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  • This is essentially a variation on House Of Wax ,in both the plot and the type of role played by the star of both movies ,Vincent Price.In both pictures he plays a talented artist who is sent toppling over the edge into insanity when his creations are usurped by other,less talented and less scrupulous people .In this movie he plays a designer of illusions for stage magicians who aspires to set out on a performing career himself only to be frustrated when another illusionist ,the Great Rinaldo (John Emery)insists that he honour his contract and give him first choice of any illusions he designs.Price is already ill disposed towards Rinaldi as his former wife is now a paramour of Rinaldi. He deploys his talents as an illusionist and as a brilliant mimic to avenge himself upon Rinaldi and others who thwart his plans for recognition as a performer and a designer.

    Price is pretty much the whole show here and gives a well judged star turn as a wronged man whose predicament earns audience sympathy.The rest of the cast are competent if colourless and the weight of the whole venture falls on Price who carries the burden with ease .

    Good solid B Movie melodrama , this is a crime movie rather than a horror picture and is enjoyable providing you don't expect a masterpiece .Shot in black and white it is low on gore and is best seen as melodrama and enjoyed for the presence of its star giving an idiosyncratic performance
  • Orcini11 August 2001
    Even though it has one of the standard "Revenge Price Plots," this film is my favorite of Vincent Price's work. Gallico has that quality that is missing in so many horror film characters- likeability. When you watch it, you feel for him, you feel his frustration, the injustices against him, and you cheer him on when he goes for vengeance, even though he frightens you a little with his original fury. As the film goes on, his character becomes tragic. He's committed his murder, but now he must kill to cover that up. And again to cover that one up. And again... your stomach sinks with his soul as it goes down its spiral- like watching a beloved brother turn into a hood. Even if the revenge story is of old, the plot devices themselves are original- Gallico uses his tricks to kill in more and more inventive ways. A shame this one isn't available for home veiwing.
  • The only ingredient missing in this VINCENT PRICE tale of horror is Technicolor which might have provided even more interest in this murderous tale of a magician who kills in order to protect his inventive magic act.

    First to go is a partner with whom he has a violent argument and is given the buzz saw treatment. Then, JOHN EMERY, a rival magician who is foolish enough to steal from Price and threatens to reveal what he knows about the death of Price's partner. Emery has a grand time matching his scene stealing tricks with Price.

    Skillfully directed by John Brahm, a section of the film dealing with the bonfire is reminiscent of a similar moment from Brahm's HANGOVER SQUARE when Laird Cregar delivers the body of a woman to be consumed by fire.

    Acting is uniformly excellent and the script moves at a fast pace under Brahm's direction. Once again, Vincent Price delivers a first-rate performance in a shuddery role. The suspenseful moments lead to an edge of your seat climax involving a crematorium device.
  • The wronged artist is the theme of so many revenge horror movies. Going back to "The Phantom of the Opera," the unjustly maimed or wronged bring vengeance to their adversaries. No one could look more pained when victimized than Vincent Price. He is the master of the hang dog expression. In this one, he is a magician and master of high tech disguises (for the time) who has sold his talents to another man, seemingly for the rest of his life. When he decides to freelance and do his own magic show, his contract is waved in his face. Not only that, but the man who owns him also stole his wife years before. So there is even more bitterness brewing. The plan becomes to get rid of all the people who wronged him, then, through the use of clever masks, keep the people alive by impersonating them. He even "becomes" one of the great magicians of the world, showing his incredible talent. This is a silly, unbelievable movie. But who cares. I don't think I'll get it mixed up with Schindler's List. The hardest thing to swallow was why these two successful men had anything to do with Eva Gabor and why the Vincent Price character could have cared less when she ran off. She has no redeeming qualities in the movie other than her beauty, and that is so flamboyant and self centered, who cares. Every time Vincent Price was in disguise, it was easy to see who it was. Nevertheless, I've always loved Vincent's mugging from his Roger Corman films to "The Last Man on Earth." I liked the way he said "Crematorium." Why, exactly, does it have an automatic pilot that sends the body into the flames if it is not activated within a certain period of time? There is also a subplot with a mystery writer and her husband who bumble their ways into the plot. If you like the campy world of Price, watch it on the late show.
  • The great Vincent Price has done many fantastic Horror films, some of which range among the greatest genre gems of all-time. Price's greatest achievements were doubtlessly his films in the 60s, with films such as Roger Corman's brilliant Poe-cycle (still the greatest Horror cycle of all-time), Michael Reeves' "Witchfinder General" (1968) or Ubaldo Ragona's "The Last Man on Earth" (1964) marking the ultimate highlights of this brilliant man's career. The films that made the man famous and thereby made him the immortal Horror icon he is, however date back to the 50s, with "House of Wax" (1953) marking his rise to stardom. "The Mad Magician" of 1954 follows a plot that is very similar to that of its successful predecessor. This is not to say, however, that this film isn't an original, delightfully macabre and absolutely wonderful gem itself. As the lines above may suggest, Vincent Price is my favorite actor, and, while I personally would not allow myself to miss anything the man has been in, none of my fellow fans of the man may miss this little gem.

