Sir Cyrus Bradley (Hans Paetsch) is a millionaire living in the British countryside.  He receives a note from a mastermind who calls himself ‘The Tortoise’ telling him to fork over a million Pounds or he will be murdered at nine P.M.  The threat is accompanied by a real live tortoise with a skull painted on its shell.  Sir Bradley tells his nephew, Donald ‘Don’ Micklem (Gotz George) about the threat.  Don wants to go to the police, but his uncle refuses.  Don posts his friend, Harry Mason (Hans Clarin), outside the estate to keep an eye on things.

Promptly at nine a messenger arrives at the estate to pick up the money.  He is given a package with random paper inside instead of cash.  Harry follows the messenger who ends up in an accident due to someone stringing a rope across the road.  The package is stolen. 

Back at the estate, Sir Bradley is killed by a knife throwing assassin, Shapiro (Klaus Kinski).  Harry manages to track down Shapiro at The Polson Hotel.  Don notifies, Inspector Dickes (Heinz Reincke), at Scotland Yard.  The hotel is searched.  Shapiro escapes, but Don meets Laura Lorelli (Hildegard Knef).  Don ends up following Laura.  Laura leads him to Marchese Mario Orlandi di Alsconi (Richard Munch), better known in some circles as The Tortoise.        

“Mark of the Tortoise” AKA “Wartezimmer zum Jenseits” or “Waiting Room to the Beyond” was released in 1964 and was directed by Alfred Vohrer.  It is a West German crime thriller and a krimi.

Krimis have a tendency to twist themselves into knots to justify their titles.  Outside of the tortoise with a skull and crossbones painted on its shell that pops up from time to time, and the evil marquis being referred to once or twice as the Green Tortoise, the title has nothing to do with the movie.  Even the German title has no relevance in the plot of the film and sounds more like the title of a Lovecraft or Dean Koontz film.

People make the mistake of thinking that this is not a krimi because it is not based on an Edgar Wallace story.  Only 32 of the 71 identified krimis were based on Wallace’s works.  The confusion may be in part due to the fact that the film doesn’t follow all of the krimi tropes.  It does have a silly title, Klaus Kinski, blackmail and a comic relief sidekick but most krimis are more fanciful plot wise than this film.  This one is a little calmer and not as farfetched or as complicated some of them. 

The film reacts more like a James Bond movie than a krimi, including several Bond style tropes.  The antagonist is a blond wheelchair bound evil villain whose chair sports dual machine guns that he operates while wearing fashionable sunglasses.  He sits in front of an array of buttons and dials controlling everything in his estate.  The house of which contains secret panels and a futuristic underground labyrinth of corridors and rooms with death traps.

It may not have all the tropes of the standard krimi, but it was still interesting and a nice look at what James Bond films may have looked like if they had been produced by West Germany instead of Britain. 

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