Friday, November 1, 2019

Mad Love (1935)

I would be an utter hack if I didn't ressurect my horror movie reviews for just one more day. Because Halloween can never be over.

Mad Love is a very well done film, combining both the creepy performance of Peter Lorre with the directing abilities of one of the most acclaimed cinematographers in history Karl Freund. The film concerns a brilliant surgeon played by Lorre who gets entangled in a love triangle between an actress and her pianist husband, who after a train accident must use the hands of a killer to repair the piano player's hands. Colin Clive returns once more here bringing yet another commited and great performance, while Frances Drake I honestly feel doesn't have to act much when interacting with Lorre and while it is a simple role she plays the part well. But of course the reason the film is still so well known is because of Peter Lorre, and this was his first american film after starring in Fritz Lang's M leading him to have two classic horrific roles under his belt and lead to many more in the future. The man is a great actor, able to be both unsettling and yet still relatable, being a frustrated man who while a genius in his medical field is very awkward and blunt in social situations and only wants to be accepted by the woman he loves. It is one of many tragic romances in the horror genre, he is able to profess his love but recieve little in return which leads to a eventual spiral into madness which is handled incredibly well. Yes, the idea of an executed killer's hands causing a normal sane person to commit murders is far fetched and bordering on silly, and while it does clash with the realism of the picture it doesn't harm the film. However in the case of a secondary character who is there solely to lighten the mood and create comedic relief, is a sin against nature and while horror movies can have a light joke here or there, what is the point of making a horror movie if you throw in a comedic character to keep people from feeling tense and scared? It sort of defies the purpose of the genre. One mistep aside, the director behind this is amazing. Karl Freund is no stranger here either, he directed The Mummy just 3 years prior and has been a pioneer in film working on Metropolis, All Quiet On The Western Front, and of course some ventures into horror, his style is visually interesting and always does something you just never saw in films at that time. The lighting, blocking, and framing is excellent with lots of craftsmanship and imagination. The film even took me for not one but two loops with one genuinely making my jaw drop because it was unexpected and worked within the story, which always gets a film at least one point on the scale. It may noy be high tier golden age horror material but is far from a footnote in the genre, and actually a remake that is more well known than the original and in fact was remade more or less three more times throughout the years. So obviously there is an interesting story to tell, but I'm willing to hedge my bets on this being the best version. Love makes you do crazy things, and if reviewing horror movies after Halloween is wrong then I most certainly never want to be right.

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