Mad Love Reviews
A mad scientist falls in love with an actress of a local play. Unfortunately, the actress is married to a traveling musician and intends on leaving the play and town. The pianist is in an unfortunate accident and loses his hands and the only person who can save him is the mad scientist. The scientist gives him hands that work, but they're the hands of a killer. The hands will make him start killing hopefully leading to the pianist getting locked up and the scientist getting the girl...but nothing ever goes as planned for mad scientists!
"I've been meeting you in my dreams all of my life."
Karl Freund, director of The Mummy, Dracula (Bela Lugosi), The Countess of Monte Cristo, Uncertain Lady, Gift of Gab, and I Give My Love, delivers Mad Love. The storyline for this picture is compelling and contains fantastic characters. The villain was depicted perfectly and the script, backdrops, and costumes and make-up were perfect. The cast delivers splendid performances and includes Peter Lorre, Frances Drakes, Colin Clive, Ted Healey, Sara Haden, and Keye Luke.
"I'm afraid we'll have to amputate."
I DVR'd this off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this past holiday season and was excited to watch this Lorre masterpiece. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and thought he played the villain masterfully. This is a classic gem that belong on TCMs annual rotation and is borderline worth adding to your classic collection if you're a fan of the genre.
"That would probably cause him to...commit murder himself..."
This film is more fleshed out than the 1924 original, and features some spectacular performances by Peter Lorre and the beautiful Frances Drake. The film is full of suspense and mystery and delivers some really creepy parts via Lorre's character and his obsession with Ms. Drake's character Yvonne Orlac. He keeps a wax mannequin of her around so that he can comfortably confess his love or whatever.
The film centers around Dr. Gogol (Lorre) who longs for the affections of Yvonne (Drake). Yvonne is married to a composer and pianist named Steven Orlac. At least he was a pianist before being injured in a train wreck where his hands were completely destroyed. Dr. Gogol, at the request of Yvonne, performs a groundbreaking hand transplant surgery on her husband. Unfortunately the hands used during the procedure are that of a killer...and they still want blood.
If you aren't really familiar with older, suspenseful, tasteful, horror films I suggest that you go out and pick up this movie. You will not be disappointed. The sets are fantastic, the acting is superb, the story is fleshed out just enough for you to really be able to sink your teeth into it. This has to be one of the greatest horror films of all time.
This movie is getting the coveted 10 out of 10 rating. This film is perfect. The delivery is up there with any other horror film and it is dark, brooding and just plain creepy. It shows that you don't need gore or great special effects to make an amazing horror movie.
Each man kills the thing he loves
directed by Karl Freund
written by John L. Balderston, Guy Endore
starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sara Haden
Enjoining Grand Guignol ?The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? and Bernard Shaw?s ?Pygmalion? , this film portrays a man?s impenetrable devotion to a singular ideal which leaves him but one choice in the end.
Creepy, lust-drenched Doctor Gogol (Lorre) is a talented surgeon with something of a mad scientist in him. He has a penchant for performing experimental surgeries that prove to successfully cure the difficulty at hand. He?s also utterly obsessed with Yvonne Orlac (Drake) , a performer with the Theatre des Horreurs who as the film opens is putting on her final show. Gogol is taken with the scenes where Yvonne?s character is put on a wheel and tortured because she won?t reveal the name of her lover.
The film uses expressionistic angles; chiorascu lighting; and hypnotic music to create a strange and beguiling world of confusion and death. Gogol has allowed himself to be totally sucked in by the personality and luxuriousness of Yvonne to the point of purchasing a wax statue of her that he dresses and coos lovingly to in his drawing room. He communicates with the statue with regularity and with conviction. She is everything he requires except unlike Pygmalion he cannot bring her to life.
The art direction by Cedric Gibbons demonstrates how clear lines and uncluttered spaces can create the feeling of isolation and coldness. Dr. Gogol?s rooms are large, open spaces minimally furnished and look like the sets for the Joy Division video that was never completed. With his bald dome and penchant for wearing fur coats, Gogol emerges like a rare bird or exotic plant; he keeps a Venus Fly Trap which his maid begrudgingly feeds. Every aspect of his character bespeaks of a man who has structured his existence in a strict manner that allows him to experience heightened sensations that send him into an intoxicating revery. He is a man subterfuged by beauty and all the horrors that are associated with it. His is a world of perpetual longing and excitation where he searches for the answers that remain entirely elusive, tantalizingly out of reach.
There is a tremendous sense of brutality in this film as many of the aspects come together to create a landscape of reprisals and discontent. Gogol is fond of attending every execution where the condemned man places his head on the chopping block as the cruel blade of the guillotine removes him from this world.
The story involves one of Dr. Gogol?s experiments that has unforseen consequences for the patient. It changes the complexity of the man?s life and nearly leads to his incarceration were it not for understanding officers who believe his outlandish story. The sense of terror is enhanced through close ups of Gogol whose eyes betray a terrible intention at every turn. He always seems on the verge of performing some foul deed which is belied by the absolute calmness, almost quaintness, of his demeanor. He moves languidly and elegantly through the film, projecting a sense of eery capability that comes through whether he is in the operating room or staring intently into the wax figure?s eyes hoping to finally be able to bring her to life.
