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Code 7 Victim 5! BluRay Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

Review of the Code 7, Victim 5 (aka "Code 7 Victim 5!") BluRay release by Blue Underground, a double feature with Mozambique (read a separate review here).

Code 7 Victim 5

Former POW Wexler (Walter Rilla) has built a mining empire for himself in South Africa. When his confidante and butler is stabbed during a street parade, he calls in Steve Martin (Lex Barker) from New York, a renowned private eye, to investigate. Right from the start, Martin suspects Wexler is not telling him the full story, so he digs deeper, enlisting the services of Wexler’s pretty secretary Gina (Ann Smyrner) and his niece Helga (Veronique Vendell), who seems to wrap every man on the Wexler ranch around her fingers, including the Doctor Paul (Dietmar Schoenherr). Inspector Lean (Ronald Fraser) of the local police is a funny little guy. He seems to be more concerned chasing every tail in cape town than solving the crime, but it turns out in his own way he is quite an effective strategist. Together they uncover the truth behind the murder, and Wexler’s past….

The 60s were a great time to go to the movies. The screen was busy with movies of all stripes, wherever you lived there were a range of movie theatres to visit, and the post-war economic boom still meant that if you had some kind of decent job you had realistic ambitions to live a great life. No wonder then that, especially in Europe, movies with exotic locations, fast cars, nice girls and exciting adventures were super successful. Westerns raked in all the main stream cash, but there was a slow and steady output of international crime fix, and “EuroSpyJames Bond clones or even Mondo movies for the shadier theaters (in Germany usually located within train stations). Code 7 Victim 5! is one of those exciting international crime flicks, a movie that promises car chases, sharks, shoot outs, detectives, pretty babes and the beach of Cape Town. How exciting!

Code 7 Victim 5

Lex Barker stars in this mainly British production as a private investigator called in to solve a crime that we see take place almost in the style of a James Bond opening sequence (Spectre anyone) during some sort of carnival. His so-so sidekick becomes Ronald Fraser, who plays a funny little Southafrican copper. The two work well together, but whereas Fraser gives a full on character performance, Barker’s throughout the movie is mostly timid and a bit distant. I wonder though if he is really to blame, as the script is atrocious, and a lot of what you see happening is of questionable logic or realism. It fit the entire picture then of the kind of movie that lures with all kinds of cherries on top, but lacks substance or quality. The shark scene will make you cringe, it’s so bad. What the movie offers is the exotic location and everything that you might associate with that. The soundtrack is alright as well, but again and again, you’re left to wonder how little effort director Robert Lynn put into it maybe. He also directed Mozambique (which accompanies this double feature BluRay) and worked as assistant director for two of the Superman movies.

Code 7 Victim 5

Speaking of assistant directors, one of the most interesting aspects of this movie is that the cinematography can be credited to none other than Nicholas Roeg (The Man who Fell to Earth, Don’t Look now!), a prolific filmmaker who mostly worked on other people’s stuff, but he knew his way around lights and camera, and it really shows. Code 7 Victim 5! looks like a big budget adventure movie, it captures the scenery and the action, the dances, shootouts, caves and so on. The movie was written and produced by another household name: Harry Alan Towers (again under pseudonym). He produced a ll kinds of exploitation flicks, for example those by Jess Franco. But is it an exploitation movie? Absolutely. There’s nothing much dirty about this, but it’s a skillful exploitation of audience expectations and cheap thrills. They got the most out of “scenery and babes” and threw in a few punches to make it all work together. For the German audiences, Dietmar Schönherr (also in Mozambique, famous for Starship Orion or the Ernst Hofbauer western Die schwarzen Adler von Santa Fe) added a welcome celebrity face in addition to Barker, who is most famous for his Winnetou Westerns. Why he never got to play James bond I really don’t know.

Code 7 Victim 5

The BluRay contains both movies on one disc (both are short, so maybe that's why) without any extras other than the Trailers (a shame, as there are extras out there that might've been worth including). The transfer is great, aside from some dirt and faded parts the movie looks stunning, bright, colorful and contrast-rich. The audio track (only English offered) sounds decent, as well, with occasional hisses present but overall a satisfying presentation. It's great to experience this movie not as a run down TV recording but a remastered version that looks better than it might have looked a few weeks into its theatrical run.

All in all, it's an entertaining little 60s flick with some decent production value, interesting people and magnificent scenery. The script is ... ok let's leave it at that, and the acting is mediocre, but what you get is an ambitious 60s crime flick that takes you do the beaches of South Africa, and a few ladies in bikinis. Not a bad deal. Please continue reading my review of Mozambique.

Special thanks to Blue Underground for providing the BluRay, and thanks to bluray.com for taking helpful screenshots (they are from the DVD though!).

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Sebastian, co-founder and admin of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb). He also started The Spaghetti Western Database (SWDb), The Quentin Tarantino Archives, The Robert Rodriguez Archives, Nischenkino and Furious Cinema. Outside of movies, he works on the intersection of technology and policy. He lives in Berlin, Germany.
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