Directed by John Brahm [Other horror films: The Undying Monster (1942), The Lodger (1944)]
In many ways a companion piece to 1953’s House of Wax, The Mad Magician is a film I heard little about, and in fact, aside from Vincent Price’s starring role, I went in blind. I came out pretty happy too, and though not an amazing movie, I do think The Mad Magician had a decent amount going for it.
Like House of Wax, this film stars Vincent Price, who I’ll talk about in a bit, but also, this is a 3D film. In House of Wax, the 3D was inconsequential (such as a guy using a paddle ball thing), and in this film, it’s much the same, as we see a guy playing with a yo-yo, and see someone jab a sword in the camera’s direction. It’s a pretty pointless gimmick, made maybe a little worse by the fact that, unlike House of Wax, this film is black-and-white.
Otherwise, though, the story this one has is pretty fun, dealing with Vincent Price getting revenge on some horrible people, which is always a blast. It’s amusing to me how young he looks here, as this is before he sports his recognizable moustache, but his performance is no less good that you’d expect, and I thought he definitely did an amazing job. I love the element of Price’s character making masks of his victims so he can assume their identities, and the whole of the film is just a good example of quality.
Price (who I know best from House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, Theatre of Blood, The Haunted Palace, Pit and the Pendulum, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Bat, Witchfinder General, and The Fly) of course did amazing, as I said. Most others, such as Lenita Lane (also in The Bat), Donald Randolph, Mary Murphy, and Patrick O’Neal, did perfectly okay, but when Price is involved, it’s somewhat difficult for anyone else to stand out.
I did enjoy the off-screen decapitation (and on an amusing note, I watched this on a day when I watched five total horror films, and two others also had decapitations, being Bloody Moon and The Omen), and the crematory was pretty fun. The finale was unfortunate if only because I enjoyed Price’s crusade against the hideous copyright laws holding him down, and it admittedly was somewhat choreographed (in the same way the finale of The Mask of Diijon was).
Even so, The Mad Magician was a lot of fun, and being an early Price film, not to mention a digestible one, it went down quite easy. If you enjoy the classics, this might be worth seeing if you’ve not already done so.
5 thoughts on “The Mad Magician (1954)”