Documentary to Explore the Mad Mind of Carl Von Cosel

Proposed documentary will explore the morbid obsession of Carl Von Cosel with the dead girl he stole from the grave.

View the Kickstarter campaign right here.

Sure, it’s hard to pass up a film that promises puppetry and necrophilia, but there are other reasons to head over to Kickstarter and back this new documentary project from Morbid Anatomy Museum filmmaker in residence Ronni Thomas, creator of Fragments of Faith, Ghosts and Gadgets, The Art of Ryan Matthew Cohn and other fascinating short films. I can’t think of anyone I would rather see take on the bizarre legend of the doctor who carried on a seven year relationship with a dead girl he exhumed from the grave.

German immigrant Karl Tanzler, otherwise known as Count Carl Von Cosel, was working as a radiologic technologist at a hospital in Key West, Florida in 1930 when he met Elena Hoyos. Her mother brought her in for an examination, which eventually concluded she had tuberculosis. Cosel, who believed he had earlier vision of the Cuban-American beauty, befriended the family and attempted to treat Elena with his own self-professed medical knowledge to no avail. She died the following year, and was interred in the Key West Cemetery in a tomb Cosel commissioned himself.

Cosel visited the tomb often, claiming her spirit would visit him and tell him to take her away. So, nearly two years after her death, Cosel broke into the tomb and stole Elena’s corpse. For the next seven years he would keep her in his bed, replacing rotting skin with wax, silk, and plaster of paris, until Elena’s sister discovered her body in Cosel’s home in 1940.

But, as Ronni Thomas puts it, the most interesting thing about this story is the fact that those disturbing details are the least interesting thing about this story. Von Cosel spent years experimenting with science, alchemy, and ancient mysticism in hopes of resurrecting his beloved.

Carl Von Cosel with Elena Hoyos

No Place for the Living

From the press release:

NO PLACE FOR THE LIVING will feature experts including Key West historians, authorities on the occult, artists and psychologists to provide insight into Von Cosel’s story as it connects to the age old conflict between science and spirituality that has absorbed mankind to this very day. Taking inspiration from the poetic dreamscapes of filmmakers like Tim Burton and David Lynch, Thomas will tell the Ed Wood-Like story of Carl Von Cosel and his sensational tale of macabre matrimony with the help of artfully made puppets used to reenact key moments of his life, as described in detail in Von Cosel’s own published journal.

“Puppetry is the art of animating the inanimate, making it the perfect approach for a story like this,” said Thomas. “Von Cosel not only pulled the strings on a physical corpse he was trying to reanimate, but metaphorically he pulled everyone’s strings, manipulating Hoyos’ family, the justice system, even public opinion.”

Working alongside Thomas to bring this story to life are puppeteer Robin Frohardt, special FX designer Shane Morton and his Silver Scream FX lab, and composer Stephen Coates (lead singer, The Real Tuesday Weld). Among our list of specialists who have jumped to the occasion to discuss this captivating window into the wayward are true crime author Harold Schechter, occult expert Mitch Horowitz, TV’s ODDITIES co-star Evan Michaelson, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead frontman Conrad Keely, and author of Von Cosel’s biography, Tom Swicegood. The film will feature narration from Von Cosel’s journal read by celebrated indie filmmaker Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL).

Carl Von Cosel documentary by Morbid Anatomy filmmaker Ronni Thomas

If you are as excited to see this project become a reality as I am, you can support the Kickstarter campaign right here.

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