Friday, May 7, 2010

Mad Executioners (1963)

Movie trailers are suppose to make you want to see a film. The trailer for this film, with its image of a hooded high court, had me trying to track this film down for several years before I found it on DVD. When I found it I found that I wasn't disappointed.

A band of hooded men have formed a court and they are exacting justice upon the criminals who have escaped the reach of the law. The sentence they exact is death by hanging. Using the hangman's rope from the Scotland Yard Museum they leave their victims hanging from various locations with a file detailing the case against them pinned to the body. Scotland Yard is stumped and have assigned their best man to break the case. Meanwhile another fiend is on the loose, one who is neatly severing the heads of young women. The bodies are found the heads are not.

Made in Germany as part of the Edgar/Bryan Wallace series that ran through out the 1960's this is an atmospheric popcorn movie. This neat little thriller is based on Bryan Edgar Wallace's book The White Carpet. I'm not sure how much of the story is there or how much has been changed but whats on the screen is a really diversion. Say what you will about a plot that has two halves that really don't belong together, the movie manages to keep them both interesting. The film is heavy on mood and atmosphere with the dark night time photography making what ever German city this was filmed in seem like London in the fog. The look of the court of the "Executioner of London" is suitably creepy especially with all of the men decked out in black hooded robes (shots of the court in the trailer are what drew me to the film). The solution is probably not something you're going to work out completely, then again you really won't care since the film moves along at such a good clip it just carries you along.

If there is any flaw in the film its that the two halves of the story never really seem to belong together. Its not giving anything away to say that the plot threads to cross but its a bit too neat and makes it feel almost contrived.

Highly recommended for those dark and stormy nights or afternoons when you want to slip away into the foggy streets of London

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