The Madmen of Mandoras (1963) Review {by Tim Walker}

 (The following review was contributed by Tim Walker. Tim also writes for his own blog, here.)

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The opening scene of this film actually made me pretty angry; it appeared to be real stock footage of an elephant who had been dosed with nerve gas. As the elephant dropped to the ground and died I was about to turn off the film and walk the fuck away because the only thing I can not watch in a film is animal cruelty. But against my better judgment I decided to continue to watch. After the elephant footage finishes we can see it was being played to a small group of military advisers, by a man who we find out is called Professor Coleman. The Professor was teaching them about the dangers of a deadly nerve gas he has created, we then find out he also created an antidote to this gas. The antidote is called ‘Formula D’ (feel free to insert a dick joke here). After this meeting we are introduced to our hero ‘Phil’ who I expected to be really annoying as most film hero’s of this time were, but I was surprised by just how dull and inoffensive he was.

After everybody from the meeting has left, the Professor gets a phone call that says his daughter ‘Susan’ has been kidnapped, and that he needs to get to her apartment. The Professor then rushes there, only to find her apartment is a wreck and her husband ‘David’ is beaten and bruised. David tells the Professor that some armed men took Susan away and then knocked him out. After hearing this, the Professor and David decide to seek help from the police, but as soon as they walk out of the apartment building they too are kidnapped. If the kidnappers wanted to take all of them, they could have just done it in a much easier way, but no they have to all mysterious.

The film then cuts to Phil arriving home to his wife who is also dull and inoffensive, it’s nice to see such a well matched couple. A little later they leave the house to go out for the afternoon, only to find a shifty looking man waiting for them.  He tells Phil that he needs to warn the Professor, Phil basically tells him to go away and the man pulls a gun. He then makes them get in their car and start driving. During the drive he tells them about a plan that has been concocted by a secret group from the fictional country of ‘Mandoras’ to kidnap Professor Coleman. But just as he is about to tell more about the plan, he is shot by the passenger of a sinister looking black car. The killer used possibly the worst silencer on his gun ever, his attempts to be stealthy sounded more like somebody throwing a toolbox down a staircase. Phil pulls the car over in an attempt to save the mysterious man, who promptly dies. Now faced with the problem of what to do with the corpse, Phil comes up with a brilliant plan, he leaves the body in a phone box! Of all the possible places to leave a body he chose to just lean him up against the inside of a phone box like a cardboard cut out. I never said Phil was smart.

Eventually Phil and his wife decide to travel to Mandoras themselves to uncover the mystery. What they actually find is a town full of sinister looking people who act like they just got off the set of the Spanish version of The Wicker Man. They eventually find out that Mandoras is under the control of a secret Nazi cult, and that they are the ones who have kidnapped Professor Coleman. It is around this point that the plot starts to wander and gets pretty confusing, though we very quickly forget that the plot no longer makes any sense as we discover that the Nazi cult managed to save Hitler! Just not all of him.

I went into this with low expectations and I was pretty surprised by much fun this film was. It does suffer very badly from a plot that makes little to no sense throughout most of the film, and I found this to be pretty distracting at times. It also has some pretty hopeless acting and some strange dialogue. But if you look past that it’s a very enjoyable film about Nazi’s keeping Hitler’s head in a jar, and we just don’t see enough of those sort of films anymore. I am going to give this film 5/10, it is well worth a watch just to see Hitler’s face melt. And yes, that happens.

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