B&W, 1963, 92m.
Directed by David Bradley
Starring Walter Stocker, Audrey Caire
Rhino (US R0 NTSC)

Now here's a level of cinematic pain that few will be able to sit through without giggling uncontrollably. The remnants of a disastrous 1963 B-movie entitled Madmen of Mandoras were haphazardly spliced into newer, late '60s footage (crafted at UCLA, according to the liner notes, but who really knows?) vaguely related to the story of Hitler's animated head plotting a takeover from South America. Needless to say, the opening newer sequences (which feel for all the world like a Doris Wishman grindhouse quickie) completely fail to cohere with the original film, which was surprisingly well photographed by the great Stanley Cortez (Night of the Hunter, The Magnificent Ambersons). Approach at your own risk. The hallucinatory tale begins with a professor falling victim to a car bomb while apparently carrying the antidote to a nerve gas being developed by a rising Fourth Reich. A government agent named Vick is called in and ordered to follow up on the assassination, despite the fact that another professor actually developed the formula and is still among the living. Vick teams up with feminist agent Toni, and they track down the evildoers to an old house where carnage ensues. Shorn of our two leading characters, we then hop over to Mandoras for another story about a kidnapped diplomat's daughter named Suzanne who now grinds away at a local bar. She tips off her would-be rescuers about some nefarious nouveau Nazis, who apparently have preserved the Fuhrer's severed head in a glass jar. Needless to say, Hitler's in a very foul mood and twitches spastically towards his minions. Chases follow. People die. None of it makes a lick of sense.

Somehow it's just tragic that one of the few examples of Cortez's photography on DVD lies within this film, which has been salvaged from public domain hell by the folks at Rhino. While most prints run 74 minutes, the Rhino disc contains every shred of alternate and additional footage ever shot, tallying up to a mind-boggling 92 minutes. More is not necessarily better, but it certainly is funnier. The image quality ranges wildly, from the ragged opening credits to the surprisingly crisp (if slightly damaged) 16mm inserts to the 35mm original. For some reason the sound goes all to hell for a few minutes one hour into the movie, with some odd fluttering noises in the background. The packaging claims to be mastered from the original 35mm film elements, which could very well be true; while no demo piece by any means, the film looks decent for the most part. Just keep your expectations low and enjoy. Special points for the animated menu, which features an animated Hitler head yammering away in quasi-German; however, it would have been even better to have him simply yelp repeatedly, "Mach schnell! Mach schnell!" The film has also been released on several PD compilations and, most notably, an entry in Mill Creek's Drive-In Cult Classics box along with the original Madmen of Mandoras cut.

Mondo Digital ReviewsMondo Digital LinksFrequently Asked Questions