Dark Echoes (1977) is a zombie/horror movie directed by George Robotham and starring Karin Dor and Joel Fabiani. It was shot on location in Yugoslavia and Austria, but the movie is in English. The plot centers around the zombie captain of a sunken ship, bent on vengeance against those who blamed him for the sinking, and the American psychic (Fabiani) and the local journalist (Dor) who try to stop him.

Plot Edit

Over 100 years ago, an excursion boat named "Adler" sank mysteriously in a huge Austrian lake. Although the wreck, and thus the cause of the sinking, was never found and there were no survivors or witnesses, a board of inquiry put the blame on the captain, Manfred Gohr. Since then it has been rumored that one the day the captain, a proud and arrogant man, will some day return and seek revenge for being blamed for the sinking... Therefore the inhabitants of he small village next to the lake won't venture anywhere near the area called "Death Hole" where they suspect the wreck must be located.

Until one day two foolish fishermen go there anyway and, inevitably, - and unintentionally - unleash the captain's ghost as well as his wrath, and pay for it with their lives. After that, the sleepy village ceases to be the peaceful and uneventful place it had been until now...

Enter the local police, represented by Inspector Woelke, who doesn't believe in ghosts, yet also doesn't take long - especially after another killing, this time of a young girl - to realize that he is out of his depths (literally!), so he sends for help. Bill Cross ( Joel Fabiani ) is an American psychic traveling in Europe (as well as a self-professed ski and tennis bum, and a consumer of large amounts of dry martinis), who can see into the past - and sometimes also the future - connected to objects that he touches. He has helped the police several times before and is an acquaintance of the inspector's. So, after getting the message and having a vision of the dead fishermen, he travels to the village, having met the college kid Dieter on the way.

Here, Bill Cross teams up with the inspector and the local journalist Lisa (Karin Dor) to stop the killings. Inspector Woelke still refuses to believe in ghosts, the dead captain's or anyone else's, and Lisa is sceptical too, yet she helps Bill research Captain Gohr's files in the local archives. Bill realizes that she is actually a descendant of one of the men on the board of inquiry that blamed the captain for the sinking. She dismisses his concerns... for the moment.

The zombie captain strikes again and kills a young woman - who, as Bill realizes, was another descendant of a board member, just like the girl who was killed before. He gives the inspector a list with the remaining family names - and since Lisa is on it, Bill has a guard posted outside her home. That guard, however, proves no match for the (un)dead captain, who is coming for Lisa that very night. However, Bill shows up in time and the zombie retreats, leaving his work unfinished and the dead guard behind in Lisa's stead.

Bill and Lisa set out to see Frau Ziemler, an old recluse who, depending on who you ask, may or may not be a real witch, but who certainly might know something about Captain Gohr and his family. Dieter the college kid, who knows her, introduces them, but she refuses to help them, claiming she doesn't know anything. Bill, however, has a vision of a ceremony in a hidden cave. She realizes that Bill is a psychic, and when he and Lisa are gone, she warns Dieter to "be careful when you are around that man... Don't even THINK about tonight when you're near him!"

That very night, Bill and Lisa find the cave he saw in his vision, and they become witnesses to a strange ceremony headed by Frau Ziemler and attended by many young people from the village, including Dieter and his girl friend. At one point, one of the girls is abducted by an unseen attacker (the captain strikes again!), but Bill manages to rescue her: however, the zombie gets away again, leaving behind only a piece of cloth in the hand of the girl he attacked (who is another descendant of a board member).

When Bill and Lisa show the piece of fabric to the inspector, he concedes that it is really old, yet still can't bring himself to accept the idea of a zombie walking around killing people. Both he and Lisa still insist that "whoever attacked that poor girl tonight was REAL". Bill, meanwhile, has another vision that makes him realize the connection between Frau Ziemler and Captain Gohr, so the next day he pays her another visit. He confronts her and she acknowledges the connection, and this time, reluctantly, tells him what he needs to know. Later she appears in his hotel room and warns him that "there is much danger around now". He says he knows that, yet she replies, "yes, but you don't know it well enough!". He counters that there is danger for her too, and she agrees, yet dismisses it at the same time (she is a real witch, after all).

Ignoring her warnings - and Lisa's concerns - Bill goes on a diving expedition in the lake, in search of the wreck and the captain. He manages to find the wreck nobody had located before, and (just like the viewer) finally comes fully face to face (or rather, face to skull) with Captain Gohr (or what's left of him) for the first time - and barely survives the encounter. When Bill goes limp, the captain leaves him for dead, and the half-conscious Bill drifts to the surface, where he is rescued by Lisa and the two police officers Garth and Brown. When Bill tells Inspector Woelke what happened, the inspector asks him if he actually SAW Gohr, and Bill replies, "only for a second... but it was a second I'd rather forget!"

The inspector sends Officer Garth as well as Dieter (the only two other divers around) to accompany Bill on a second expedition to the wreck, intent on catching the zombie. This trip proves fatal for Garth, yet provides them with a new lead, by means of the piece of uniform that Garth tore off the zombie before he was killed by him. Bill has a vision of the captain being headed for Frau Ziemler's place, so he, Lisa, the inspector and the journalist Stanhope rush to her cabin, while Brown and Dieter take Garth's body back to town.

The zombie indeed shows up at Frau Ziemler's for a memorable encounter, yet is already gone by the time the search party gets there. They follow him to the ruins of a castle, which the inspector radios in to Brown at headquarters (overheard by Dieter). Whereupon Brown and some auxiliary policemen join Bill, Lisa, the inspector and Stanhope at the castle ruins. While they are searching for him, the captain gets the drop on Lisa and tries to finish her off this time (and comes close), yet once more can't finish the job, and the elusive zombie escapes again.

However, based on what Lisa tells Bill and the inspector about the attack, combined with clues picked up at Frau Ziemler's, Bill figures out the zombie's weakness ("My knife didn't slow him down, and neither will your bullets - but a mirror stops him cold!"). Meanwhile, Dieter has recruited some of his friends, and they show up, ready to join the communal ghost hunt, but the inspector rejects their help. Yet Bill seizes the opportunity and sends them to get as many mirrors as they can from the nearby farms.

These indeed prove an effective weapon when they finally have trapped the captain against a cliff, and finally Gohr plummets to his (2nd) death... leaving the question whether he'll stay dead this time or not. The inspector is convinced they will recover the body, but Bill replies, "IF you recover it!", and Lisa shares Bill's doubts... (leaving room for a sequel that sadly was never made).

Cast Edit

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • The original title for the film is Potmuli Odjeci, which translates as Dark Echo. It is also known by the title A Maldiocao de Ghor.
  • Released in Yugoslavia in 1986, also in several South American countries, as well as in Japan.

Recommendations Edit

See also Edit

External Links Edit

References Edit

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