    Price stars as Don Galico (aka. Galico the Great), an underrated master magician and inventor of magic devices, whose boss, a sleazy businessman, stole his wife (Eva Gabor) from him. When the boss takes away one of Galico's ingenious inventions and gives it to his rival, The Great Rinaldi (John Emery), Galico snaps, and a murderous spree of revenge begins...

    Don't we love Vincent Price when he's out for revenge? Some of his most famous and greatest films such as "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1971) or "Theater of Blood" (1973) were about absurd and delightfully macabre revenge murders, and this earlier film in his Horror career is another proof that no one takes revenge as Vincent Price does. This film provides a wonderfully eccentric leading role for Price, who, as always, delivers a brilliant performance, and guarantees 70 minutes of outrageously entertaining and macabre fun for every Horror fan. Another must-see for my fellow Price fans.
  • Basically the exact same movie as "House of Wax" - Vincent Price's first genuine horror hit released the previous year - but seriously who cares, because "The Mad Magician" offers just as many sheer thrills, delightful period set-pieces, joyous 3-D effects, sublime acting performances and macabre horror gimmicks as its predecessor! "Never change a winning team" is exactly what writer Crane Wilbur must have thought when he penned down Price's character Don Gallico, another tormented soul besieged by fate and out for vengeance against those who wronged him. Don Gallico is about to perform his very first own illusionist show as Gallico the Great and plans to exhibit the greatest magic trick in history; entitled "The Girl and the Buzz Saw". Gallico's promising solo career is abruptly ruined before it even begins when his previous employer Ross Ormond appears on stage and shoves a contract under his nose, stating that all of Gallico's inventions are the rightful property of the company. The sleazy and relentless Ormond, who by the way also ransacked Gallico's once beloved wife, takes off with the buzz saw trick and programs it in the show of Gallico's rival The Great Rinaldi. Inevitably Gallico snaps and sadistically butchers Ormond, but – also being a master of creating disguises – recreates his victim's image and even starts leading a double life. "The Mad Magician" is an amusing and thoroughly unpretentious 50's horror movie in Grand Guignol style, with a whole lot of improbably plot twists (the landlady turns out a brilliant crime novelist?) and a handful of fantastically grotesque gross-out moments (although they obviously remain suggestive for most part). The 3-D delights near the beginning of the film, like a yo-yo player and a goofy trick with water fountains, merely just serve as time-filler and contemporary 50's hype, but it's still fun to watch even now and without the means to properly behold them. "The Mad Magician" is also interesting from a periodical setting point of view, as the events take place around the time fingerprints were starting to get used as evidence material and the character of Alice Prentiss is an obvious reference towards famous crime authors of that era. Needless to state that Vincent Price remains the absolute most essential element of triumph in this film, as well as from nearly every other horror movie this legendary man ever starred in. Like no other actor could ever accomplish, Price depicts the tormented protagonist who gradually descends further and further into mental madness in such an indescribably mesmerizing way. You pity Don Gallico, yet at the same time you fear him enormously. You support his vile acts of retaliation and yet simultaneously you realize his murderous rampage must end in death. Vincent Price simply was a genius actor and, in my humble opinion, the embodiment of the horror genre.
  • I just recently watched this 1954 movie starring Vincent Price for the first time on Turner Classic Movies. Price portrays Don Gallico, a magician/inventor who is driven to murder when his boss steals several of his magical inventions (and also his wife, portrayed in a brief role by the lovely Eva Gabor). Even though Price is a murderer, I actually found myself rooting for him, he is a sympathetic character who is driven mad by the greedy people around him who keep taking advantage of him.

