Friday, 3 February 2017

Werner Pochath: a tribute to a favourite actor

 One of my absolute favourite images - Werner Pochath with the equally great Franco Nero, 1980.

Sadly an almost forgotten talent, the late great Werner Pochath is one of my favourite actors. Criminally underrated and usually unfairly dubbed ‘the poor man’s Klaus Kinski’ (though of course Kinski is a brilliant actor, Pochath also is in his own right), his intensity and unique, instantly recognisable face always was a bonus even to the worst of cinematic material.
 Young Pochath

Born Werner Pochlatko in 1939 in Vienna, Austria, Pochath first appeared in the public eye as a youth figure skating champion of his homeland.  His thespian career began in both stage and television productions in 1959, and Pochath worked steadily in these fields until his 1967 film debut in the German crime drama Der Tod eines Dopplegangers. Movie offers also came quickly to the gifted young star after relocating to Rome in 1968. Often cast as ruthless, psychopathic villains, Pochath was a popular casting choice for low-budget European horror, exploitation and action directors. His trademark ruthless sadists can be viewed in Ferdinando Baldi’s Terror Express, The Shark Hunter by Enzo G. Castellari, Lucio Fulci’s Challenge to White Fang, and, although it’s one of Jess Franco’s least distinguished titles, it’s still nice to see Pochath chewing up the scenery – The Devil Hunter. He also had smaller but memorable roles in Dario Argento’s  Cat O’Nine Tails and Riccardo Freda’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire.
Pochath as one of the thugs in the Last House on the Left cash-in Terror Express

What is possibly Pochath’s finest hour is his tremendous portrayal of the ‘The Vampire of Nuremberg’, Kuno Hofmann, in the disturbing 1977 real-life based horror Mosquito der Schander, aka Bloodlust. His role as the deaf-mute, blood drinking murderer is truly haunting, grim and unsettling. In the hands of a lesser actor the film would have most likely been little more than an exploitative mess, but Pochath manages to elevate the material to another level.
Pochath as the real-life 'Vampire of Nuremberg' Kuno Hofmann in Mosquito der Schander

Throughout the 1980s Pochath was appearing in more and more titles with unfortunately nil redeeming features, such as the horrendous Ratman and Cop Game. Tragically diagnosed with AIDS, Pochath mostly resigned from acting to become a casting directer under the name ‘Paul Werner’ though he still accepted the occasional film role. He passed away on April 18, 1993, at the age of 51 in the arms of his long-term partner John Neumeier, ballet director of the Hamburg State Opera. A greatly missed actor who always managed to shine no matter what he appeared in, Pochath’s legacy will hopefully live on for many more years via dedicated Eurocult film fans.     

**P.S. If anyone has or knows where I can find ANY interviews with Pochath, please let me know!**

Werner Pochath in Mosquito Der Schander


  1. Excellent article on this underappreciated actor. After seeing him steal all the scenes in Antonio Margheriti's Vengeance (1968), I tried to find out about him on the Internet but didn't find very much. So thank you for providing some much needed info on this talented actor.

  2. Many thanks, Christina, I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)