalist, Gross's friends, and others in the underworld who hate the police. This is a novel of obsession set in the wild days of Weimar, doomed to end with the Nazi takeover."

Peter Kürten was a notorious figure in his day. So much so he was nicknamed the Vampire of Dusseldorf. Kürten, reportedly, inspired the murderer played by Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang's M.

Reading up on Kürten, I discovered he has also been the subject of a handful of books, as well as songs (of the heavy metal / goth rock variety), and inspired characters in other works of fiction. There was also a 1965 movie made about his life called The Vampire of Dusseldorf. Directed, written, and starring Robert Hossein, the film is alternately titled The Secret Killer.

I haven't yet seen the film, but the other day I came across a still of one of the actresses in the 1965 film. It may be Marie-France Pisier. Whoever she is, she has striking resemblance to Louise Brooks.

It's just a strange, kinda creepy, coincidence which also makes me wonder what is it about this feminine type and serial killers? Has it something to do with lustmord? The character of Lulu, played by Brooks, was killed by Jack the Ripper in Frank Wedekind's play and G.W. Pabst film of Pandora's Box. [Thanks to Mark Hodgson and his blog, Black Hole Reviews, for calling attention to the Vampire of Dusseldorf film. UPDATE: the actress pictured above is not Marie-France Pisier. Perhaps it is Tanya Lopert? If anyone knows, please post in the comments field.]

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