    Although this movie doesn't have the "horror" factor of some of his more famous roles (such as my favorite, "House of Wax") it nonetheless has enough going for it to keep the viewers interest.

    This is a must for Vincent Price fans.
  • Vincent Price's follow-up to HOUSE OF WAX (1953), the film which cemented his reputation as a horror icon, similarly revolves around a bitter – albeit resourceful – showman. Though a remake, the former (shot in Technicolor) remains the superior effort; that said, apart from some resistible comic relief, the obligatory resort to cheap gimmickry (it was another 3-D showcase) and occasional narrative shortcomings (whatever happened to the missing bag which supposedly turned up at some police station containing a severed head?), this offers more than enough Grand Guignol-type thrills and overall camp value (Price hamming it up in a variety of disguises as an inventor of illusions impersonating 'missing' star conjurers who had taken advantage of his genius) to stand on its own two feet. Incidentally, director Brahm's involvement here proves no mere coincidence – since the narrative incorporates elements from two horror titles (both starring Laird Cregar) he had previously helmed i.e. THE LODGER (1944) and HANGOVER SQUARE (1945). The young leads are played by Mary Murphy (as Price's ingénue assistant) and Patrick O'Neal (as her police detective boyfriend – curiously enough, he would himself take the lead in a similar piece, CHAMBER OF HORRORS [1966], which I have acquired just in time to serve as an encore to this one). An interesting sideline here is the latter's adoption of a novel detection technique, fingerprinting, which is crucial in bringing about Price's downfall (in a predictable but rather awkward fiery climax)…though the persistent snooping of his amateur crime novelist landlady has at least as much to do with it in the long run! Watching the star in a made-to-measure role, the film emerges a good deal of fun – particularly at a compact 73 minutes.
  • The line went all the way around the Elm Theater in Elmwood, Ct., when this was shown in 1954.It wasn't screened in 3-D, but still scared me silly! I now own a film print of it, as well as a 35mm 3-D print of House Of Wax. Wax had bigger budget, stereo sound called WarnerPhonic if I recall. Both are excellent, and the two together are definitely my choices for Price's best, followed by SHOCK and DRAGONWYCK. I know many will like his later films, which have many great titles also; House of Usher, Comedy of Terrors, The Raven, Theater of Blood,.....I could go on and on. And I should have included THE TINGLER and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL in my favorites....especially THE TINGLER, which also had a color partial scene in it, and was definitely equal to WAX and MAGICIAN in its terror.Gotta love VP for being so "swarmy"!!!!
  • At a tender age when Hollywood battled home television by offering movie-goers 3D and then CinemaScope (to say nothing of Cinerama!), I begged my family to take me to every 3D movie. In retrospect I can only admire their stoicism at sitting through this surfeit of corny flicks. (The only truly good movies made in 3D must have been Kiss Me Kate and Dial M For Murder. The rest were usually horror or action to utilize the unique ability of the actors to jump out of the screen or throw something directly at you.)

    Anyway, I loved House of Was and when I saw the newspaper ads for The Mad Magician, my whining began. Five decades later, I've reseen it several times "flat" on television and can only wish someone would create a viable method to put 3D movies on DVD or home video. (When House of Wax was re-released in the early '80's to usher in that attempt to interest audiences in the 3D process, the aids claimed "You've never seen House of Wax if you haven't seen it in 3D!" and to a great extent that is true.

    The process added to the fun of these campy movies. Incidentally "Magician" is in black & white but still looks great. By all means check it out if you like the shlocky type of B horror flicks which inundated audiences in the '50's & early '60's.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The film begins with Vincent Price about to begin his performance as a magician. However, mid-way through the very successful show, the police come and shut him down. It seems that his old boss had cheated him out of the tricks Price had created--even those he made on his own time at home. As a result, Price justifiably kills the evil man. The problem is that while the viewer understood why Price killed and most probably thought this was a GOOD thing, because Price was a bit mad, he just couldn't stop at one (sort of like eating Lay's Potato Chips).

