Saturday, March 04, 2017

151. The Madmen of Mandoras

151. The Madmen of Mandoras (1963)
Director: David Bradley
Writers: Peter Miles from a story by Steve Bennett
From: Cult Cinema

A scientist developing a new bioweapon is kidnapped, but that’s only part of the larger plan for world domination developing in the South American country of Mandoras.

I’m not going to say much about this because it’s the original version of They Saved Hitler’s Brain. I’m not saying that was a remake, I’m saying they’re literally the same film. They Saved Hitler’s Brain took The Madmen of Mandoras and added about twenty minutes of new footage to the beginning so it could be played on TV as a movie.

The core plot is the same. A scientist developing poison gas is kidnapped. His daughter and her intelligence-service husband are met by a representative of the offending government and travel to the country. They find the scientist’s other daughter, and the whole family is kidnapped. Turns out the Nazis are behind it all and have kept Hitler’s head alive inside a jar. In the end, the Nazis die in flames, and everyone’s happy except Bill Kristol who thinks we’ve been cheering for the wrong side in this movie for the past 25 years.

To its credit, this version works a lot better than the remixed one, mainly because it’s a complete movie. They Saved Hitler’s Brain adds a CIA element that interrupts a lot of the first act and has no impact on the plot because all the new characters die. All the remix does is make the story more complicated than it needs to be by delaying a lot of the exposition. Also, it kills the only good surprise the movie has, that it’s Nazis running the show and keeping Hitler’s head in a jar.

The performance of Hitler’s head never stops being funny, though. I highly recommend just fast-forwarding until you see those parts.

Apart from that, not a whole lot to this film. It has that strange “waiting to be saved by a white man” thing going on. The town has been organizing a resistance to the Nazis and it’s all the locals who actually take heroic actions, but for some reason the camera’s locked on this bland cracker who accomplishes nothing. He arguably doesn’t even serve as an effective distraction so the real heroes can put their plan into action. I don’t know why the plot has to wait for him to arrive to jump off.

I did copy down two lines that seemed funny at the time but are just depressing today.
Nazis, surely a few fascists can’t upset the world.
I’m a very good police chief. I always obey orders most of the time.
Oh, time reopens all wounds and rubs lemon juice in them.

All in all, a pretty generic flick. It should be public domain because who could care about it, but it’s not. If you want to watch it, it’s not difficult to find and it’s fun enough to riff. It’s standard MST3k fare: useless white guy kept center stage while all the real adventure is happening elsewhere. To its credit, it did ultimately give us the phrase “they saved Hitler’s brain” which is enjoyable on its own without any context whatsoever.

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