THE MAD MAGICIAN (1954)
THE MAD MAGICIAN is Vincent Price at his deranged and diabolical best. After Warner Brothers created a hit with their 3-D production of HOUSE OF WAX Columbia Pictures decided to get in on the craze. They hired the writer from HOUSE OF WAX and brought back Price and his tortured-artist-turned-mad-man shtick in this 1954 3D horror classic.
Mr. Price stars as Don Gallico, a frustrated inventor of stage illusions. Gallico toils in the magic prop studio of the cruel Mr. Ormond (played by Donald Randolph) and dreams becoming famous as “The Great Gallico,” once he has perfects his masterpiece of magic, “The Buzz Saw Illusion.”
After the mad magician dispatches Mr. Ormond via a real buzz saw blade he has two problems; what to do with the body and what to do with the head? Gallico disguises himself as Mr. Ormond and drags his victim’s body to a convenient pre-game bonfire just about to start only a short walk from the scene of the crime. Disguising the body to look like a straw-filled effigy of a rival sports team member, he’s cheered as he dumps the body in full view of a crowd. Since the crowd believes he is Mr. Ormond, Gallico believes he’s pulled off the perfect crime. Tah-da!
Just when Gallico thinks he’s covered his tracks, his ex-wife (played by Eva Gabor) shows up searching for her husband, the very dead Mr. Ormond. She discovers Gallico’s crime so he dispatches his unfaithful lover in pure Vincent Price rage. So many bodies, so little time.
In all, THE MAD MAGICIAN typifies the teenager targeted shock movie of the 1950’s. Full of plot holes, unbelievable coincidences and sophistic character motivations it’s a campy, fun and entertaining 74 minutes.
Brian McGovern is a magician in New York. He appears regularly at comedy clubs, corporate event and private parties. He does not own a buzz saw (yet).