    The film was full of very creative and spectacular magic tricks (including a huge circular saw and a crematorium for the shows), great plot twists as well as exciting action. One thing you can't say about this film is that it is dull. While it's also far from subtle, it is fun throughout, though and well worth a look.

    Had I never seen Vincent Price's version of HOUSE OF WAX, I probably would have liked THE MAD MAGICIAN a lot more and scored it an 8 or 9. That's because while THE MAD MAGICIAN is a wonderful film, it's highly reminiscent of the film that preceded it (HOUSE OF WAX). The bottom line is that since HOUSE OF WAX was so successful, the formula was re-hashed in the follow-up film. Both were made in 3-D, both have a plot where Price has every justification to kill but he can't stop once he's committed the first and both are great fun to watch. The biggest differences, and there are few, are that HOUSE OF WAX was in color and was more of a horror film and THE MAD MAGICIAN was definitely more of a mystery.

    My advice is to see this film AND HOUSE OF WAX (the Price version only). They are both terrific 1950s horror films.
  • The Mad Magician (1954)

    *** (out of 4)

    Vincent Price followed his success in HOUSE OF WAX with this horror thriller. He plays Don Gallico, a masterful creator of magic tricks who is double crossed by his boss and kills him. He eventually takes the dead man's identity but when the police start to investigate he must commit one murder after another trying to cover his tracks. THE MAD MAGICIAN was originally released in 3D and there are a lot of objects flying towards the screen and even when you view the film flat it's still easy to see that the effects are in good nature and appear to be fun. The movie itself is quite fun from start to finish and a lot of credit has to go to the wonderful Vincent Price. He was such a wonderful actor and his great performance made him a perfect fit for the genre. His soft-spoken nature he just makes you really love his character and made you feel sorry for him once the boss rips him off. Even after he starts murdering people you can't help but wish there's some way for him to get out of it. These added feelings for the character would be missing with so many other actors but Price's perfect performance really adds so much to the film. Mary Murphy is good as his assistant and Eva Gabor is simply snake-worthy as Price's ex-wife. Director John Brahm (THE LODGER) has had experience with the genre so he's able to build up a wonderful atmosphere and keep the film moving at a very fast pace. The biggest flaw with the picture is that it's pretty much HOUSE OF WAX but with a magician. The two film's are very close to one another as it's clear Columbia was trying to capture the success of that Warner film and didn't really come up with a fresh plot. With that said, Price certainly makes this film quite memorable and it ranks as one of the better horror pictures from this period.
  • The year after Vincent Price starred in the excellent House of Wax (1953), the actor appeared in this fun potboiler, once again playing a vengeful wronged artist, in this case a designer of illusions who punishes the malicious rivals who steal his work and claim it as their own.

    Price is superb as Don Gallico, driven to kill to keep what is rightfully his, the horror icon honing the kind of role that he would ultimately perfect in the brilliant Theatre of Blood (1973). Despite the ghoulish acts committed against his persecutors, one still feels a degree of sympathy for Gallico, such is the power of his performance.

    While the plot (and the use of 3D gimmickry) will no doubt seem familiar to those who have seen House of Wax, there are some fun elements that help it stand apart from its predecessor: the deaths are inventive, Gallico using his magical equipment to dispose of his enemies; there's fun to be had from his many disguises (silly perhaps, but Price makes it work); and Lenita Lane entertains as enquiring murder mystery writer Alice Prentiss, who figures out Gallico's secret.

    7.5/10, rounded up to 8 for the lovely Mary Murphy as Gallico's leggy stage assistant Karen Lee.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie started with a solid 'wronged artist' revenge tale similar to another Price 3D film, House of Wax, as other reviewers have said, but is sunk by too many lame plot contrivances. I'm a fan of Vincent Price's old horror films and I really think this could have been a much better film if they had worked out the kinks in the story as ridiculously unlikely things happen at almost every turn that made me groan and want to yell at my TV. If there's one thing that annoys me, it's when a good horror movie idea is ruined by inept writing.

