Madmen of Mandoras


Year 1963 (?)

Walter Stocker   as  Phil Day
Audrey Caire as Kathy Day
Carlos Rivas as Camino/Teo
Nestor Paiva as Police Chief Alaniz  
 
Director - David Bradley
Screenwriter - Richard Miles
Original Story - Steve Bennett

Filmed in the 1950s, this one didn't eat itself out of the film can until 1963, hence the "(?)" next to the date.

An expanded version of this was shown on television as, They Saved Hitler's Brain (which has to make a Top Ten List of ludicrous movie titles). Hoo-boy! How bad is it? It's better than most Saturday afternoon serials, believe it or not.

The plot? Hitler's head is still alive on the island of Mandoras and has ordered his guys to release a deadly nerve gas upon the world. But, seeing as he's a benevolent crackpot, he orders some of his people to kidnap the gas inventor and get the antidote formula from him first.

I mean, what good would the world be if all the Nazis died, too? Huh? Computer game development would come to a standstill, that's what.

I've to tell you, I was expecting competition to Manos and Creeping. But, the plot isn't completely linear, the acting isn't always bad, nighttime usually looks like nighttime, the sound track is pleasant, and the special effects are usually passable.

The worst special effect can be seen when characters are shown riding in cars. The rear window is black and the "car" bounces as if it were a mechanical bull. On dirt roads, this is acceptable. On paved roads, it's funny.

You could tell that the actors wanted to do a good job. There're no stage style deliveries. Even the guy who plays Hitler's head isn't too over the top. (Get it? Over the top? He's a head? Nevermind.)

There are some pretty rapid jumps for plot development and a lot of scenes that make you scratch your head. But, there are some good little attempts to be something more than schlock that prevent me from being unnecessarily cruel.

There's use of stock footage, but in one instance, it was actually educational. Before this movie, I'd never seen film of Hitler's bunker immediately after the capture of Berlin. The events leading up to this were nonsense, but the footage was a miniature history lesson.

Well, let's get on with the goofy stuff. Professor Coleman developed the most deadly nerve gas ever, ever, ever! A canister of this stuff kills everything up to seven-hundred-fifty miles away. Seven-hundred-fifty miles! If I was in Chicago with a wind from the west, I could wipe out the entire population of New York, Philadelphia, etc. and the Bears would win against the NFC East by default. If it wasn't for the fact that this could never happen it's not a bad plot device.

There are lots of instructive examples of things I didn't know.

So why isn't this a true bottom feeder? Well, there's the Chief of Police of the, apparently, only city on the island. He's trying to be the Captain Renault character from Casablanca and almost pulls it off when he says, "I always do what I am told, usually."

There's the café which is reminiscent of Rick's Place from Casablanca, complete with Nazis. Although it isn't Casablanca, the imitation is indeed flattery in this movie. The shootout that occurs there is also, for a low rent movie, remarkably well done.

Besides Piece of Chaleaf Tinkler, uh, Alaniz, what about the rest of the cast? The nerve gas inventor does a pretty good job of not overacting. The same can't be said of his assistant. The assistant, the inventor's son-in-law, reminded me of The Professor from Gilligan's Island, only without The Professor's panache.

The inventor's older daughter is attractive in a Donna Reed kind of way, but she overacts. She's at her best being hysterical. The inventor's younger daughter is too old to be the cute young ditz she's cast as. She's not all that cute, either.

Hitler's head, complete with brain, shouts a lot and sneers. The actor doesn't convey any sense of leadership, just insanity and scorn. Remember, Hitler was a leader, so he must have had a pretty commanding presence.

A thought that kept popping into my brain was, "How does this compare to Boys from Brazil?" That one was a big budget production with credible actors like Gregory Peck and Sir Lawrence Olivier, but I think it had a similar plot about using science to allow Hitler to be around in a modern world. How absurd, then, could the premise of Madmen really be?

Chick flick potential? Considering its display of 1950s women as housewives, this could be an anti-chick flick. I only heard one gasp of blasphemy. There's no nudity. The worst expanse of skin is a low cut blouse on a "belly dancer". (Nice jape, by the way, from Kathy Day about the dancer who's gotten her husband's attention, "Darling, if she asks you to dance, you'd better not.")

From what I gather, avoid They Saved Hitler's Brain because they added twenty minutes of fluff to pad it for television. Stick with the original Madmen of Mandoras.


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