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The Mad Executioners (1963)

aka….. Der Henker von London

From the pen of Bryan Edgar Wallace comes this screen adaptation of his novel White Carpet by way of screenwriter Robert A. Stemmle. It’s the joining of the vigilante genre and the mad doctor features minus Boris Karloff. Might I add it’s kind of fun.

Mad_executioners

Think Magnum Force combined with The Star Chamber. A dash of Giallo featuring Karloff or Bela during his Monogram days.

In the damp underground of catacombs beneath a cemetery, a kangaroo court featuring men in hooded robes conduct a trial where the penalty is death by hanging . The defendant is promptly gagged and hanged from London Bridge over the river Thames. We are soon to find out that he is the third such victim that has Scotland Yard baffled.

Chief Inspector Wolfgang Preiss has assigned young officer Hansjorg Felmy to the case that sees another hanging shortly thereafter of a man who claimed insurance money over his brother’s supposed accidental death in which a body was never recovered. The hooded figures expose the man to his deceit and promptly hang him from an insurance billboard advertisement. Tongue is planted firmly in cheek at times in this black and white chiller.

mad executioners 2

The police are in a dilemma. Crime is down and the hooded cult are taking out criminals that have escaped the law. Still they are murderers and Preiss wants results. Felmy believes that there may be someone working for the Yard involved in the kangaroo court proceedings. It might even be the retired judge Sir Francis who happens to be the father of his girl, Maria Perschy.

Running parallel to this case that has the Yard baffled is another more gruesome set of murders where young women are found beheaded. One of the victims turns out to be Detective Felmy’s sister. He wants the case and transfers from the vigilante killings to find the madman of these heinous crimes. Perschy wants to help and along with her lover, serves as bait to the fiend on the loose.

maria perschy

Sure there’s a lot going on here in this dubbed German film with the England setting. Did I mention there’s a reporter who continually shows up in various disguises as he attempts to help the police solve the crimes while offering comedy relief? For a bit I thought the film might be losing it’s way but the two crime cases intersect to bring both problems to satisfying results and of course the unveiling of the lead hooded figure may come as a surprise at the payoff.

Mad Executioners German Poster

This black and white effort does well mixing a gothic chill to the underground proceedings when the hooded figures are on screen casting their votes as to the guilt of the men before them. Night scenes of fog shrouded horse and carriages coming and going only serve as a bonus to the overall effect.

Still it’s a modern day mystery that I suppose takes place at the time of the film’s release in the mid sixties. The team from this film including writer Stemmle and it’s director Edwin Zbonek would also adapt another Wallace story for 1964’s Monster of London City. That feature also had leading actor Felmy starring.

Retromedia put this out on DVD a few years back with some ultra cool cover art if you care to look for it.

mad executioners dvd

12 Comments »

  1. That DVD cover looks absolutely wonderful! I’ve had people recommend these Krimi pictures to me before but I’ve still not seen any, and I’m not entirely sure why.
    My exposure to Edgar Wallace is mainly the Merton Park series made in the UK in the 60s. I saw many of those on late night TV years ago and liked them a lot, and was very happy when Network in the UK released all of them in a hefty but value for money box set.

    • This one’s in fact based not on an Edgar Wallace story but on a story by his son. That said, the stories were all so drastically altered from the krimi movies that it was fairly irrelevant who’d written the original!

      • a poorly dubbed voice

        Go for the subtitled versions. The subs, presumably done in Germany or Denmark by people for whom English was a second language, often add extra merriment to the bonkersness of these movies.

        I’m not familiar with that show.

        It wasn’t a TV show but a longish series of B-movies made for UK cinemas; because the movies were all around the 60-minute mark, they could easily be cut just a wee bit for an hour-long slot on US TV back in the days when the ads didn’t take up 50% of the running time. I saw many of the series in UK cinemas when I was a kid (they had a great theme tune that was a smash hit when covered by The Shadows), and I’ve watched almost all of them more recently. A few are genuinely crapola, but most of them have a wonderfully endearing mediocrity that I love.

        Bryan Edgar Wallace as the writer. Never knew there was a son that took up the pen

        I’ve never seen any of his stories in print, and my guess is that they were written solely in order to keep milking the krini cow. (Lemme emphasize: that’s a guess.) I met Edgar’s granddaughter Penny a few times when she was managing the EW estate — she was a pal of my mum’s — and thought she was generally good news. My recollection’s hazy, but I think she too wrote some EWish material to keep the family flag flying.

        I’m slowly working my way through the Krimis at the moment for Noirish; at the current rate of progress I should finish the series some decades after I’m dead.

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