    I had several problems with this movie, including: *SPOILERS ALERT* -Price is crazy enough to drag a dummied up corpse to a bonfire but smart enough to don a disguise (of the murdered man). When bones are found in the ashes, wouldn't someone remember the one guy who dragged a humanoid bundle to the top of the fire and as such wouldn't Price's magician then be smart enough to ditch that disguise afterward so as not to provoke potential police questioning about the bonfire? Why would Price not adopt a completely NEW disguise before renting out that room? -The crematorium device pulls the body into the chamber BEFORE it is heated when first demonstrated. This is important so as not to scorch the person entering the chamber before they get dropped through the trap door in the bottom of the device. Yet when the plot needs a clichéd fight and time for his potential victim to escape he heats the chamber first thereby giving the policeman ample time to get out and turns his back completely on the man to go to the door without continually looking back. As another poster said, the device is created for a repeat performance back into the fiery chamber a short time after the first only so that it can backfire against it's magician creator later when Price dies in a stereotypical fashion.
  • Magician uses elaborate props from his magic act to dole out revenge on those who have wronged him in his professional life. First is a disloyal partner. Next, a rival magician. Price later impersonates them, by using elaborate masks, keeping them "alive," and effectively leading a double life, to keep suspecting eyes away from him and his crimes.

    Price is his usual wonderful antihero (we want him to be avenged against the people who did him wrong, yet at the same time, his character becomes a ruthless killer, causing more harm than those who wronged him) He could play that character type better than anyone before or since.

    The screenplay is good, but unmemorable, save for a few scenes; The film is most let down by static monochrome photography. Mystery of the Wax Museum (from 1933) was in two-strip Technicolour; it was remade as House of Wax in 1953, and both had glorious colour photography. House of Wax was partly remade here, but this time, in static, slightly washed-out black-and-white. That is the biggest letdown here, and it makes this film the least of the three loosely-connected films.
  • This movie was enjoyable to watch despite an improbable plot as it had a well written script that had a good mixture of really intense scenes along with dramatic and comedic scenes. The actors all did an excellent job in their roles and cinematography was superb plus the special effects weren't that bad considering when this movie was made.
  • Although there is more ham in this film than a full street of German delis, the movie will definitely hold your attention. We know Price is a ham, but so was Gabor, the landlady writer, and the competing magician. FOUR HAMS in ONE FILM! I am pretty sure this is a record. Regardless of the pork content, the film is entertaining because of the story and the characters. A brilliant magician who is a terrible businessman, gets taken in by a few sharpies. His revenge is sweet. But the climax is not as satisfying as one would want. What we really want is for him to get away with the scam. But this film was under the watchful eye of the film code, which guarantees the sappy ending I will not reveal. Good fun.
  • A mad scientist named Dr Gogol is obsessivey infatuated with the lead actress of a local grotesque play in Paris.

    Though she is madly in love with a popular pianist, who sends her messages via code, when he knows his performances are being broadcast live on the radio.

    They plan to move to England together; though, not if Gogol has any say in the matter...

    Not only does he pubically molest her; he buys the wax statue made in her image; and formulates a sinister plot to ensure the object of his affection will never leave his sight.

    Meanwhile, police are moving local thug and killer, Rollo- whose proficencies involve knife throwing- to the place where he is to be executed.

    Unfortunately, the train that both he, and the pianist, are in crashes...leaving the pianist with such severe injuries to his hands, that it will require their amputation.

    Rollo is executed (after mentioning the "longest dam ever built in the world").

    While the young actress is left so desperate, after the accident- that she turns to Gogol, hoping he can use his surgery skills to help her beloved.

    But he plans to use this oppourtunity to his advantage.

    He asks for the dead body of Rollo; from which he will harvest the hands; and transplant them onto the pianist.

    After numerous forms of therapy, the operation finally takes...though, things aren't exactly the same...

    ...he can no longer play the piano, no matter how hard he practices.

    He can, however, throw a knife with mean accuracy all of a sudden...which leads to the untimely death of his father.

    Turns out that Gogol had also replaced Rollo's head using the same procedure...and he's still alive...just with fancy new metallic hands.