Yvonne?s husband Stephan is a talented pianist and composer whose singular gift is stripped from him in a horrible train crash. He becomes the victim of one of Dr. Gogol?s experiments that has unforseen circumstances for the patient. Dr. Gogol is manic about the possibilities for this procedure and gleefully completes it without first considering what might come of it. Stephen is transformed in a most direct and unfortunate manner into a creature he hardly recognizes. He is susceptible to committing deeds that shock and horrify him into a near stupor. He longs to be released from the tyranny of the abomination but the alternative is too terrible to consider. He merely lives with it and is eventually apprehended and confesses to a crime he is certain he has committed.
This film is a window into a mysterious and dark world of the imagination. The sets are majestic, and the film employs grotesque special effects that add to the mercenary drama of the production. There is always the sense that something real and terrifying is about to unfold and this suspicion is happily realized in the final act. It follows a straightforward narrative structure as the tale is hypnotically woven and displayed in all it?s mesmeric glory. There is a strange sexual pulse to Dr. Gogol?s infatuation with the wax doll. He treats her like a woman and serenades her like her would a prospective partner. He longs for her and desperately wants to press her warm cheek up against his own but he cannot will it to happen and this greatly frustrates him.
Dr. Gogol is something of a Satanic figure who lives in strict accordance with his own desires. His only barrier is the limits of the human imagination and of science. He is a man transcendent who has risen to great heights because he has seen possibilities where other men have merely scoffed. Yet, his ultimate aim is thwarted by his inability to fully realize his desire to actualize the physical existence of his beloved. As hard as he wills he fails to complete this ultimate task but he retains the same robust spirit that drives him toward his final actions. He ultimately satisfies the edicts of his great and lasting desire and is brought into a necessary state that sends the film to a most scintillating conclusion.
Lust and death are explored in equal terms in this film as the carnal body is seen to be both severed and contained in a wax mold where it?s singular purpose is to elicit direct erotic feelings in the viewer. Dr. Gogol?s hard lust is actualized in projecting any fantasy onto the unforgiving, brutally unavailable texture of the doll?s form. She can be anything he longs for and he doesn?t have to suffer the pangs of rejection or the fear of failing to satisfy her sexually. She is like a dead thing where all his necromantic expectations can be fully realized in her cold embrace. He can also bring her to life by imagining that acts he is performing with her are done with or for the actual lust object who has so readily stirred his soul. He is free to act in whatever way he sees fit because the doll cannot respond and will not cause him to suffer the brunt of her criticism. She will remain merely still, forever silent and unable to reach out to him psychologically or emotionally.
This is a film that expresses a particular argument about the nature of sensory excitation. Dr. Gogol has refined his senses to the point where he is able to focus them directly upon a single form and slowly breathe life into it. He can use his sense of smell to imagine her perfume or the scent of her hair in the morning after a night of torrid lovemaking. He can slowly undress her to reveal the exquisite contours of her thighs or the crook of her neck depending how accurately the wax figure was created. He can taste her toes or the small of her back. He can hear her coo or moan as he performs various acts upon her person. There are no limits to the pleasure she might bring him through his senses and the manner in which he employs them.
Dr. Gogol possesses an intensity that is revealed in every frame. His mannerisms and gestures express the behavior of a man of means who is able to live a life of supreme decadence would he so choose to become dissolved in it. His sexuality has become frustrated and so he has found a substitute who is actually more attentive to his needs than any actual female might be. He bonds with his wax figurine in such a dramatic way because he is unencumbered in her presence. He is divorced from nervousness and is more able to affect his true self without suffering conflicts that compel him toward actions that his instincts do not accept as valid. He longs to be realized and his true lust object refuses his advances despite his earnestness and willingness to express the tenacity of his desire for her directly and without pretense. Her rejection does not daunt him and he is able to find pleasure where it was once denied him.
The performances in this film are all quite stirring. Peter Lorre possesses a vitality that comes through mostly in his eyes. His eyes are hypnotic and one is mercilessly drawn into their deep pools. His movements are slow and deliberate and his every gesture is graceful and elegant. He moves with certainty and a grave style that is enhanced by the architecture of the sets. Lorre is perfectly cast and it is impossible to imagine anyone else who could have fulfilled the promise of this role. Frances Drake maintains a natural intensity throughout the film. She more than ably stands up to Lorre and is not subsumed within his totemic presence. Her performance is nuanced and she conveys all of the confusions of her character without succumbing to sentimentality. Colin Clive maintains a haunted presence throughout the film. He routinely looks scared, a bit off, or outright terrified. There is a mania about his performance and he carries it forth in many scenes where the character seems to be on the verge of losing his mind. Ted Healy has a jangly comportment in this film that pushes him onward like a strained marionette. His character is always rushing about, searching for clues, hoping to find something vital to use in his investigation.
Overall, this is an exceedingly intoxicating foray into the cool confines of lust and death. Dr. Gogol is a man driven by lust and a passion that knows no boundaries. He casts his web on a specific target and slowly works to devour it. He is a man of cruel vision who works stringently to actualize his earthly aims without worrying about the triviality of consequences. The film employs various techniques that express a dark, turbulent world of shadows and deceit. It has a measured, deeply wounded atmosphere that is accentuated by its sets laid out with loving care by the art department. There are many scenes of abject horror that prove that simple techniques in editing and scene selection can prove to be effective methods of actualizing one?s intentions. Peter Lorre is damaging and systematically ruthless in this film. He radiates a demonic purity that is smartly presented with great clarity. He?s icy but approachable. One can identify with his longings and his desires to bring them to fruition.