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Explore the Mad Mind of Carl Von Cosel

Apr 09, 2016

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

Sure, it’s hard to pass up a film that promises puppetry and necrophilia, but there are other reasons to head over to Kick starter and back this new documentary project from Morbid Anatomy Museum film maker 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.