    So, either his transplant hands are starting to take over his mind; or Rollo is somehow able to control his actions through his hands.

    At least, that is what they are leading him to believe...though, things might not be exactly like they seem...

    While not as good as Eyes Without A Face or House Of's still a classic.

    Even if the story is a bit implausible in retrospect.

    Lorre's portrayal of Gogol is genuinely creepy.

    6 out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While this film invites comparison to House of Wax, this film is totally it's own, while House of Wax was a remake of a 1930' s film. The crew of House of Wax sort of stayed together to do this one. Both films were originally in 3D. Both films have the same director.

    What is interesting here is that the women in the cast at ages 23 (Mary Murphy Karen Lee) and 35 Ava Gabor (Claire Ormond) are younger than the males in the cast, the film focus is so much on magic that you hardly notice the women.

    The plot involves Price as the mad magician(Don Gallico / Gallico the Great) who people seem to keep stealing his trick from him. So he gets upset with these thieves and starts killing them. Then he develops masks of these deceased people he has killed including (John Emery -The Great Rinaldi) and keeps them alive performing as them on stage. Meanwhile, Price's own persona seems gentle and kind to humanity.

    Ava Gabor (Claire Ormond) plays Prices Ex-Wife, stolen from him by a rich man (Donald Randolph ...Ross Ormond ) that Price kills while she is overseas spending all of his money. She comes back, gets wise to the hidden death of her husband, and gets murdered by Price to continue the cover up. As the tricks pile up, a police detective who uses finger prints to catch killers, catches on to Prices plot. (Patrick O'Neal). The unmasking has a really hot conclusion.

    While it is not House of Wax, the cast is literally stacked with people that were in a lot of 1950's Sci-Fi films.
  • In this follow up to the successful House of Wax, Price plays a deranged magician who kills off his rivals, then uses life-like masks to imitate them. The turn-of-the-century period settings and illusions is what makes the film fun to watch, but story is typical Price. Originally shown in 3-D. Earns 2 1/2 stars.
  • The Mad Magician is directed by John Brahm and written by Crane Wilbur. It stars Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor and Patrick O'Neal. Music is by Arthur Lange and Emil Newman and cinematography by Bert Glennon.

    Magician Don Gallico (Price) is incensed when his attempts at stardom is scuppered by a contract he signed, so much so he takes matters in to his own hands...

    One of the eras 3-D productions, The Mad Magician sees Columbia recycle Warner Brother's 1953 release of House of Wax. The familiarity of it all is impossible to shake off, with a key scene even stolen from one of director Brahm's more notable productions. Yet it's still a fun movie, watching Price turn in a good one, as he gradually gets more dastardly with each passing quarter, all set to Victorian style backgrounds.

    There's some ghoulishly enjoyable macabre moments, played straight but with tongue in cheek evident, and while the scenes shot for 3-D gain obviously lose impact, they hold well enough in 2-D for story enjoyment. Performances around Price are fine, the girls (including Murphy's outstanding legs) add colour to the otherwise weak plot, and although the absence of Brahm's skilled Gothic/noir touches is a blow, the look of the piece is suitably moody.

    More one for Brahm and Price completists, this is still enjoyable fare (it was a commercial hit upon release) that's worth tracking down. 6.5/10
  • This 1954 3D classic was meant as a follow up to "House of Wax" and except for not being in technicolor the opening scene is almost identical to the earlier film. Other reviewers have covered the details of the story but I just wanted to add that it recently became available in 3D on blu-ray! It's really the only way to watch this movie and I highly recommend it!
  • Hey_Sweden3 October 2015
    "The Mad Magician" is a thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to the earlier Vincent Price classic, "House of Wax". Rather reminiscent of that favourite, it stars Price as Don Gallico, a magician & master of illusion furious with his conniving employer, Ross Ormond (Donald Randolph). Ormond intends to pass on Gallicos' "buzz saw" bit to Gallicos' egocentric rival, Rinaldi (John Emery). So Gallico uses his talents to commit murder, and commit more murders in order to keep his secret. Alan Bruce (Patrick O'Neal), a young police detective, utilizes cutting edge new techniques such as fingerprinting to work the clues.

    This movie is not going to be as memorable as "House of Wax", which was largely responsible for launching Price as a new star of the horror genre. It's rather formulaic, and predictable, but it's richly photographed in black & white by Bert Glennon, and director John Brahm, an expert in period genre productions such as "Hangover Square" and "The Lodger", keeps the pace consistent. What viewers may marvel at is the makeup (by George Bau and Gustaf Norin), which is pretty impressive for any era in filmmaking.

    "The Mad Magician" also provides great evidence of what a talent Price was. It's a fun vehicle, and the more unhinged Gallico gets, the more enjoyable Price is to watch. The supporting actors are good - leggy Mary Murphy as the assistant Karen Lee, Eva Gabor as Claire, the greedy, grasping woman who'd married both Gallico and Ormond, Jay Novello as landlord Frank Prentiss, and especially Lenita Lane as Prentiss' wife Alice, who has a second career as an author of murder mysteries. Corey Allen, Conrad Brooks, Roy Engel, and Lyle Talbot have uncredited parts.

    This amusing plot, contrived by Crane Wilbur, leads to an exciting and incendiary finale.

    Seven out of 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Revenge is mine saith the magician, and here, he's on a quest for revenge against the people who have prevented him from utilizing his own magic trick invention. Those who stand in his way meet brutal ends which includes having their head sawed off, being burnt to death and other means of torturous demises. Hiding behind the mask of several of the victims is the victim of fraud himself, the former master of wax dummies who has switched to trickery in this variation of a story he had just done. You guessed it, Vincent Price, the tall, gangly seemingly milquetoast who discovers in the middle of a performance as he tries to introduce his newest invention that he's under the thumb of his employer whom he despises for stealing his wife. A clever bit of trickery turns revenge into a gory end for the rascal, and when there's murder (no matter what the motivations), madness is sure to follow for the perpetrator. Enter ex-wife Eva Gabor who finds that blackmail doesn't quite always end in a cash settlement and magician rival John Emery who is really burnt up about the threat he has to his title as the world's greatest illusionist.

    With the help of a nosy murder mystery writer (a very funny Lenita Lane), New York detective Patrick O'Neal investigates the common fingerprints found at the scene of a murder in Lane's boarding house and all doesn't add up. Murderers gain confidence and become clumsy as they begin to think they're fool-proof, and in the case of Price, it's only a matter of time before he slips up. There isn't really a mystery here, only the fun of watching Price getting away with his gruesome actions and the knowledge that his retribution will be equally as gory as the crimes he's already committed. Mary Murphy plays his assistant who also slowly becomes aware of Price's nefarious plots while Don Randolph is slimy as Price's boss whose sneaky actions send Price over the edge.

    Certainly not as colorful as its predecessor "House of Wax" (made the year before and certainly the inspiration for this), the film still is quite enjoyable and has some genuine thrills that are bone-tingling. The mixture of comedy and horror always made even the most maudlin of Price's films seem much better, and in the case of "The Mad Magician", there are some moments that will live in your cineramic memory long after you've seen this film. There's a very funny conclusion which will have you in hoards of laughter after the gruesome climax that came just before.
  • And I do think undeservedly. It is too short perhaps, and a lot of the support characters are rather colourless especially compared to Gallico. However, while the revenge story has been done before many times it is still interesting here with not a dull moment. There are some very suspenseful moments and Gallico's means of revenge are sadistic. The crematorium climax is the meaning of edge-of-your-seat, and the buzz saw that isn't scene is also very memorable. The Mad Magician does look good, the sets are both beautiful and wonderfully macabre. The 3D effects are not as great as those of House of Wax, but still better than a lot of the mostly soulless effects we have nowadays. They do enhance what is going on on screen and apart from a couple that are a little weird often to thrilling effect. Of the supporting turns the best were Eva Gabor, a beautiful woman who plays a character with no redeeming qualities with no sense of blandness or holding back, and Donald Randolph, who is wonderfully sleazy as Ormond. Best of all again is Price, whose presence is genuinely fearsome yet the audience also garners sympathy for him, the sort of role that Price really excelled at. Overall, I like it very much and think it deserves more attention than it gets. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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